What's a girl to do?
Last week I ordered a caprese salad for lunch, and let me tell you, the tomatoes in that salad were far from caprese-worthy. Clearly it's too soon to commit to fresh tomatoes as well. For the moment, it's probably the best course of action to stick with canned tomatoes and skip the caprese altogether.
Despite my run-in with the tomatoes, I was still craving a light, springy pasta dish the other night. This Bobby Flay recipe skips the fresh tomatoes and instead relies on canned San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are a delicious option, even later in the summer when vine ripened tomatoes are plentiful.
What makes this pasta dish particularly appealing is the inclusion of fresh arugula (always a favorite of mine) and fresh basil. These two simple ingredients take this rather run of the mill "pasta in tomato sauce" recipe and kick it up a notch or two.
So, while it's too soon to commit to either the bounty or the footwear of summer, we can at least enjoy a few little glimpses of the coming season.
Recipe: Penne with Tomato Sauce, Arugula and Parmesan
1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
Sugar, if needed
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
4 ounces baby arugula
Fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. If using fine salt, use 1 tablespoon. Stir in the pasta, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until just slightly under al dente (it will continue cooking in the sauce, about 8 minutes). Remove 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve. Drain the pasta well.
To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large high sided sauté pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and half of the reserved juice and bring to a simmer, cook for 15 minutes and then gently crush the tomatoes with a potato masher until slightly smooth. Taste for seasoning and add sugar if needed. Add the chile flakes and continue cooking until thicken, about 25 to 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce with the salt and pepper to taste.
Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water, if needed and ½ cup of the cheese. Stir in the arugula and herbs. Transfer to a platter and serve with the remaining cheese on the side.