It’s high tomato season, and there’s no better vehicle for local tomatoes than pasta. To my mind, however, pasta with fresh, uncooked tomatoes often falls short: The tomatoes give off too much watery liquid that just stays in the bottom of the bowl, and the hot pasta and the cold tomatoes just don’t marry.
Here’s what I do: I bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and while it does, I put a good amount of olive oil in a deep skillet. Along with the oil: a few peeled and lightly smashed cloves of garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a good grinding of black pepper, some chopped fresh parsley. Turn on the heat to medium and cook just until the garlic colors and begins to smell. Turn off the heat. Add to the pan your roughly chopped tomatoes (about a pound for a pound of pasta) and a teaspoon of salt.
Cook pasta until it is a few minutes short of done. Then, transfer it into the pan with the tomatoes. (Use a strainer or Chinese “spider” if it’s macaroni, tongs if it’s spaghetti). Turn the heat to high and finish cooking the pasta with the tomatoes; the pasta will absorb most of the juices. When it’s al dente, turn off the heat. Throw in some more fresh parsley and, to bring the sauce together, a small lump of cold butter. Toss until butter has melted.
Last night’s dinner