Every year my mom's tomato crop gets bigger and bigger. When I was a kid, I couldn't understand the inexplicable reason why her pasta got better in the summer - she canned the same tomatoes and we ate them all winter long. I now realize it's because those fresh summer tomatoes are cooked a lot less - and, of course, because nothing is better than a fresh tomato (except maybe a fresh tomato sprinkled with salt). The pasta sauces of my youth always had a touch of cream, but I prefer a dollop of homemade ricotta (using Jennifer Perillo's recipe). A few handfuls of good cherry tomatoes make it even better - I love the way the juices burst as you fork your way through the pasta. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Serves 4-6
extra virgin olive oil
medium onion, very thinly sliced
fresh plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
two handfuls cherry tomatoes, assorted colors is prettiest
crushed red pepper flakes
fresh basil, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and reduce heat to low, cooking slowly until they are very soft, 6-7 minutes.
- Add the plum tomatoes and toss to combine. Season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for a minute or two, then smash the mixture into a coarse sauce using a potato masher.
- Add the garlic and the cherry tomatoes and toss to coat. Simmer until the cherry tomatoes start to split, 3-4 minutes more. Season with red pepper flakes. Turn off the heat.
- Boil the bucatini until al dente lift from the pasta water with tongs into the tomato sauce...it's ok if it drips some, that gets some of the pasta water in the sauce. Toss well to combine.
- Serve in big bowls topped with a whole mess of ricotta and basil.