August 26, 2010

Love Nest Cooking


Love Nest Fresh Tomato-Basil Pasta

Part of the week I live in a little home-away-from-home studio apartment while I work out of town. I'm blessed to have some flexibility in my beloved non-profit day-job, reporting to my office part of the week and working from home the remainder. When My Baby and I met we lived 96 miles apart and he had a dream house in the country, so that decision was easy. My office is now 96 miles away from my current home.

Gentle Reader, if you become squeamish at at too much explicit romance, please skip the next sentence. We call our cute little studio our "Love Nest", as we also use it as a stop-off point on weekend excursions, or if we are missing each other terribly, My Baby will come down for a mid-week rendezvous.
As cute as it is, the Love Nest kitchen is little and functionally but not fully equipped. I can count on sushi night with friends once a week or so, but being of the sort that requires feeding about every 6 waking hours, creative meal planning is a necessity with one bitty cupboard, a two burner stove, a bar sink and a fridge that only gets visited three days a week.
This little pasta dish is a summertime tomato-season favorite of mine, and is particularly handy in the Love Nest as it requires no special equipment beyond a burner and a pot. With this dish I can eat a mouth-watering, well-balanced, quick and easy meal in the time it takes to boil pasta.

Over the years, I've found ways to change this one up with some additions here and there, which are noted for your dining pleasure.

Love Nest Fresh Tomato-Basil Pasta

8 oz. of your favorite pasta (Any shape you love will do, but I am fond of good old spaghetti)
4-6 ripe tomatoes, depending on size (Don't even think of this if you have crunchy, pink grocery store tomatoes. They will not offer up enough tangy juice.)
A lot of fresh basil (I know, I'm likely to never write a cookbook with directions like this. This is where you must trust yourself. You really can't use too much basil in this application. 1/3 cup? 1/2 cup? Go for it.)
3-5 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and roughly chopped or pressed
4 oz. bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls) or tear bigger balls into bite-sized pieces
A hefty pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2+ cup good olive oil

Put your salted pasta water on to boil. While it is heating, break the tomatoes apart with your hands over a large mixing/serving bowl. Let the juices and seeds collect in the bowl, and tear the flesh into generous bite-sized pieces.

With your hands, tear the basil into bits and toss into the bowl. Throw in the garlic, fresh mozzarella, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Pour the golden olive oil on top. It is my strong contention that anything made with the hand is magically better, so while your hands are already juicy, go ahead and sink them into the mix and give it a good toss.

Once the pasta is cooked al dente, or to you personal liking, drain it and toss the hot pasta into the tomato mixture. The warm pasta will soften the mozzarella balls and lightly wilt the basil. Serve with dispatch, though the left-overs are just fine the next day as well.

Additional add-ins:
Handfuls of fresh spinach
Chopped anchovies
Capers
Fresh oregano
Roasted chicken bites
Grated Parmesan
Drizzles of your favorite vinegar (balsamic and white wine are especially good)

17 comments:

  1. Aw, I love your love nest. So cute! And what a great recipe, especially for the summer.

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  2. Wonderful post, Pam! I could see it and taste it as you described. Heavenly!! This dish has been on our menu for the last couple of weeks and hasn't gotten made. I was going to make it tonight but just got e'd by a client who's about an hour away who'd LOVE to meet for dinner tonight... So, fine, work is going to once again take precedence :-) Maybe tomorrow night... Kate (kateiscooking)

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  3. I love using simple ingredients perfectly. That is what you did. Boy does that look good.

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  4. I think that this is one of the best ways to enjoy pasta. Love the bocconcini! Everything looks so fresh, I can almost taste it! And your Love Nest is every cute!

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  5. Mmm, I love tomato basil anything! Sounds like the perfect lunch :)

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  6. I'm going to Farmer's market right now to get some fresh tomatoes. I have everything else on hand with lots of basil. Thanks for sharing and giving me the idea for this dish.

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  7. Cute post. I love the recipe.

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  8. Awww, this was such a cute post! And that pasta looks deeelicious, too. :D

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  9. I love using only a few ingredients and making it a great dish! Sounds delicious, thanks for sharing! :)

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  10. A love nest? That's amazing. Good for you. And I love the freshness of this dish. Great easy recipe.

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  11. I love nests and recipes that rely on good sense measurements.

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  12. That's my kind of cooking, too. (Sure makes me wish I had a love nest, though!)

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  13. Oh my gosh. this is so cute. That sounds so fun! How I wish I could runaway with my honey...ah, someday. Three toddlers keep us tied down to the homefront, but one can dream. The recipe looks fantastic and fresh. I just love the combo of all those things. wonderful and refreshing, as usual;)

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  14. That is exactly how I cook recipes!! A little of this, a little of that. I have great frustration at exactly measuring ingredients to write down.

    Love this recipe! And I love the story to go with it.

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  15. I think "a lot" sounds like a perfectly reasonable description for a quantity of basil. A third of a cup of basil means nothing to me.

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  16. flavourful sauce
    http://torviewtoronto.blogspot.com

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  17. Speaking of jealous... I WANT A LOVE NEST! I'd trade all of my marmalade for a regular rendezvous.

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