Really good, really fresh tomatoes at the peak of the season need little adornment, and this pasta dish from my all-time favorite cookbook, Field of Greens by Annie Somerville honors that premise. Be sure to marinate the tomatoes for at least 30 minutes to ensure the flavors are well developed, she advises.
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, cut in half crosswise and seeded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup coarsley chopped fresh basil, and 20 to 25 leaves
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound dry penne
1/2 cup Garlic Bread Crumbs (see below)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cut the tomatoes into large pieces and, in a glass bowl, toss with the olive oil, garlic, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Add the penne and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, transfer the tomato mixture and juices to a large saute pan and quickly warm them over medium heat, making sure not to cook them or their skins will draw away. Drain the penne in a colander. Shake off the excess water, then add the pasta to the saute pan and toss with the tomatoes. Sprinkle generously with the bread crumbs and serve with the Parmesan cheese.
3. For the garlic bread crumbs: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Finely chop 2 or 3 cloves garlic and mix with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange thin slices of crusty bread on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the garlic oil. Bake until they are very crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Cool, then grind in a food processor or blender into coarse crumbs.
Serves 2 to 4.