Weekday Vegetarian: Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil

Now that it is August, I will share the recipe that I make only during this month, the one that my family waits the entire year to enjoy. I have been making this pasta from memory for many years so I had to think long and hard about when I first ate it and where the original recipe was from. I can't possibly claim it as my own.

Mulling this over I thought about summer weekends at my in-law's cottage just north of Toronto. My sister-in-law with her husband and toddler son would arrive on Friday nights tired after the work week. After a suitable amount of napping on the chesterfield on Saturday, my brother-in-law would arise, take over the kitchen and produce something wonderful for dinner. Then I had it fixed in my mind - The Silver Palate Cookbook - and sure enough, I dragged my battered copy out of the cupboard and there it was - Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil. That was over twenty years ago and the only cheese we could get at the market by the cottage was Camembert (I think from Denmark!) in a tin. But the local tomatoes were still hot from the vines and the basil was clipped from the garden as we needed it and we all realized what a beautiful dish this was. I have made it every summer since then.

My son, who was an infant then, is now employed in a specialty cheese shop and has been experimenting with different cheeses. He reports that Brie, Camembert and very soft goat and sheep cheeses work well. Make sure your cheese is ripe, but most importantly use a good vine-ripened tomato and the fresh basil which is, of course, a classic combination. Because this sauce is uncooked use the best olive oil you can. If you are vegan, or worried about your arteries then drop the cheese entirely. You may not dream about it during July in anticipation, but it's still pretty tasty. I also love this recipe because you make it ahead of time and just cook the pasta when you are ready to eat. The Silver Palate has just published their 25th Anniversary edition and I can't say whether or not this recipe is included - I just use my old beat up version with the pages falling out. Feel free to play with this recipe - I always do.

Tomato Brie Pasta (Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil)

4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces
1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 cup best quality olive oil
salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds linguine
freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Combine tomatoes, brie, basil, garlic, 1 cup olive oil, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare at least 2 hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature
2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the linguine and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes.
3. Drain pasta and immediately toss with the tomato sauce. Serve immediately

Serves 4-6

Recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Tags: Recipes | Tomatoes

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