Everything new is old

Posted by Anita on 08.17.09 10:12 PM

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*Years ago, I knew a guy who fancied himself a gourmet cook, even though his culinary skills were marginal at best. His one saving grace, kitchen-wise, was his signature pasta dish: Linguine combined with mozzarella — right in the hot pasta pan, so it got all stringy — then tossed with ripe tomatoes, loads of garlic, and a bunch of basil.

It was a good meal, even great when the seasons were right, but its real charm was its artlessness: No measuring, no fancy technique; just good food, simply prepared.

Even though tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil is a classic summer combination, I hadn’t thought of this pasta for years until I read our friend Jennifer’s post last week, where she described a remarkably similar dish. Her version keeps the cheese separate until the end, uses a combination of Mediterranean herbs, and omits the garlic. In a way, it’s a lot like seeing an old friend again after a long absence: A few things have changed, but the basic features are unmistakable.

For this week’s One Local Summer dinner, we whipped up a batch this new/old favorite, using some of the first tomatoes from our garden, along with basil, parsley, and chives from the herb beds. We used our favorite local pasta from Eduardo’s, a dense, wheaty fusilli. If you use a similar hearty pasta, this recipe makes four generous servings.

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*

Pasta alla Jenblossom
– adapted from Last Night’s Dinner

4 to 5 ripe tomatoes (enough for 4 cups coarsely chopped)
~1 cup fresh herbs, coarsely chopped (I used 3/4 cup basil, 1/4 cup parsley, 2T chives)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
sea salt, to taste
8oz good-quality dried pasta
3T olive oil
8oz fresh mozzarella, cut into smallish chunks

Put a pot of well-salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into large chunks, and combine in a large bowl with herbs, garlic, chile, and sea salt. Toss and let sit to combine.

Boil your pasta according to package directions, stopping at the al dente stage. Just before the pasta is done, combine tomatoes with the olive oil and mozzerella. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes. Toss well and let sit it soak for as long as you can bear the heavenly smell of summer. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Farmers and food artisans who created the ingredients for this week’s recipe:One Local Summer 2009
Thomas Family Farm, Corralitos: Hard-neck garlic
Bariani, Sacramento: Olive oil
Belfiore Cheese Company, Berkeley: Bocconcini
Eduardo’s, San Francisco: Pasta
…and our homegrown tomatoes(!), basil, parsley, chives

locavore, One Local Summer, other blogs, recipes



Comment by Jennifer Hess

Your version looks heavenly – and I of course love the name :) I need to make this again soon.

Posted on 08.18.09 at 8:12AM

Comment by Chef Gwen

That looks absolutely simple and delicious. Thanks!

Posted on 08.18.09 at 9:01AM

Comment by LaurieA-B

Matthew and I made the simplest possible version of this for the first dinner party we ever gave (age 19, not yet married, at his parents’ house in Portland). It is always, always good. Thanks for the memory.

Posted on 08.18.09 at 9:08PM

Comment by Joan

This sounds wonderful. And, very timely – we’re having some lovely tomatoes and basil in the garden these days.

Posted on 08.18.09 at 9:39PM

Comment by Mangochild

Ahhhh, how wonderful to sit down to this. I wish we had a better tomato year, but with the few we have, I will be sure to try this.

Posted on 08.19.09 at 3:23AM

Comment by Cooking with Michele

I love these classic flavors of Insalata Caprese and tend to use them in a variety of dishes – a Spaghetti Caprese similar to your dish, a tosses Caprese salad, Caprese bites appetizers, and a traditional Insalata Caprese. And this time of year is perfect when the basil and tomatoes are ripening in my garden!

Posted on 08.19.09 at 7:37AM

Comment by Mrs. L

A perfect toss together after work recipe. Definitely going to try.

Posted on 08.20.09 at 10:53AM

Comment by nicole hill gerulat

i was thinking about your comment in class about not liking to post the finished product as your “hero” shot because you never like them as much … try shooting smaller portions on white plates –it’ll really draw out the food and the smaller portion will make it easier to see all the beautiful elements.

you really do a great job.

Posted on 08.22.09 at 8:44PM

Comment by Kristin

Yum, I love this dish, especially with the stringy cheese! Your tomatoes look beautiful, just perfect! I like your plates, we have them too :)….I’m just disappointed they are discontinued, I’m so scared I will break them!

Posted on 08.26.09 at 5:38AM

Comment by Brittney

I made your Tomato-Bourbon Jam yesterday and wanted to let you know I think it’s wonderful! I found your blog months ago and have been saving that recipe ever since. Can’t wait to have a BLT and some french fries tonight with the jam.

Posted on 08.31.09 at 12:40PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.