I had this dish for the first time in the only trattoria overlooking the port of Salina, one of the small islands that form the archipelago of the Lipari islands north of Sicily. Everything is so intense on this islands the sun, the people, the capers, the basil, the oregano, the malvasia, (sweet dessert wine), the eggplants, and the tomatoes. In this dish, the sun seemed to explode in my very mouth with each bite of pasta that I took.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for the pasta cooking water
- 4 cups halved, vine ripened cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon peperoncino (crushed red pepper)
- 1 pound large pasta shapes, such as rigatoni, ziti or fusilli
- 10 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 4 ounces)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large serving bowl toss the tomatoes with the oil, crushed red pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let the tomatoes marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally. Meanwhile, stir the pasta into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, uncover the pot. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente— tender but firm— about 12 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta well. Stir the reserved water and the basil into the tomatoes. Add the pasta and toss. Add the Pecorino, toss again and serve.