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Thursday, July 14, 2011 03:14 pm

Fresh tomato, brie, garlic, and basil pasta sauce


My kids loved making this sauce – and still do; it’s something they’ve continued to make as adults. If the tomatoes aren’t peeled, there’s no cooking involved beyond placing a bowl in a warm oven, making it ideal for age-appropriate kids to prepare on their own, or with adult supervision. Be sure that the brie is fresh: it should be firm and not bulging out the sides, and should smell fresh, with no hint of ammonia.

  • 3 c. coarsely chopped,
  • seeded tomatoes
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 8 - 12 oz. brie cheese*
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. – 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper
Use the most flavorful tomatoes you can find. Any type works well – cherry tomatoes, Romas, heirloom black, green, yellow or striped, as well as red. A combination of colors/types is attractive. The tomatoes can be peeled or not. To peel tomatoes, drop in boiling water for 5 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon. The peel will remove easily. Remove the seeds and the jelly substance around them and cut into bite-sized chunks. Put the tomatoes in a sieve and toss with the salt. Let the tomatoes drain for 15 minutes, then place in a serving bowl large enough to accommodate the pasta and condiment when finished.

While the tomatoes are draining, turn the oven on low for 5 minutes, then turn it off.

 Cut the cheese into cubes and add to the tomatoes. Stir in the garlic and olive oil. Tear the basil leaves into pieces or chiffonade them (cut into very thin strips; best done by stacking the leaves before cutting). Add half the basil, reserving the rest, and the pepper. Place the bowl in the warm oven for 30 minutes to let the ingredients warm and the flavors combine. The tomatoes will continue to exude juice, which is fine.

While the sauce is in the oven bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a few tablespoons of salt. About 10 minutes before the tomato mixture should be removed from the oven, cut the knefli into the pot. Alternatively, use one pound of dried pasta, such as penne, or orchiette (this small shallow cup-shape pasta’s name means “little pig ears” in Italian.)

When the pasta/knefli is cooked, drain and IMMEDIATELY add to the tomato/brie mixture, tossing until the ingredients are combined and the cheese has incorporated into the sauce. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with the remaining basil.  Serves 4 – 8.

 *You can use the brie with the rind on or off, or just trim off the thicker parts of the rind. Whatever your preference, 8 oz. should be used in the dish. If the rind is completely removed it takes approximately 12 oz. cheese with rind to yield 8 oz. trimmed.
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