Cherry Tomatoes. Pasta. Balsamic Vinegar. Ten minutes. One Meal. Sold yet?
Okay so when I say ten minutes I am not factoring in the time it takes my pasta water to boil, but really ten minutes of active cooking time for one meal is pretty amazing as far as I am concerned. This recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution book, also known as, the start of my love affair with J.O. I am not a fan of the ‘cheffy’ dishes as he calls them, I do not grow pea shoots in my back yard, I am not entirely sure I want to make a dish that requires many lengthy steps (lasagna is a notable exception), and at the end of it I want my food to be homey and flavorful so for the longest time J.O. and I did not see eye to eye. This book/show changed things. I have tried many recipes from the book and they have been mostly home runs.
I once made the mistake of using suspiciously watery grocery store brand balsamic vinegar in this dish and it did not work at all. Currently we have some really good balsamic vinegar that we bought at a specialty store in the Distillery District in Toronto. It has a very deep flavor and as such I only used about a tablespoon and a half and found it to be perfect as is. I also make this with whatever pasta I have on hand. Check out how fun the shape I used today is – it is like the edge of a lasagna noodle!
Cheats Fresh Pasta
1 ½ pints ripe grape or cherry tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
A small bunch of fresh basil
1 pound fresh lasagna
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pats of butter
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
Put a big pot of water to boil, add a hefty pinch of salt. If you are using dry pasta then put the pasta to boil before you get cracking on the 'sauce'. If you are using fresh pasta then it will take only a couple of minutes so hold of on boiling it for now.
Halve the cherry tomatoes - this is remarkably quick with kitchen shears. No kidding. Think about it - snip, done, snip, done...
Peel and mince the garlic. Pick the basil leaves off the stalks and put them to one side. Finely chop the stalks. Cut the lasagna sheets (if using) into strips. Grate the Parmesan.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a couple of lugs of olive oil and the garlic. Add the butter and let it melt. Add your garlic, watch carefully. When the garlic gives of that aroma that makes you want to grab a hunk of bread and dip it then add the cherry tomatoes.
Give everything a good stir then add the basil stalks and half the leaves. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cook at a low heat. I like mashing my tomatoes a little, it definitely makes it less pretty but that way I get more flavor into my sauce.
Drop your fresh pasta strips into a pan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander over a large bowl, reserving some of the cooking water. Reserve some of the cooking water even if you are using dry pasta.
Add the pasta to the frying pan with a splash of the cooking water and half the Parmesan Give it a minute or so so that the sauce cooks in to the pasta and then check seasoning.
Divvy it up into four portions and top each with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.