Imagine it's a sunny summer day. You're hungry, so you walk out into the garden, pick ripe tomatoes off the vine, cut a big handful of parsley, mint, basil, chives, maybe some rosemary and a little thyme, then head into the kitchen to make this simple pasta dish. The tomatoes are still warm from the sun, and your hands smell of licorice, pine, and mint. It's already a heady experience and you've only just begun. When you mix the herbs in a bowl with hot olive oil, their fragrance immediately fills the air and the tomatoes release their juices, mingling with the oily goodness in the bowl. The warm pasta goes in, along with some tender fresh mozzarella, and in no time you've satisfied your hunger in a big way. Try it sometime. —The Canal House
4 to 5
ripe tomatoes in season (about 2 pounds)
loosely packed, mixed fresh herbs such as basil, mint, parsley, and/or chives, chopped
extra-virgin olive oil
mezzi rigatoni or other short, tubular pasta
Using a sharp knife, peel and core the tomatoes, then cut them in half cross-wise. Gently squeeze each tomato half, then remove and discard the seeds. Dice the tomatoes into chunks that are about the same size as the pasta. Put the tomatoes and the chopped herbs into a large heatproof bowl.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it is hot and shimmering, but not smoking. Carefully pour the hot oil into the bowl with the tomatoes and herbs -- it will sizzle and be immediately fragrant. Stir well.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomatoes and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Let the pasta cool until it's just warm, then stir in the mozzarella. Adjust the seasonings before serving. It'll likely need more salt and pepper.