Garganelli Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Oregano
"When it's hot out, this pasta rules cause of its fresh heirloom tomatoes and strong simple flavors, like oregano, basil and slow cooked garlic,” says Tadd Johnson, New York’s The Smile’s new Chef de Cuisine.
For the Pasta
- 1 medium sized pot boiling water
- 1 cup salt
For the Sauce
- 1 large heirloom tomato
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. fresh oregano
- 2 leaves of Basil
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 oz. Parmesan
- 3 tbsp. pasta water
1. What really makes this pasta flavorful is the heirloom tomato you choose to buy. Definitely pick up a few of the ripest ones you can find because the sauce for your pasta is all about the juice on the inside.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and do not forget to salt it! If you put a lid on your pot, the water will come to a boil much faster.
3. Take your big ripe heirloom tomato and cut it in half. Working over a bowl, rip the tomato apart with your fingertips. Leave some chunks behind for texture, but this is really the beginning on how to get a great fresh sauce. Take the oregano and tear it up with your fingers just a bit and throw it into your eviscerated tomato. Do the same with your basil. Set aside.
4. If you have a microplane for grating, now would be a perfect time to pull it out and grate your garlic into a small bowl. If you don’t have a microplane, no problem. You have to go old school! Using a sharp knife, slice your garlic as thinly and as slowly as possible to ensure even cooking. Set aside. Grate your Parmesan and set aside.
5. Now it’s time to start cooking your pasta. Garganelli pasta is great for this dish because of its shape. It looks like penne because it’s a rolled pasta and it has some ridges so it will hold your sauce well. Drop your pasta in the water and put the lid back on. You will probably notice the boil stop for a few moments, so the lid will help get the water back up to a boil which will help your pasta cook evenly. At The Smile, we cook our pasta just over al dente, which for garganelli is about 4-6 minutes at a rapid boil. Don’t be afraid to pull one out and taste to see how cooked it is.
6. While the pasta is still cooking, heat a pan with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a medium heat and add your garlic. It’s important to cook it slowly for about 3-4 minutes because it will add a lot of warmth and dimension to your sauce. Now add the tomato and herb mixture and the cheese. Stir gently and lower the heat to your pan, and as soon as the pasta is just over al dente add it to the pan and stir vigorously to release the starch from the pasta into your sauce. If your pasta doesn’t look a little saucy, then add the 3 Tbsp. Of pasta water in your ingredients list to the pan and stir again. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a bit more kosher salt.