At about this point every summer, we start to feel overwhelmed by the bounty of our gardens and farmers’ markets. Fresh food everywhere! Tomatoes and bell peppers and radishes as far as the eye can see. This is a good problem to have, but after awhile, I want a break–I want something cooked, even if only slightly.
So I’ve devised a dish I call confetti spaghetti. I’ve seen other dishes with this name, but they don’t have much in common with mine, except for the pasta. In my version, you put into it whatever you want, whatever you’ve grown tired of eating raw. Just be sure you have an array of colors and chop everything up into tiny bits. I usually make it with heirloom tomatoes. Whatever herbs are most prolific in your garden can go into it, too. (This dish reminds me a bit of beggars linguine, although that’s made with nuts, dried fruits and honey and is wonderful in its own dessert-for-dinner way.)
This recipe makes enough for two, so it’s easy to multiply, depending on how many souls are at your table, or how hungry you are. Here’s how I do it:
8 oz. dried pasta (linguine) or one handful of fresh pasta* cut in fettuccini width
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 lb. heirloom tomatoes in an assortment of colors
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. colatura, garum or fish sauce (this isn’t enough to “fish up” the dish, just to enrich the flavor)
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (this sounds like a lot of cheese, but it’s not–this no-meat dish can handle it)
4 large fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons (chiffonade is the fancy term)
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, lightly toasted
In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté shallots for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until they just start to soften (if they’re super-ripe, this step won’t take as long). Add red pepper flakes and colatura, and stir to incorporate. Cook for one more minute. Add just-cooked pasta (well drained) to the pan and stir and toss to combine. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and keep tossing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with basil and pine nuts.
*You can make this dish with boxed pasta, but I prefer homemade. I’m not a pasta snob, really. It’s just that the texture and flavor of homemade is such a treat that it’s worth the extra few minutes it takes to make the dough and crank it out.
Make one handful of fresh pasta by mixing 1 cup of all-purpose flour, one teaspoon of kosher salt, one teaspoon of olive oil, one large egg and a sprinkling of water (only as needed) and lightly knead into a soft ball. Wrap it with plastic wrap and toss it into the fridge for a half-hour or so to allow it to hydrate. Then roll and cut. Cooking takes about 2 minutes, so be sure the water has begun to boil when you remove the dough from the fridge.