It may be fall, but summer’s tomatoes are not finished. The days are warm and gentle, and our tomato plants are hanging in there, kicking back and relaxing on the vine in the golden California sunshine. We pass by and pop them in our mouths, or pick a bunch and pile them in bowls for a snack. But they still accumulate. When I have too much (is that really possible?) I look for other uses, and there are many.
This is one of my favorite ways to cook with an abundance of cherry tomatoes. It coincides perfectly with the beginning of the school year, when we are crazy busy and running in 4 directions. The family dinner becomes elusive and suddenly time specific. Yet it’s even more important now, providing a great moment to sit together and connect after our busy day. This recipe is the perfect antidote. It may be prepared in almost no time, it’s healthy and economical, and it usually pleases the fussiest of eaters. Which is good, because they need to eat and get to their homework.
Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata
Serves 4, unless you have a teen-aged boy. Then it serves 1.
For the Breadcrumb Gremolata:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and/or basil
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the pasta:
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
Prepare the gremolata:
Toast the breadcrumbs in a dry skillet until light golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
Prepare the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling bowl. Add linguine and cook until al dente; drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, but don’t completely dissolve, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Add linguine to skillet and toss to coat. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle with the gremolata. Serve immediately.