Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pasta Malafemmina

Although fall is just around the corner, inspiring visions of the pumpkin pies, simmering soups, and steaming cups of hot chocolate to come, summer is still very much clinging on, outside as well as inside my kitchen. Usually I am ready for fall within the first couple of weeks of the sweltering Central Valley summer, but this time I'm holding on a bit - mainly because I'm still enjoying the myriad of produce the summer brings.

Indeed, I'm not quite ready to give up my favorites, such as the beautiful red, yellow, and orange tomatoes I used for this dish. But, luckily, I still have a few more weeks to get my fill before jumping headfirst into fall!

This recipe was inspired by a pasta dish I had while in Italy (Check it out here!). The original dish I had was literally one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. I didn't know exactly what went into it, but I of course wanted to try it out as soon as I got home. I knew the original had a very light tomato sauce, which was probably more olive oil than tomato, so I started there. Then I added in a healthy helping of capers, some kalamata olives, and a few other ingredients I discerned from taste and picture. It turned out very yummy!

Getting Started

I started by cutting up the beautiful tomatoes I picked up at my local fruit stand. It's important that you use ripe tomatoes for this, and preferably fruit stand tomatoes. If you can't find yellow and orange tomatoes, red will work just fine, and if you don't have a fruit stand or farmers market near by you can use cherry tomatoes or roma tomatoes - they will have far more flavor than their grocery chain counterparts. The original dish looked like it used cherry tomatoes, but I fell in love with the colorful varieties I came across and couldn't resist!

After cutting up your tomatoes, simply toss them into a skillet on medium heat with a healthy drink of olive oil - at least a couple of tablespoons - more if you're brave! I'm so used to cooking light that this was hard for me, and probably the main reason my dish didn't taste quite the same as the original. I'm okay with that, though, and so are my jeans.

While your tomatoes are simmering, prepare the rest of the ingredients and throw them in as you go. This is also a good time to get your pasta going. The tomatoes take about 30 minutes to cook down, so time your pasta accordingly with package directions for al dente. The original pasta dish I used for inspiration used spaghetti noodles, but I had spiral on hand, so that's what went into the pot! Feel free to use what you like.

Wrapping it Up

Once your pasta is ready and the sauce has cooked down a bit, simply toss and serve! Make sure not to reduce the sauce too much, since you want it to be light. I love this recipe because the combination of capers and kalamata olives gives it a nice zesty flavor, and the fresh tomatoes and lemon juice brighten up what could otherwise turn into a heavy pasta dish. It's perfect for recapturing a bit of summer as we head on to the next seasonal chapter, and is definitely one of my new favorite pasta dishes.


Spiral Pasta (1/2 bag)
3 large red tomatoes
2 large yellow tomatoes
Couple of handfuls of orange cherry tomatoes (about 20)
1 Tbs capers
Pinch of dried oregano leaves (1/2 tsp)
2 pinches of coarse salt
1 small or ½ large garlic clove, minced
Juice from ½ fresh lemon
1 Large spoonful of kalamata olive halves (make sure to drain well)

Servings: About 4

Bonus Appetizer!


While the sauce is simmering and the pasta is boiling away, why not use your leftover tomatoes to make a yummy bruschetta? I can't think of any reason why not! Slice up a dense bread of your choosing (dense meaning smaller air bubbles) and drizzle each side with olive oil. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until golden, then rub each piece with a raw garlic clove - this will give you just the right amount of garlic without being overpowering. Top with a mix of diced tomatoes, fresh or dried basil, salt, and a little more olive oil. This one is always a crowd pleaser!

For a full bruschetta recipe, check out my Tomato Basil Bruschetta with Whole Grain Bread! 

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