Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Basil, and Crisp Bread Crumbs



Joanne Weir Cooking Class Second SeasonIf there was ever a food marriage blessed by the gods, it's surely tomatoes and basil. Pick vine-ripened tomatoes at their height of sweetness, combine them with tender leaves of young basil and pasta, and top the whole dish with crunchy golden bread crumbs. This is what summer should be, when the best peak-of-season ingredients stand by themselves and make the finished dish shine.

1 cup very coarse fresh bread crumbs
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups red cherry tomatoes, halved
12 ounces dried fettuccine
1/2 cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Place the bread crumbs on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss the crumbs to distribute the oil evenly. Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Bake in the middle of the oven, tossing occasionally, until they turn golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and stir together. Set aside.

Fill a large pot three-fourths full of salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes or according to the directions on the package.

Drain the pasta and toss with the tomatoes and vinaigrette. Place in a serving bowl and garnish with basil and bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

TO DRINK: Pinot Grigio