Terrance Brennan cooks this pasta risotto-style by stirring in rich chicken stock a ladleful at a time. As the pasta releases its starch, the dish becomes delicately milky. Instead of finishing the dish with a knob of butter, he folds in fresh goat cheese, which turns creamy in the gentle heat. Brennan uses a small, tube-shaped pasta called ditalini, but any small cut works.
Slideshow: One-Dish Pasta Recipes
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for poaching
3 plum tomatoes—peeled, quartered and seeded
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces),
plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.
Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.
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