Kitchen Counter Pasta

September 6, 2010

It’s almost cheating to even call this a recipe. It’s more like a method…a very forgiving, adaptable method. Well, providing that you have awesome tomatoes, which we happen to have right now. So make this in the next couple of weeks and ignore it until summer rolls around again, okay?

Damn, I’m getting as bossy as Ina. Forgive me, readers. I promise that I won’t tell you to use the *good* olive oil in this recipe. Actually…I’m a liar. Do. But feel free to use the shitty Parmesan. Oh, wait. Don’t do that either. I don’t know how you put up with me, truly…

Anyways, you know those days when you’re just hanging around the house and a friend calls and says, “Hey! I’m in the neighborhood. Do you mind if I stop by?”

You do?  Seriously? Who are you people?

Food Network chefs use that lead in all the time–“This is a great recipe for times when friends just unexpectedly drop in…”

Um, that has never happened to me. Never. Maybe because I have no friends. I have an aversion to, you know, people. Actually, I do have a  few friends and they have blessedly never pulled surprise visits, probably because they know that I am an anal-retentive freak. If I’m not expecting you and my doorbell rings? I assume that you are the creepy meat man and hide in the closet for at least 15 minutes.

I digress. In truth, this recipe needs a couple of hours to reach peak greatness, but it’s a lazy few hours. So if you do have friends, and they pop by, pour some tea or a glass of wine and catch up while this sauce “cooks” in the beauty of the afternoon sun. Then toss in some pasta and enjoy the wealth of friendship.

A nice thing about this recipe is that it’s perfect for people who enjoy the taste of garlic, but are averse to bits of it in their food. The tomatoes bathe in crushed cloves of garlic and then the garlic gets tossed, providing the best of both wolds. Another great thing about this recipe? You can throw just about anything into it and it will adapt beautifully. I’ve flung in cooked asparagus, roasted zucchini, crisped bacon, a lovely tin of Italian tuna…you get the idea. Like the best of friends, this recipe is quite forgiving.

Kitchen Counter Pasta

serves 2 generously (can easily be doubled…for people who have friends)

12 oz. cherry tomatoes, heirloom cherry tomatoes, or 3 large, fat, good tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 healthy glugs olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)

1/3-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

generous grinds of fresh black pepper

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (but not chopped–you pick them out later)

4 ounces dried spaghetti or linguine, cooked*, about 1/2 cup pasta water reserved

1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped**

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn

1/3 cup Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese, grated

salt, pepper and extra cheese to taste

optional: capers, sliced kalamata olives, leftover rotisserie chicken, crushed red pepper, or–heck with it–damn near any leftover you’d like to use up.

Cut tomatoes and place into a large glass bowl. Add the olive oil, smashed garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and generous grinds of pepper. Toss together and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place on a semi-sunny, warm kitchen counter for several hours or until flavors are well blended and juices are running.

Remove garlic cloves with a fork or slotted spoon. To the tomato mixture (do not drain liquid! That’s the good stuff!), toss in basil, parsley and 1/3 cup parmesan. Add drained hot pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.

Toss. If pasta seems dry, add reserved pasta water by tablespoon-fuls until moistened. Taste for salt and pepper; add additional cheese or toss-ins, if desired.

Bonus: this tastes terrific both hot and at room temperature, so if it’s hella hot outside, pour another beverage, visit a while longer, and serve when you are ready.

* I know!! 2 ounces of pasta per person seems parsimonious, but honestly, that’s the recommended serving. American restaurants have fooled us into thinking that anything less than 4 ounces of pasta is chintzy, but there are so many tomatoes in the dish that the serving actually feels quite hearty. Still, if you wanna go all abondanza and increase the amount of pasta, go ahead. I won’t judge (well, unless you use the shitty olive oil). Just adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

** You can use lesser amounts of the basil and parsley. I like mine really herby, but it might put some people off. You can start with 1/4 cup of each and then put extra on the table if you like.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan September 6, 2010 at 6:08 am

I am with you, I can’t imagine what I would do if a friend just dropped by… well freak, but after that I don’t know. This looks wonderful, I promise to use the good Olive Oil (MS Bossy pants)


Annie September 6, 2010 at 6:12 am

This really is one of the best ways to make pasta ever! And I totally agree, if the doorbell rings and we aren’t expecting anyone, I am sure as hell not answering the door.


Jennifer September 6, 2010 at 6:33 am

If someone just “drops by” my house they are going to see how we really live… and that is not a pretty sight.


Christine @ Fresh Local and Best September 6, 2010 at 6:50 am

I like that you kept the tomatoes raw, it makes for better presentation, and is so much more refreshing. This is a wonderful pasta!


gigi September 6, 2010 at 6:58 am

This reminds me a lot of the simple tomato salad my family has made for generations – and letting it sit at room temperature for the flavors to meld is really key. I never thought about dumping the tomato salad over pasta. I may play around with a combo of this v. our own family recipe.


Christine LaRocque September 6, 2010 at 7:11 am

I am not fond of when people drop by unexpectedly. I’d like to think I could be, but truthfully it throws me off my game.

Pasta…anything pasta is good in my books. Hence the hips.


Lyndsey September 6, 2010 at 7:19 am

My my you are bossy! But then with such a nice simple salad you have to have good ingredients….and isn’t it all about the good ingredients?

I know,,,who has friends drop by? Unless they are out there just to serve people and always have a clean house and too much food on there hands!!! Thank goodness I don’t have any friends that do that either…and I have a big hairy dog…need I say more? :)


Sherri September 6, 2010 at 8:09 am

If / when anyone just drops by, I usually force them to drink coffee all day with me – maybe I should feed them something other than the half-used container of hummus I have or the blueberries my two year old was unable to finish. This looks good – easy – and yeah – a recipe…. Some of us, ya know – just can’t throw things together like you can ;-).


Erin September 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

I love this – and I have a bunch of tomatoes to use. I know what’s for lunch! Most of my friends live out of town – and then I usually make them help me, so they’ll appreciate this one!


Chiara September 6, 2010 at 8:46 am

That’s why the friend that lives the closest to me lives 45 miles away… so they can’t drop by and catch me eating standing in front of the fridge while I listen to obscure Indie rock tunes.
The pasta looks great, I make a similar tomato based “sauce” to serve over fish.


Elly Lou September 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

I like that all the dangerous stuff happens early. So then you can get your drink on and slap it together later without fear of losing a digit or scalding your forehead. (Been there, done that.)


~Laura September 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

I have loads of cherry tomatoes right now. So, this is just perfect! I’ve made something similar before and it’s never come out looking quite so pretty as yours does in this picture! Those classes really paid off. Beautiful looking food! And I’m sure it’s yummy too!


Wendi September 6, 2010 at 10:17 am

I love my friends but I would probably have a hissy fit if any of them just “dropped by”. Hopefully they would have sense enough to bring take out because my kitchen does not specialize in spontaneous meals.


Maria September 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I’m with you with crazy folks that just “happen to be in the neighborhood.” Sounds to me like they are lurking around for good grub. And, if you serve something like this, they won’t be deterred from coming around, either.

LOVE this and the idea that I can sit and have wine while it “cooks.” If only we lived closer, we would both be in a 12 step problem and have asses to match!


julie September 6, 2010 at 12:22 pm

This looks delicious. I’d use mediocre olive oil cause I always buy mine at wal mart, because it comes in plastic bottles and I drop things all the time. I never have people drop by either, at least not anyone I would want to feed :)


jc September 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Bossypants, I’m soooo coming over someday. Totally unannounced. Don’t worry, I’ll be bearing gifts of valium, chocolate, and pig parts.


Heather September 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm

People stopping by unexpectedly??? The mere idea sends my little heart a-racing! But, should the crazy occasion ever arise I’ll keep you in mind!


Sarah September 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm

You got me nearly crying into my non-existent wine glass because I have no friends ever who would just pop by and I’d go to the trouble of making a lovely dinner for.

On another note, this sounds divine and your pics are gorgeous. The little photographer is blossoming.


Paula September 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm

No “friends” dropping by unexpectedly here either. I can only remember once or twice and no way were they expecting dinner. Now my married kids? That’s another matter all together. Love the colors in your pictures.


Corinne September 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm

We don’t have friends who would do that either :( Maybe it’s different when you have kids? I don’t know… or live in a neighborhood or small town? Or maybe that’s just how they do it in The Hamptons or wherever it is that Ina spends her summers ;)
This sounds so yummy.
And love the vegetarian recipe ;) I’m voting for more of those!


elizabeth September 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I never understood the whole “My friends drop by unexpectedly! Heehee!” meme that the Food Network tried to make happen (though I also hate the party planning Sandra Lee does on her Semi-Ho show in which NO ONE makes an appearance), and if we find ourselves in Colorado we will certainly give you ample notice ahead of time. That said, we’d be pretty happy being given the above because it looks really delicious.


Aging Mommy September 6, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Sounds fabulous and as a garlic lover I would leave all the garlic in there! I am so like you with respect to friends and unexpected visitors, I too will run and hide at an unexpected knock at the door and always have been that way.


Allison @ Alli 'n Son September 6, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Um, yummy!

Sadly, we never have unexpected visitors drop by. And if we did, I wouldn’t know. I don’t answer the door when I’m home alone.


Jane September 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm

The recipe? Sounds divine! Dropping in on you unexpectedly? I’m up to the challenge to be your first friend at the door. And you’d better answer!


Stephane September 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm

You are sooo lovable. You make me smile!


theUngourmet September 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Well, I have no friends to drop by but I’m fine with that…I’ll just sit and eat this whole darn thing all by myself! I’ll take mine with the Italian tuna added in.


faemom September 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Oh my God. That looks so good! I just became hungry staring at that picture and reading the recipe. Excuse me while I get a lesser quality snack.


Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point September 6, 2010 at 10:34 pm

I love this dish! The colors, the simple flavors, the ease of preparation. And I’m a big garlic fan so I might leave the bits in!


Phoo-d September 7, 2010 at 6:38 am

This is the quintessential summer pasta. Perfect only in summer and no other time of year. We haven’t made this yet and I need to get on it while the tomatoes are still good!


Amber September 7, 2010 at 7:10 am

Oh, wow, Kitch. This looks amazing. My husband loves to throw little pasta dishes, like this, together and I already know he will be thrilled with this recipe.

You know what? I don’t have friends that randomly come over, either. I think they are averse to noise kids or something. But, if I lived closer to you, I ‘d probably load the kids up in the stroller and head over to your place. I like to do doorstep visits, where we have a quick conversation on the porch and both say good-bye feeling satisfied that we have had adult conversation during the day.


Mrs. Mayhem September 7, 2010 at 7:20 am

Your photo made me hungry (and it’s only 10 am… so thanks).

We make a similar recipe with the tomatoes and basil from our garden. Heavenly. And you’re right, good olive oil and good cheese make all the difference.


Suzi Q September 7, 2010 at 7:24 am

I know I haven’t been commenting much lately but I’m definately still reading and enjoying every single recipe you’ve posted. I just have one question: can I come live with you? I don’t know how you create such beautiful dishes day after day!


Barbara September 7, 2010 at 8:03 am

I promise if I ever am in town, I will call you days in advance so you won’t hide in the closet. :) I KNOW you have lots of friends and they all all aware of what a good cook you are, so it would amaze me if you didn’t have drop-ins.

Anyway, I love simple dishes like this. And the simpler they are the more perfect the ingredients have to be. Ina is right.


katie o. September 7, 2010 at 8:10 am

luckily i live nowhere close to any of my friends so no unexpected pop ins. but this recipe would still be perfect for me to eat…any night of the week.


Ink September 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

Looks yum.

And I’m with you — I hate unexpected visits so much that I even have a name for them: “the dreaded pop-in.”


Ink September 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

ps: our best friends knew of that name and used to preface their occasional unexpected visits by saying, “We know you hate the dreaded pop-in, BUT…” Which made us all laugh.


SuziCate September 7, 2010 at 10:19 am

I love quick, easy, and adaptable! Sounds like my kind of recipe! Thanks.


Emily Z September 7, 2010 at 10:54 am

This may be simple, but it sure is beautifully put together. I think it’s pretty obvious that I love my pasta dishes, this looks perfect to me!


k odell September 7, 2010 at 11:02 am

I was already gonna make this! I picked the tomatoes from my garden and I have basil growing inside. I love this dish because it takes so little time, and usually I have the ingredients on hand (sometimes I use canned tomatoes when I absolutely have to). I also love to eat it hot or cold. bonus.


Jenna September 7, 2010 at 11:09 am

Hehe! I know–I never have people “unexpectedly drop by” . . . and you’re such a funny writer. =)


soccermom September 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

This is my kind of recipe. I am not for following directions on anything. I like to just fly by the seat of my pants when cooking. Which the sportsman so does not like.
That is why I am not requested very often to cook anything.


Cathy September 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I am in love with tomato season. Any recipe will suit me just fine.


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday September 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I have a friend who lives down my street who sometimes pops by unexpected. She doesn’t get anything to eat though. She’s lucky if I suggest we take a seat. Usually we stand in my foyer and chat as I hold the dog back from jumping all over her.


Biz September 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I had a neighbor drop by yesterday as a amatter of fact – unannounced, right while I was in the middle of making pepper jelly so the house smelled like ass! That didn’t prevent him from staying over an hour, and eating some bread with pepper jelly!

Not a fan of cherry tomatoes, but love how bright and fresh this looks. Hope you had a great long weekend!


Camille Bright-Smith September 7, 2010 at 9:17 pm

That creepy f-ing meat guy just doesn’t stop!!!!!

Well, anyway. As usual we have lots in common. I will try to make a date to come over, drink wine and wait for those luscious tomato’s to soak up some garlic! xox. You are so fantastic!!


Tiffany September 8, 2010 at 6:58 am



rebecca @ altared spaces September 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm

This is so beautiful I could eat the picture. I love EVERYTHING in it, especially the tomatoes, garlic and basil…or that’s the bulk of it. Wow, I’m off the hook so easily.

Saved (in the I-don’t-have-to-cook-sense). And still so European seeming. How stunning.


Gibby September 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Well, I did have that pop-in the other day, but I got away with serving just coffee. Not to mention…when I make this beautiful dish, I’m not sharing!


ck September 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Liar. No way you don’t have friends popping by. You’re way too funny to be a loner. :)


pastacı September 30, 2010 at 7:48 pm

en iyi pasta tarifleri burada 2010 1 cisi


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