recipe adapted from Pasta Con Pomodori Ciliegino (Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes) by Arianna Perkins and Pandy Reed
We were very fortunate to spend time overseas as a military family. Not only did we get to immerse ourselves in the people and culture of the country we were in, we also met many people from other countries than the one we were stationed in.
One such lady was from Italy and she taught a cooking class to our Hilltop Coffee Group at Misawa, Japan. Arianna Perkins and her Italian friend, Pandy, demonstrated 3 quick pasta dishes; simple meals for eating on an average weekday. The most interesting thing I learned from the cooking class was the difference between what we as Americans consider Italian food, versus the way real Italian people cook. Arianna explained that the food is made simpler in Italy, but always with fresh ingredients. The recipes that the ladies made (and we all had the privilege to eat) all had pasta, vegetables, very little garlic or seasonings (usually just torn fresh basil), and none of the pasta was floating in a red sauce. Arianna also told us that in Italy, dessert usually consisted of fresh fruit.
This new-found information didn’t make me want to run home and throw out the can of Parmesan cheese I had in the fridge, but it did make me want to start using more fresh ingredients. Whenever possible, I do prefer to use fresh basil, real parmesan cheese, etc., there really is a big difference in the taste. Enjoy!
1 pound spaghetti ( I prefer the Barilla Piccolini mini Farfalle)
grated parmesan cheese
40-50 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, halved (I use 3 garlic cloves, minced)
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons plain breadcrumbs (I grated a hard french baguette)
4 basil leaves, torn (I used dried basil, but fresh basil is soooo much better)
red pepper flakes (I used a big, fat pinch)
1. In a frying pan, warm the olive oil and lightly saute the garlic. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes (if using dried basil, add it in now). Cover the frying pan and cook over a medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to crush the tomatoes. If using fresh basil, add it in at the end of the cooking time.
2. Warm the plain breadcrumbs in a little pan until they are lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
3. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain the water, reserving about 1/2 cup for later use.
4. Add the drained pasta and the toasted breadcrumbs to the cherry tomatoes in the frying pan. Cook gently for a minute or so, stirring to mix the sauce, tomatoes, breadcrumbs and pasta. Add some of the pasta water to the mix if necessary (to keep the pasta from being too dry). Serve immediately with parmesan cheese.