Happy Summer! It is officially here... the long summer days and the leisurely evenings of grilling and eating outdoors. This is my very favorite time of year. I love being outside and I love the warm (but not too hot) weather. I also love ALL of the summer produce.... summer squashes, stone fruit, berries, peppers, eggplant, and of course.... tomatoes!
We eat tomatoes in some fashion almost every night during the summer months. For slicing and eating raw I always opt for the juicy heirloom varieties, and of course those from my own garden are my favorites. However, there are a zillion ways to use the less prized varieties, which are also typically less expensive. Even just a simple preparation can elevate their flavor and texture tremendously.
This simple recipe is one of my favorites. It's quick and fresh and you can use almost any tomato you have on hand. I've made it with cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, some of the more obscure Italian sauce tomatoes that are more mealy and less juicy. Whatever you choose, look for ones that have more 'meat' and less liquid. Tonight I used smallish 'Early Girl'. They were delicious!
Grilled Tomato Spaghetti:
Yields 4 generous servings
1# Spaghetti ( I use Jovial g-free)
3 # tomatoes (I used Early Girls)
zest of 1 lemon
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh oregano
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 TB prepared pesto (or homemade if you have it)
1 oz shaved Ricotta Salata cheese
1) Heat a large stock pot filled with water to a boil. While the water is heating, turn on the grill. Heat to 450 degrees. While the grill is heating, slice the tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the fresh oregano leaves and salt & pepper. Set aside.
2) When the water is rapidly boiling, add a handful of salt. Return to a boil and add the pasta. Cook approx 8 minutes, until just Al Dente. Drain and set aside in serving bowl. Toss with a bit of olive oil and salt & pepper, just to coat the noodles.
3) While the pasta is cooking, grill the tomatoes. Cook, skin side down until the skin is just starting to blister and the flesh looks bubbly and begins to soften. Remove from the grill and toss with the pasta. Pour any remaining liquid left in the bottom of the bowl over the noodles as well. Add the lemon zest, toss gently.
4) Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave slices of the Ricotta Salata over top. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and top with a dollop of the prepared pesto. Serve warm.