I feel like kind of a hack posting tomato recipes in the summertime. The truth is, tomato season is about the easiest time of year for us home cooks. Halve them and smear them on crusty bread with garlic and oil, quarter them and toss them with herbs and vinaigrette, dice them and toss them with pasta and good olive oil, puree them with cucumber and peppers for gazpacho. When they’re in season, they’re heavenly and require very little work. So I really shouldn’t be congratulating myself for incorporating the latest batch of candy-sweet, juicy tomatoes into a pasta dish–but I think you’ll thank me for sharing this one.
My family looks forward to pasta with tomatoes and brie each year when my dad’s tomatoes reach their peak in August. My mom started making it several years ago after she got the recipe from our next door neighbor who said it’s one of her favorites. Given that this lady’s thin as a rail, she must have portion control thing down pat because it’s very difficult to eat a small portion of this pasta.
I like to chop the tomatoes first and let them sit in a bowl on the counter for up to a few hours before I make the rest of the dish. This allows time for their sweet, acidic juices to mingle with the fresh basil, fruity olive oil and garlic.
Whenever Sean and I make this dish, we always argue over who gets the lovely task of cubing the brie. (Notice who lost this time!) It’s a pain, but it’s well worth the effort. As soon as that brie hits the hot pasta, it begins to melt, binding with the juice from the tomatoes to form a sauce.
To make it a bit easier on yourself, slip the brie into the freezer about 30 minutes before cubing it and use a very sharp knife. It will keep the sticking and oozing to a minimum. Or better yet, recruit an assistant for the job. It helps if the assistant has a taste for brie rind.
Pasta with tomatoes and brie
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1 pound brie
Method: In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture sit at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. I recommend doing this step an hour or two in advance, so the flavors have time to marry.
Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until just al dente. While the pasta cooks, remove the rind from the brie and cut into 1/4-inch cubes.
Drain the pasta. Dump the tomato mixture into the same pot you used for the pasta. Add the hot pasta and the brie, and toss everything together with tongs. Add a few glugs of olive oil to loosen the sauce. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve immediately (though it’s just as delicious once it cools down to room temp). Serves 4.