The tomatoes I planted last Spring were late bloomers this year; we’re still enjoying the fruits of the harvest. It’s been a sort of part time job figuring out what to do with them all. I’ve given some away, I’ll can others, and have been churning out tomato-centric dishes for weeks: eggplant and tomato gratin, tomato and cucumber salads, BLTs rolled up in whole wheat tortillas for school lunches, and my favorite, sliced with a just a sprinkle of coarse salt.

Because of all the time, care, and patience that went into acquiring these beauties, they can’t just go into any ‘ole recipe. I’m like an odd, proud parent, and need my tomatoes to end up somewhere worthy.

This Spaghetti with Tomato Basil Sauce is certainly that. It hails from a restaurant in New York City called Scarpetta. If you’ve heard of the place, it’s likely thanks to this pasta.

When Scarpetta opened its doors several years ago, folks went nuts for this dish. I tried it during a visit to see my sister Annie, who lives there, and was so smitten, I insisted on a repeat visit the next time I was in town. Never mind the dozens (hundreds?) of new places to explore, it had to be Scarpetta.

My sister, who is an excellent cook in her own right, has been riffing on the famous Scarpetta Spaghetti ever since uncovering recipes for it on the internet. I was skeptical, thinking it couldn’t possibly match the real deal. But with my small storehouse of tomatoes, I figured the time was ripe. And though my dining room lacks the buzz of a New York City restaurant, (never mind the Italian wine list), the pasta is (very, nearly, almost) “that good.”

It’s a strangely simple recipe that’s become my new “go to” for company, particularly when potentially picky children are involved. It presents as little more than spaghetti with tomato sauce (a dish few kids will refuse), yet meets the flavor demands of more sophisticated palates. Plus, all of the work can be done up front, freeing you up to mingle with your company instead of sweating at the stove.

The recipe is made up of two parts: 1) tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded, and then mashed as they bubble gently on the stove 2) garlic- and basil-infused olive oil, which sounds fancier than it is, that gets drizzled on just before serving.

When friends and their kids came for dinner last week, this was on the menu. I served it with a simple green salad and sauteed chard topped with dried currants and toasted almonds. A bowl of fresh strawberries and these crazy delicious chewy chocolate meringue cookies completed the meal.


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  1. 10.03.2011 at 9:23 AM #

    With that menu, I think I’m going to have to invite myself over for dinner!!! :)

    • katiemorford
      10.03.2011 at 10:15 AM #

      Any time!

  2. Pam
    10.03.2011 at 9:36 AM #

    Sounds yummy – and very similar to one that’s on smitten kitchen. Smitten Kitchen has you cook it down 30-45 minutes to get a really intense flavor, and also you can add carrots and celery (but I don’t). So many tomatoes barely feed my hungry family but they lap it up.

    • katiemorford
      10.03.2011 at 11:25 AM #

      I love Smitten Kitchen. That link also has some great pics of how to peel and seed a tomato for anyone is interested.

  3. Anne Mullen
    10.04.2011 at 7:49 PM #

    Another way to eat your crop of tomatoes is to slice them and sprinkle a bit of sugar on them instead of salt. Tomatoes are a fruit, and the sugar seems to bring out that flavor even more.

    • katiemorford
      10.04.2011 at 8:32 PM #

      Good point. I’ll have to try that!

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