Make Ahead

Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil & Brie

August 28, 2012
19 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 8 hours
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 6 as a main course
Author Notes

When I wrote about my mother's Summer Pasta alla Caprese a couple years ago, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. I'd been making the pasta–raw garlic or onion, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, fresh mozzarella–the same way for years. But once I'd documented it in writing as a childhood favorite, something my mother used to make several times a summer, I realized that somehow my taste memory was out of whack

It was a month or so ago that I finally put the pieces together. My mother didn't actually use mozzarella–she used Brie! Like many of us scarred by the chalky, leaden wedges that made an appearance at pretty much every event in the late 80s and early 90s, I'd apparently blocked all memories of this once chic, now much maligned cheese. I had mentally banished it to the recesses of culinary obscurity, and no wonder. Thus it happened that a pasta which was originally introduced to me as slightly creamy and complex, with a pleasant, bitter edge from the cheese, morphed in my mind over the years into a more predictable version of itself: comforting indeed, studded with chewy bits of melting mozzarella, but far less seductive.

The truth–though many of us would likely be slow to admit it–is that Brie, when it's good, is very very good. A fine Brie is just as delicious at room temperature smeared on crusty bread as it is warm, oozing out of flaky pastry. And it's REALLY good folded into a fresh tomatoey, garlicky sauce for pasta. No one understood this better than Julee Rosso and the late Sheila Lukins, creators of the beloved Silver Palate series, from whom my mother got her inspiration for our family favorite.

Today I'm sharing the Stubbs rendition, which uses less olive oil (Rosso and Lukins' version calls for 1 whole cup for just 1 1/2 pounds of pasta!) and slightly less garlic and basil, but plenty of tomatoes and Brie with the rind on, which I believe is key to the endeavor. I highly recommend you cast aside any residual anti-Brie sentiments and give this one a shot before tomatoes disappear for the year. You won't regret it. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
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Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil & Brie
  • 3/4 pound Brie (triple cream if you can get it)
  • 4 medium ripe-as-can-be tomatoes
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, cleaned and dried
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons excellent olive oil
  • 1 dash Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound curly pasta (I like cavatappi)
  1. Put the Brie in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up a little. This will make it easier to cut when the time comes.
  2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and put them in a large serving bowl. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the bowl. Chiffonade or roughly chop the basil and add that to the bowl too. Pour in the olive oil and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Gently stir everything together.
  3. Once the Brie is firm enough, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and add these to the bowl. Gently fold to combine the cheese with the rest of the ingredients. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2, and up to 8, hours -- the longer the better.
  4. When you are ready to eat, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente. Strain it and tip it into the bowl with the sauce. Fold everything together until it is well combined, the Brie has begun to melt, and the pasta is slicked with cheese and tomato goodness. Serve immediately with a big green salad.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • janet tipple
    janet tipple
  • sueh
  • Butterfield Beef & Berry Farm
    Butterfield Beef & Berry Farm
  • Rebecca Horrigan
    Rebecca Horrigan
  • chris

61 Reviews

Jaclynn March 1, 2023
This is a really good recipe, although, the first version I made was over-the-top with the olive oil. Will try it using the pasta water instead, although a tiny bit of oil to “cook” the garlic down a bit in microwave. Thank you for all the good ideas In comments and for the recipe!!
janet T. September 12, 2021
Have done this with camembert and a bleu/camembert mix with great results.
melindafekete June 21, 2021
I love the idea of the recipe, but I'm afraid I have to agree with what some commenters have also pointed out: the raw garlic in this recipe is way too overpowering. I followed the recipe exactly, used two medium-sized garlic cloves, and let it sit at room temp for 4 hours. The dish overall was nice, but the garlic taste was very strong and we were left with the kind of garlic aftertaste that stays with you for the rest of the day, no matter what.. I normally love lots garlic, but this was too much.
sueh September 10, 2020
Was looking forward to making this and finally did last night. It was soooo delicious. It was not too soupy at all and it reminded me very much of something my parents used to make when I was a little girl which was what we called “macaroni on top of the stove”.😊 It was a quick and easy meal that my Dad’s mom used to make when they moved (and they moved a lot) because it was so easy; cook the elbow macaroni and drain, add a can of heated canned tomatoes with the juice (whole and cut up or just canned diced tomatoes) and grated extra sharp cheese, seasoned with salt and pepper. It was such a comforting meal and so is this recipe which to me is an updated fresher and summery version of one of may favorite meals growing up! We had with a salad and leftover chicken last night and it was a big hit!
Around T. July 5, 2020
I have made the Silver Palate recipe for years, but I always use way more tomatoes and garlic than in either recipe, probably a dozen tomatoes and 6 cloves. Makes it much more flavorful and produces more sauce for mopping up with fresh bread!
Joanna May 2, 2020
Hi All! Can this be made in the morning and served in the afternoon as a pasta salad at a cookout? In other words, the hot curly noodles would be mixed in with the sauce and then covered to be served about 5 hours later At room temp...Thanks!
Butterfield B. July 25, 2019
absolutely delicious! new favorite in our household and wouldn't change a thing although one could get by with a little less EVOO. The combination of ease to delish puts this in our cookbook. thank you!
Merry July 16, 2018
Terrific recipe for mid-July when the ingredients are absolutely perfect. And those leftovers are also amazing.
Rebecca H. January 15, 2018
Has anyone tried this with Gluten-Free pasta? I wanted to make this for my gluten-free housemate and was planning on using GF TJ’s brown rice quinoa fussilli but don’t know if the flavors will meld well. Thoughts appreciated :)
BeadlesAZ July 11, 2023
Have made with Rotini penne and it’s good. Good enough for me to make for my celiac husband to enjoy. 😍
chris August 26, 2017
Do you cut the rind/skin off the brie? You can apparently buy a tub of brie, with no skin, but I've never seen it in a grocery store. Food service item, perhaps.
Melanie July 20, 2020
Recipe says to leave it on.
BeadlesAZ July 11, 2023
I do not remove rind and it’s perfectly fine.
Jeri J. June 3, 2017
I and my sisters have been making this for years and have learned to basically just eyeball it instead of strict measurements depending on if we're making for a group or just 1 or 2 people. We never have used as much olive oil as called for, which may be why some think it is "soupy", and when made with Brie it's best eaten when just made and still warm. We also use shapes like radiatore or the ruffled flower shape instead of linguini, better to hold in the sauce! Try it with Feta, it makes it a great cool salad as the Feta doesn't really melt, and that way refrigerates well for leftovers. The Brie version isn't as good after refrigeration to us, as a leftover, but it still never would go to waste with our families! Definitely needs the best summery flavorful fresh tomatoes you can get and good fresh garlic, don't use any with the green sprouting centers, that makes garlic too bitter!
Tina H. November 15, 2016
Made this again for dinner last night and actually gave it a couple of hours of good maceration time. Better than ever!
Natalie R. July 31, 2016
I've been making a variant of this dish all summer (although I only now found this recipe). No oil, just extremely oozy brie that melts over everything when it mixes with the tomato juice. This works with halved/quartered mini tomatoes of any type as well. I usually use wheat berries or farro in place of pasta because I take it to work for lunch and don't want the pasta to soften from the tomato juice. You can combine the wheat berries with everything during step 3. Another note, I grow oregano on my balcony, so I often use that instead of basil in much smaller quantities..
Ellen P. July 24, 2016
A classic! This is my go-to recipe for potlucks, etc. Making it for tonight, in fact!
Pamela September 1, 2015
I just made this dish. The raw garlic overwhelmed the dish and too much olive oil in my opion. I will take this dish put it in the refrig until
tomorrow then I will go to publix get some Italian sausage or chorizo cover with cheap mozzarella cheese and try to salvage this recipe that has no flavor.
Merrill S. September 1, 2015
Sorry to hear you didn't find this to your liking. Out of curiosity, did you use ripe, local tomatoes?
Jul August 13, 2019
One trick to tame raw garlic is to microwave it with the evoo (I used 1/4 c) until softened about 1 min. stirring at 30 secs and keeping an eye on.
Tory N. July 23, 2015
I LOVE this recipe, but my mom always substituted fresh mozzarella for the brie and i can never do it any differently. we also add prosciutto sometimes. what a classic. i made this for the first post i ever wrote on my blog!
nmallory July 23, 2015
Its also great as a dip with French bread! Been making this for years.
Liz S. May 27, 2015
You can find Triple cream brie at Trader Joe's! This recipe looks to die for!
Martha F. December 11, 2019
Or, I think Trader Joe's mushroom brie would be tasty...
koc September 21, 2014
Absolutely delicious! Even a family member who doesn't like Brie thought it was great.
linda September 3, 2014
Love love love this recipe!!! It's delicious even cold!