Heirloom Tomatoes & Basil Oil with Pasta

Is it getting a bit warm where you live?  Are you just not wanting to even fire up that Barbie, or gawd forbid, turn on that oven?  You have to add this dish to your "almost no cooking involved" category.  It can be served warm, at room temp, or cold — which means it can also be made ahead.  If you aren't a tomato or basil lover, then you'll have to keep looking for something relatively easy but incredibly delicious to make for dinner tonight.  But we'll all talk about you after you leave while we're wiping the basil oil off our chins.

Yes, I love tomatoes.  You figured that out, right?  So this recipe is a no brainer.  The first time I came across "Pasta with Tomato Vinaigrette," I lived on a half-acre with a small vegetable garden and our tomatoes were growing like crazy.  In fact, if I remember correctly, our neighbor commented that our "volunteer" tomatoes wouldn't produce as they had the year before, because they never do.  Never say never.  We had so many huge, beefsteak tomatoes, we were experimenting with canning, and making marinara sauce to freeze.  At some point, a small table went up outside near the road, piled with tomatoes and a sign that said, "FREE."  Ah…Those were the days.

"Pasta with Tomato Vinaigrette" is one of the very few recipes I actually have made many times over the years.  It truly is one of our family favorites.  I first saw it in Michael Chiarello's Flavored Oils:  50 Recipes for Cooking with Infused Oils.  I've tried many basil-flavored olive oils, but none compare to his Consorzio line.  Img_1484
I also enjoy the Garlic and Red Pepper oils.  Although I recently noticed that there has been a change in ownership of the product, so far, I haven't noticed a change in the quality, which is fabulously intensely flavored.  If you use another type of oil for the recipe, the end product is still good, but the basil oil makes the dish, so purchase an excellent one.

If you want to check out more on Michael Chiarello, he has a fabulous site called Napa Style where lots of recipes are posted.  I guarantee you'll be drooling in no time.

This recipe is best when tomatoes are in their top form, and haven't been refrigerated.  Yes, refrigerating tomatoes helps them last longer — unless you're me because my refrigerator veggie bin is really an enormous science experiment — but refrigeration destroys the taste.  Sad, but true.

Pasta With Tomato Vinaigrette


8 medium vine-ripened red tomatoes (I used a variety of heirloom tomatoes for this post)Img_1184_2

    peeled, seeded, and chopped ( I have never done this — it takes too long and you lose too much juice)
2 T. minced shallots (I use about a half a large red onion, diced)
1 T. minced garlic (I use about 3 large cloves minced)
6 T. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I use 1/4 c. parsley, and 1/4 basil chiffonade)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (Meyers are delicious)
1 c. basil olive oil
salt and fresh ground peppper
1-1/2 lbs. dried pasta (meaty pasta like orecchiette works best)
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese


  1. Cook pasta al dente and reserve with a bit of the pasta water left to keep things from sticking.
  2. Mix together chopped tomatoes, shallots, garlic, 1/4 cup parsley, lemon juice, basil oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a nonaluminum bowl and let rest at room temp for 15-20 minutes.  If serving much later than this, do not add salt until 15 minutes before serving. Salt pulls the juice out of the tomatoes.
  3. When ready to serve, drain the pasta completely and pour onto a large serving platter or pasta bowl. 
  4. Add 1/2 c. grated cheese to the tomato mixture and stir.
  5. Pour tomato mixture over the pasta, sprinkle with the basil chiffonade, and the remaining cheese.

It looks beautiful like this, but it tastes better if it's been mixed up and has rested a bit.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread to soak up the juice.  I promise it's heavenly.  Just think of all those complex carbs and flavonoids that your body will be screaming "thank you" for.


This recipe is great with grilled steak, chicken, or shrimp.  Also, I have split the cup of basil olive oil in half and added extra virgin olive oil instead.  If doing that, I've omitted the parsley, and used a cup of fresh basil.  Green onions work well instead of the red onions, but the color isn't as pretty. Enjoy!Img_1192