By Mario Batali, Epicurious.com
New York City's Italian impresario Mario Batali likes to use Sun Gold tomatoes-a sweet, slightly tannic variety of cherry tomato-to make this dish. Any good cherry or grape tomatoes, or a chopped large tomato, will work, too. Be sure to cook the tomatoes down until they've released all of their juices.
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• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 8 ounces Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• Kosher salt
• 6 ounces capellini, spaghetti, or bucatini
• 3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
• 8 medium fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
• Toasted breadcrumbs (for garnish; optional)
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes, season with salt, and cook, covered slightly and swirling pan often, until tomatoes blister and burst, 10-12 minutes. Press down on tomatoes to release their juices. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5 quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
Transfer pasta to skillet with tomatoes; set over high heat. Add 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook, stirring and tossing often, until sauce thickens and begins to coat the pasta, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining oil, cheese, and half the basil and toss until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Add remaining basil, season with salt, and serve with breadcrumbs, if desired. Yields 2 servings.
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Photo: Tom Schierlitz
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