Every once in a while, I improvise a pasta dinner that I like so much, I end up making it twice in one week. That’s what happened with this recipe.
It’s so quick and simple: Just sauté colorful cherry tomatoes with garlic and toss them with angel hair pasta. Top it with Parmesan and you’re done
To say the sauce is quick doesn’t quite get the point across. It’s practically instant. This is one of those surprising meals that is more than the sum of its parts.
Angel hair pasta is sometimes labeled capellini or capelli d’Angelo – either is fine. If you can’t find angel hair, use thin spaghetti, sometimes labeled spaghettini. All of these different pastas cook in minutes.
You need two pints of mixed cherry tomatoes. Pierce them with a knife so they don’t burst their juices all over you while they cook. Four minutes in a hot skillet makes them a little saucy and deliciously intense.
Save some of the pasta cooking water before you drain the angel hair – it’s starchy and adds some richness and silkiness to this simple sauce.
Toss the pasta with the tomatoes and basil leaves right in the pan, and sprinkle some Parmesan goes on top. You can serve this quick and pretty pasta dish straight from the skillet. Again and again.
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pounds angel hair pasta (capellini or capelli d’Angelo), or another thin spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pints red and yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, removed from the stems
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil. Add the pasta and stir well until the water returns to a boil.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is tender. With a ladle or a heat-proof liquid measuring cup, remove about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.
Drain the pasta but do not rinse it; transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss well.
2 Prep the tomatoes: Pierce small whole tomatoes with a skewer or the tip of a paring knife. Halve the tomatoes if they’re large.
3 Make the sauce: In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the cherry tomatoes – they will splutter – along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and black pepper.
Cook, shaking the pan, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to collapse and form juices. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes more.
4 Toss the pasta with the sauce: Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Toss well.
Add more pasta water if needed, a tablespoon at a time, to thin the mixture so the sauce coats the pasta. Add half the basil leaves and toss again.
5 Serve: Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 large bowls. Add a few basil leaves on top of the pasta and sprinkle generously with Parmesan.