08 October 2012

Black Rice Pasta with Fresh Tri-Tomato Sauce

I was thinking of a way to enjoy the last of the seasonal tomatoes before they all but disappear from my farmer's market, and this pasta dish hits the spot. Three tomato varieties are combined to create a pleasingly fresh but complex flavor, one unexpected for a barely-cooked sauce. The tomatoes gently simmer over heat just long enough to make a sauce that delicately coats the pasta but that still retains the bright flavor we all love in a light fresh summer tomato sauce. Be generous with the basil and Parmesan shavings.

A note about the black rice pasta. Of course quinoa pasta or regular pasta would be equally delicious, to name just a few, but I was in the mood for a dramatic looking pasta dish. I also love that the black rice pasta is nutritionally dense making for a nicely rounded dish. I made this a meal with a walnut and zucchini Carpaccio salad on the side. 

Black Rice Pasta with Fresh Tri-Tomato Sauce
Serves 4

1 lb large tomatoes (approximately 4-6, depending on the size)
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
several pinches of red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, dabbed with paper towel to remove most of oil and sliced
2 Tbsp. capers
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Big handful basil, torn
1 lb black rice pasta* 
Parmesan cheese, for shaving at the table

Score large tomatoes and drop in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander and rinse under cold water. Skin the tomatoes and chop. Add the pasta to the same boiling water and cook according to package directions.* 

In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil for one minute, then add chopped, skinned tomatoes, and gently stir to combine. Add sun dried tomatoes and capers and cover to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove lid, add salt, ground black pepper, and cherry tomatoes. Cover again to simmer until cherry tomatoes are warmed through and barely starting to soften (2-3 minutes). Taste sauce and adjust seasoning, if needed. Throw in the basil and gently toss with pasta. 

Serve immediately topped with Parmesan shavings and more freshly ground black pepper. 

*Box sizes of black rice pasta can vary, but try to get at least 400 grams. Otherwise extra sauce is great tossed into a quinoa salad or spooned over grilled fish or vegetables.
Black rice pasta can go from al dente to gummy in a flash. So err on the side of under-cooking the pasta by a minute or so, and immediately drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss with a little olive oil if you're not quite ready to combine it with the sauce.

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