I was always wild about tomatoes. Even as a young child I remember biting into sun ripened tomatoes straight out of my mother's garden. I also remember tasting my first "raw" tomato sauce in Rome, prepared by my dear family friend, Marina. For years I pestered my mother to recreate that pasta here at home. However, our tomatoes never seemed to taste like the ones I had in Rome, that is, until the heirloom tomatoes appeared in our markets. This pasta dish is a tribute to my mother and Marina, the two biggest culinary influences in my life. Grazie mille mama e Marina! —cucinettaNYC
8 first courses or 4 main courses
assorted heirloom tomatoes (brandywine, Cherokee purple, green zebra and sweet orange), cut into chunks
burrata (cheese) - if burrata is unavailable, you can substitute with fresh mozzarella
Place large pasta or stock pot of water on high heat and let boil, at which point add a healthy handful of salt (you want the water to almost taste like the sea) and put in the spaghetti. NOTE: never add olive oil to water and never put a lid on pot after you have put in the pasta.
Next add olive oil to saute pan and place on medium heat.
When pan is hot enough, add garlic and pepperoncini and cook until garlic nearly dissolves (but does not burn) and the hot pepper flakes flavor the oil, approximately 1 minute.
Pasta should be done (al dente) in approximately 8 minutes. Drain and put in serving bowl.
Coat pasta with warm garlic-chile flavored oil, toss in heirloom tomatoes.
Using your hands, tear the burrata into bite size pieces and sprinkle on pasta and tomatoes.
Mix all ingredients. The heat from the pasta will "melt" the burrata.
Top with handful of freshly torn basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Note: you may want to add a little more olive oil at the end to finish the dish and make it glisten.