When Le Cirque opened in 1976, Jean Vergnes was the chef-partner with Sirio Maccioni, the famous restaurateur. One day, not too long before the opening, Pierre, Ed Giobbi and Jacques Pépin were talking with Jean and a few other chefs, and Sirio asked Ed if he could think up a new and interesting pasta dish for the new restaurant. Ed boasted about a pasta recipe of his grandmother's that consisted of pasta served with a salad of raw tomatoes or early spring vegetables. Pasta Primavera was born and would be expounded upon in dozens of ways in the years to come.
Ed's original recipe of room temperature tomato cubes marinated in olive oil and flavored with basil and garlic is still the best for Pépin and the one that is most often enjoyed at his home when tomatoes are in season. The tomato salad is also a great mixture to pile on top of toast for serving as crostini.
Fast Weekday Pastas
1 pound ripe tomatoes (2 or 3 tomatoes)
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded basil leaves
1 pound penne or bow tie pasta
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
How to Make It
Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, parallel to the stems and gently press the seeds out. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces and put them in a bowl large enough to hold the finished dish. Add the remainder of the salad ingredients and toss well.
Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, bring back to a boil and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and add immediately to the tomato salad. Toss thoroughly and divide the pasta among four soup plates. Sprinkle generously with the Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
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