If you're good at multitasking, start the sauce as soon as the pasta goes into the pot so everything comes together at about the same time. If this feels stressful, cook the pasta first and then start the sauce. Either way, dinner is ready fast!
For a fancier presentation, if serving this at a dinner party, remove half of the tomatoes before tossing with the pasta. Plate the pasta, then top with the reserved tomatoes.
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pounds angel hair pasta (capellini or capelli d’Angelo), or another thin spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pints red and yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, removed from the stems
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil. Add the pasta and stir well until the water returns to a boil.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is tender. With a ladle or a heat-proof liquid measuring cup, remove about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.
Drain the pasta but do not rinse it; transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss well.
2 Prep the tomatoes: Pierce small whole tomatoes with a skewer or the tip of a paring knife. Halve the tomatoes if they’re large.
3 Make the sauce: In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the cherry tomatoes – they will splutter – along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and black pepper.
Cook, shaking the pan, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to collapse and form juices. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes more.
4 Toss the pasta with the sauce: Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Toss well.
Add more pasta water if needed, a tablespoon at a time, to thin the mixture so the sauce coats the pasta. Add half the basil leaves and toss again.
5 Serve: Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 large bowls. Add a few basil leaves on top of the pasta and sprinkle generously with Parmesan.