This simple recipe provides a burst of sunshine any time of year.
This spicy and saucy tomato pasta leans upon that diminutive fruit for an easy weeknight meal that delivers bright flavor with minimal effort. The sauce starts with just two fresh ingredients — cherry tomatoes and basil — and is finished with tomato paste and salty capers for a robust punch.
Tomato paste fortifies the fruit’s flavor, the same way a combination of fresh lemon juice and zest might intensify the flavors of a citrus dessert. The technique here is simple: While your pasta water boils, heat some olive oil, squeeze in some tomato paste, and cook until it darkens from brick red to a plummy shade of red wine. This effectively caramelizes the paste, exaggerating the tomato’s natural sweetness.
Sweat some garlic and red-pepper flakes — or Aleppo pepper, chiles de árbol, gochujang or any other spicy condiment you have on hand — then simmer with cherry tomatoes and a splash of pasta water, and your pasta sauce is ready in 20 minutes.
Toss in your cooked pasta — orecchiette will cup everything nicely, but any shaped pasta will suffice — and some torn basil, top with crispy fried capers and a dollop of ricotta, and you’ve got a quick pasta dish that will taste like summer no matter what season it is.