The end of summer means many things to me: Labor Day barbecues, back-to-school excitement, shorter days and ... loads of tomatoes.
Yes, I’m talking tomatoes — cherry tomatoes, to be exact. It’s the time of year when the garden is lobbing bushels of vegetables at us faster than a tennis ball machine, and it’s all that we can do to keep up.
Our tomato plants have chugged along this summer in a cooler-than-usual climate, and suddenly seem to have picked up steam in a last-minute hurrah to the end of summer.
The bushes are heavy with red and yellow fruit begging to be picked. We oblige and pop them into our mouths and pile them into bowls for snacking. The best way to eat a ripe cherry tomato is straight up and warm from the vine, in my opinion. It’s nature’s candy at its best.
Yet, there are only so many tomatoes that can be munched on or tossed into salads in a day. That’s when it’s time to get creative with the bounty, and this recipe does just that. It’s a light and simple dinner that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes, and most important, it lets the cherry tomato shine.
Linguine with cherry tomatoes
and lemony breadcrumb gremolata
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs or panko
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated pecorino Romano
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound linguine or spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped (optional)
Prepare the gremolata: Toast the breadcrumbs in a dry skillet until light golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Add the parsley, cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to collapse and release their juices but still retain their shape, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the salt and pepper, and then taste for additional seasoning.
Add the linguine to the skillet and stir to coat. Add half of the gremolata and toss to combine. If the pasta is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to moisten slightly. You don’t want the pasta to be gloopy.
Divide the pasta among serving plates and sprinkle with the remaining gremolata. Garnish with the basil, if using. Serve immediately.