First off, just let me say that I really like that picture. It reminds me of those old Gourmet Magazine covers from the 50s & 60s. Okay, now that I'm done patting myself on the back, the thing I like more than that pic is this awesome pasta dish. Have a few tomatoes flooding your countertops, threatening to roll off onto the floor with a resounding "splat"? If you're like me the answer is yes, then you're always on the lookout for something new and delicious to use them in. And if like this recipe it also happens to be easy, then all the better! I stumbled across this on epicurious a few weeks ago, and had it on my to-make-list as something I needed to experience (you can only imagine how long that list is!). This incredibly simple and über-seasonal plate of pasta totally exceeded my expectations. I tweaked the original recipe a bit, adding ricotta salata rather than the called for regular ricotta (I could also see using feta and chopped kalamatas as one of many options) and adding pine nuts. I also upped the garlic and basil because when it comes to those ingredients, isn't more almost always better? The result was a fresh, bright, incredible flavorful plate of goodness that I wouldn't hesitate to make for guests. It is also perfect for the vegetarian set, and for the...ugh...vegans, I suppose they could leave out the cheese. But come on vegans, isn't savagely chopping tomatoes to bits and mercilessly crushing garlic cloves a form of murder? Hell yes it is, so get a grip and grab a hunk of cheese, for christ's sake!
Um, sorry for that digression. Geez, vegans...of all the people to get distracted by. Anyway, while the season is flush, put this on your own personal eating list. You'll be loving it, I promise!
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Orecchiette with Salsa Cruda and Ricotta Salata
adapted from Gourmet/Andrea Albin
makes 4 servings
1 medium shallot, minced
4 small garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
1 pound dried orecchiette
1 cup ricotta salata (preferably fresh)
toasted pine nuts
Garnish: small basil leaves
1-Stir together all ingredients except pasta and ricotta in a large bowl with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let stand, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
2-Meanwhile, cook orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 qt water) until al dente.
3-Drain pasta and toss with tomato salsa and ricotta salata. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with pinenuts.