This yummy little recipe first appeared in my cookbook The Fresh and Green Table (Chronicle, 2012). It makes a nice light supper for two with a salad or you can use it as a bed for grilled chicken or shrimp. You can make it any time of the year with store-bought cherry or grape tomatoes or in the summer with farm stand cherry tomatoes. Once you try roasting cherry tomatoes — and find out what a versatile ingredient they are — you’ll be using them in all kinds of preparations, not just pasta.

The other big flavor secret here is the infused oil. It only takes a few seconds to heat chopped garlic and chile flakes in a few tablespoons of oil and, voila, you have a flavor booster for pasta. Along with the juices of the roasted tomatoes, a few tablespoons of pasta-cooking water, and the Parmigianno (which I like to grind coarsely in a small food processor rather than using a grater), you’ve got a great combo.

Serves 2

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • ½ teaspoon (scant) red pepper (chile) flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons (or more to taste)  thinly sliced fresh basil, mint or parsley leaves, or a combination. 
  • 1/4 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, more for garnish if desired
  • 1 recipe (about 1 ¼ cups) Roasted Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

 

1. In a small nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to simmer in the oil. Cook for just about 30 seconds more to infuse the oil. (Do not let the garlic brown.) Take the skillet off the heat and set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions. Take the pasta pot off the heat, and before draining the pasta, pour a few tablespoons of the pasta water into a small cup or bowl. (Set a small cup or bowl in the sink next to the colander as a reminder.) Drain the pasta in a colander and return it to the pasta pot.

3. Gently reheat the infused oil if necessary.

4. Season the pasta with ¼ teaspoon salt and drizzle and scrape all of the spicy garlic oil over it. Toss well. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes, the Parmigiano, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Stir gently but thoroughly until the pasta turns a light pink color. (You don’t want to break up the tomatoes, just release some of their juice.) Add a little bit more pasta water if necessary. Stir in most of the fresh herbs.

5. Using tongs, portion the spaghetti and the roasted tomatoes (which tend to roll to the bottom of the pot!) into two shallow serving bowls. Garnish with the remaining herbs (and a little extra Parmigiano if you like) and serve right away.