During the summer months when tomatoes are in season, we look for practically any excuse to use our garden tomatoes. The basil plant that we frantically try to keep from completely going to seed, also beckons.
"The time is NOW," the garden seems to say, "take advantage of us while you can!"
Here's a quick and easy pasta side to help lighten the garden guilt, if only by a couple tomatoes and a handful of basil. It's another favorite of my friend Heidi H (thanks Heidi!).
This pasta dish uses bits of melty brie to bring it all together - the tomatoes, pasta, basil, garlic, and baby spinach, and is tossed with Parmesan before serving. Yum!
Pasta with Tomato, Spinach, Basil, and Brie
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound chopped fresh, ripe tomatoes (about 2 medium tomatoes)
- 6 ounces brie cheese, rind removed, cheese cut into small chunks
- Zest and juice of one lemon (about 1 teaspoon zest and 3 Tbsp juice)
- A handful of basil leaves, chiffonade or sliced thin
- 5 ounces baby spinach, rinsed, patted dry
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound of linguine or fettuccine pasta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper taste
Cook the pasta:
Heat a large pot of salted water for making the pasta (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). While the water is heating, prep the ingredients. Once water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente (cooked through, but still a little firm to the bite).
Heat brie with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, lemon, in microwave:
While the pasta is cooking, place the garlic, olive oil, chopped tomatoes, chunks of brie (make sure to cut away the white rind!), lemon zest, and lemon juice into a large, microwave safe bowl.
Microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until the brie is melty and soft. (If you don't have a microwave, place the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for an hour or two, so the brie softens.)
Toss cooked pasta with tomatoes and brie, add spinach and basil:
Once the pasta is done, drain it and place it in the bowl with the cheese and tomatoes. Add the basil and baby spinach.
Toss together so that the spinach, basil, cheese, and tomatoes are well dispersed through the pasta. Break up or smash any large pieces of cheese.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper:
and toss more to incorporate. Add more salt to taste.