Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, and it's not because it's hump day. I love Wednesdays because that when the NYT Dining section is published. No matter how uninspired I'm feeling, there's always something there that makes me look forward to cooking dinner.
This week's section did not disappoint, and Ted and I dined on Melissa Clark's Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes Wednesday evening. Melissa is my go to when I'm looking for something fresh and vibrant to fight off the humidity of summer.
The real bonus here is that I had everything needed to make this delicious sounding pasta recipe right here in the house... or in my backyard. Yup, we're growing a variety of herbs this summer, and to say that we are being overrun by mint would be an understatement of epic proportions. There's a limit to how many cocktails with muddled mint Ted can make, so finding a recipe that calls for 3 cups of mint leaves is a real bonanza. Because our basil is going wild as well, I threw in a handful of torn basil leaves along with the mint.
The weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy our summer pasta al fresco, along with a nice glass of rose. Just one more reason to love Wednesdays.
Recipe: Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
New York Times, July 9, 2014
* Note: I added a handful of torn basil leaves along with the mint,
1 pound fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, preferably thick cut, diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed
1 quart cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
3 cups whole mint leaves, torn
4 scallions, preferably red scallions for color, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, to finish
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 15 seconds, then add the oil and heat until it thins out and easily coats the pan when swirled. Add pancetta and cook until it starts to render its fat, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they burst, turn golden at the edges and shrivel up slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add pasta to pan and toss with tomato-pancetta mixture; if the mixture looks dry add a little pasta cooking water a few tablespoons at a time. Cook over high heat until the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce. Add the butter and toss until it melts and coats everything.
Divide pasta among warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with dollops of ricotta if desired, and top with a generous mound of fresh mint and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and more pepper before serving.el4 Note: If you would like to leave out the pancetta (making the dish vegetarian), toss 1/3 cup grated pecorino in the pasta along with the butter.
YIELD 4 to 6 servings