The heat wave that Michael complained about yesterday is finally easing up here…at least a little. It’s still so hot in the mornings that I have to hold off on applying makeup until I get to work because even a cup of tea will create a fine mist of perspiration on my face (and if I have to run to catch the bus, then I’m really SOL). The heat means that our apartment is shrouded in darkness in an effort to keep it cooler during the day and Michael has been desperate to avoid using the stove as much as possible. It seems like we will finally be getting a reprieve of sorts in the coming days, which means that we once again will have a little more flexibility in what we have for dinner. This meal was from a few weekends ago–when it was hot, but not unbearably so–and while it does require a little bit of stovetop action, the results are totally worth a little sweat. We had a box of kumatoes and didn’t know what to do with them until I stumbled across an old recipe in Giada’s Family Dinners and was immediately inspired: ‘scuie ‘scuie! It’s a simple pasta dish that calls for tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic and basil (which we didn’t have, but oh well!) that you cook gently together for just a few minutes until the tomatoes soften and the cheese melts. Giada notes that it’s one of those dishes that evolved to use up leftover tomatoes after making vats of homemade sauce, but I’m inclined to think that it’s also a wonderful excuse to indulge in some excellent tomatoes such as heirlooms or kumatoes, as I’ve done here. It’s a great one-dish kind of comfort meal that translates well to leftovers and is perfect for curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and your favorite television show or movie.
Even Mr. Pasta-Eschewer seemed to like this thanks to me being very heavy-handed with the garlic, which helps give this pasta dish a flavor reminiscent of a Margherita pizza, which just happens to be one of his culinary weaknesses.
Gemelli alla ‘Scuie ‘Scuie
adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners
serves 4-5 or fewer with lots of leftovers
- 1 lb gemelli or smaller pasta (smaller would actually work a little better–the next time I make this I’m going to try orechiette or little shells
- 1 lb tomatoes or kumatoes cored, seeded and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cubed
- 8-12 basil leaves, thinly sliced (note: don’t buy basil specifically for this recipe unless you’re also going to use it in something else. If you don’t have it, use parsley, thyme or oregano if you have any of those on hand.)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil, season well with salt, and cook pasta to about a minute or two less than package directions; drain and place back into now-empty pot. Take a skillet and heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and then add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute or until garlic is fragrant but not brown and remove from heat. Add tomatoes and let them cook slightly in the warm oil, then add garlic, tomatoes, oil and also the cheese to the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Season with salt and combine again. Top with basil and serve.
Note: if you’re using regular tomatoes as opposed to kumatoes, you can cook them for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Kumatoes are more delicate so I didn’t want to lose their texture, but warming them a little brings out their sweetness just enough.