On a nearly weekly basis, my family would eat homemade pesto with angel hair pasta for dinner. I'm sure my parents loved that the pasta was cheap, filling, and enjoyed by their two very picky girls. While pasta has not made it into my weekly dinner rotation as an adult, I enjoy the occasional short pastas like penne and orecchiette. Recently my friend Sarabeth made a delicious meal using angel hair, and I was reminded of why I used to love it so much when I was young. I can't quite put my finger on why angel hair is so good, but even as a kid I felt that it was far superior to plain old spaghetti. While I'll always hold a soft spot for fresh pesto tossed in super thin pasta, this rich tomato pasta dinner is thoroughly delicious and satisfying.
We've been eating plenty of salads and zucchini dishes during this steadily hot summer, but it's still nice to prepare the occasional pasta dish. And tomatoes and basil are booming right now in Montana, making this dish perfect for a cool summer night. I've always been lukewarm about green beans, but Sarabeth sold me on these roasted green beans with bacon grease. I currently don't have any bacon grease in my kitchen, but I used butter with similarly delicious results.
The recipe may seem like it calls for an obscene amount of olive oil, but the oil acts as the base of the sauce and the amount is absolutely necessary. The other ingredients slowly cook down in the oil to become a beautiful, fragrant, and delicate sauce.
Summer Pasta with Fresh and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Sarabeth Haddad
Tip: Reserve the soaking liquid from the sun-dried tomatoes and add it to the pot of water before cooking the pasta.
7 oz (just under a 1/2 lb) whole wheat capellini (angel hair) pasta
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
4 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes, drained and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c finely shredded parmesan (or 1/3 c grated), plus more for garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil on medium-low in a medium cast iron or frying pan, until almost hot. Add garlic and cook until light golden brown, being very careful not to burn, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add chopped fresh tomatoes and cook until juices are mostly cooked off and tomatoes are thoroughly broken down, about 7 minutes. Add chopped basil and cook for 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss sauce with cooked pasta and parmesan. Garnish with more parmesan and serve immediately. Use bread to sop up the leftover sauce on your plate.
Roasted Green Beans
Adapted from Sarabeth Haddad
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
1/2 pound green beans, tops removed
1 tsp bacon grease or butter
1 tsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread green beans in one layer on a baking sheet. Toss with oil to evenly coat. Place bacon grease or butter on top of green beans and set pan in oven to melt fat for a minute or so. Remove from oven and toss to coat with melted fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return to oven and roast until beans are soft and browned on edges, 18 to 20 minutes.