Confession time: I don't like fresh, raw tomatoes. I know, crazy right? I used to love them. I'd eat them like candy as a kid, sliced with a sprinkling of salt. It all changed one day as I was eating lunch in my bathing suit, wrapped in a towel, about 8 years old, in my grandparents back yard. It was hot and I had been swimming. I remember the tomatoes were cold and perfectly ripe, sliced just as I liked but this time with a little garlic salt on top. Later that day I came down with the stomach flu and I suppose you can guess why I don't like them anymore. Every time I try to eat a piece of a raw tomato, I gag a little. It makes me sad. Sometimes, if the tomato is perfectly ripe and sliced thin and not pithy at all, I can eat it on a sandwich. It happens maybe once a year.
Being a foodie and all (I hate the word "foodie"), this creates all sorts of problems for me. Caprese salad anyone? Bruschetta? Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich? Gazpacho? Pass. This particular food aversion taunts me because I really want to eat these things. It's not even like they aren't tempting because I don't like tomatoes. They are all too tempting and I hate the fact that tomatoes ruin it for me. It's only raw tomatoes though. If those babies are made into sauce, marinated or sauteed, I love them.
Enter this lovely tomato basil pasta. I longed to make it but that damn tomato annoyance was getting in my way. I wanted a simple pasta, bursting with fresh flavors of garlic, tomato and basil that was delicate in flavor but not bland. I decided to be brave. I chopped three beautiful red tomatoes fully prepared to add them to my hot skillet full of butter, oil, crushed red pepper and garlic. Fail. I had a freak out at the last second. I thought I wasn't going to be able to enjoy the pasta if I went through with it. The smell of the tomato was just a little to robust for me. I opened a can of organic diced tomatoes and used them instead. Listen, I know this pasta would be sensational if made with fresh tomato, but I just wasn't strong enough this time. However, now I can say for certain that if you buy a high quality canned tomato and drain most of the juice, it works just as well. This pasta was awesome, simple and light. It highlighted each of the flavors used perfectly without overpowering any of them. Try it, you'll like it.
Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound angel hair pasta
7 fat garlic cloves, minced
20 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons white wine
3 medium to large tomatoes, chopped or 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, juice mostly drained
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter and melt together. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, salt and white wine and continue sautéing for about a minute, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add the basil to the tomatoes and when the pasta is done, add it to the sauce in the skillet and toss everything together. Serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese on top.
To make my cooking time smoother, I mince my garlic and chop my basil before I start cooking the pasta and making my sauce. Always prep before hand. It saves a lot of stress during the actual cooking process.