Tonight’s dinner was composed of fresh ingredients from our trip to the 14th&U Farmers’ Market yesterday afternoon.
The stars of the show were 2 varieties of some of the best cherry tomatoes we’ve ever had – “sun gold” and “black cherry,” both from Garner’s Produce. At least all the heat we’ve been getting around here has been good for something!
The tomatoes were accompanied by a red-and-green (really almost maroon) bell pepper, also from Garner, and a few basil leaves from my barely-surviving apartment herb garden. (I welcome any tips on keeping my basil alive – and producing new leaves – indoors for more than a few weeks.)
The “sauce” for the dish was composed primarily of “Monocacy Silver” Soft Ripened Goat Cheese from Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Company. This cheese, creamy and brie-like just under the rind with a soft and crumbly center, has a bit more sharpness and character than a “fresh” (un-ripened) chevre and is the perfect compliment to super sweet, peak-of-the-season cherry tomatoes. It melts beautifully on freshly-cooked pasta, creating a decadently creamy sauce without all the heaviness and calories of a traditional cream sauce. You’ll notice that I did add a little heavy cream to the dish, but it’s completely optional. I was just finishing a leftover ingredient. (Incidentally, the cheese was also particularly good for lunch this afternoon: spread on toasted whole wheat bread with smoked turkey, baby greens, thinly sliced tomato and red onion, a little extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.)
When it’s not homemade, the pasta we use is whole wheat. Our favorite is Bionaturae. It’s one of the few “whole wheat” pastas out there that is actually made with 100% whole grain. It’s Italian, organic, and – equally as important – delicious.
Pasta with Market-Fresh Tomatoes, Peppers, and Goat Cheese
8 ounces whole wheat pasta (We used chiocciole; any short shape will do.)
1 bell pepper
1/2 pint “golden” cherry tomatoes
1/2 pint “black” cherry tomatoes
4-5 ounces soft goat cheese, any rind removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
several leaves of fresh basil, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a 4-quart pot of water to boil. Generously salt the water and cook pasta until al dente.
While the water is coming to a boil, halve and core the bell pepper and cut into 1/2-inch squares. In a small skillet, heat over medium heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil (olive or otherwise, but not extra virgin). Add cut bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper is tender and lightly browned on the edges (5 to 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes and lightly salt.
Once pasta is cooked and drained, return to original pot with crumbled goat cheese, tomatoes, peppers, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Toss gently over medium heat. Add cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve immediately. If desired, garnish with additional fresh basil leaves or crumbled goat cheese.