Summer joy: Tomato, brie, and herb pasta

With simple ingredients and just a bit of chopping, this sweet and creamy pasta dish comes together without much work or kitchen heat.

The Runaway Spoon
A vegan man from New Jersey debated the price of his pasta after ordering a custom dish at a restaurant. This simple, tomato brie and herb pata is vegetarian.

I’ve been making this dish for years, decades if I’m honest. I really thought it was my own unique creation, and I patted myself on the back for its genius every time I made it. It’s been my date night dinner, my decadent solo treat and my impressive meal for friends. I made it in my first apartment kitchen and shared it with my first house roommate.

It dates, for me, to a time when anything with brie seemed sophisticated and gourmet, before I had stretched my culinary wings too far. But I just realized, when developing it and photographing it for The Spoon, that it’s not my recipe. It’s from the classic "Silver Palate Cookbook," which I have had for years. My favorite recipes in the book are marked and stained – but oddly not this one. Oh, I’ve changed it up a little to suit my tastes, but it is definitely from the cookbook.

Recipes do that, they travel and share and move and become part of a family or a personal legend. I love looking through community cookbooks from different eras and different regions and finding the same basic recipe, maybe with a different name or spelling. That’s one of the many magical aspects of cooking and feeding friends and family, the community built around good food. And by the way, I also recently realized that I’ve been taking credit for Nigella Lawson’s lemon linguine for some time now, too.

This really is the joy of summer in a delicious, creamy pasta dish. And it’s quick to put together – just a bit of chopping. Sweet cherry tomatoes really shine in this dish, with the nice firm bite preserved. The simple sauce smells wonderfully summery and the brie melts and coats the pasta, making a rich and decadent cream sauce without the work and kitchen heat.

Tomato, Brie and Herb Pasta
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, loosely packed
2 cloves garlic
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 pound Brie
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pound linguine or spaghetti

Finely chop the basil and oregano and place in a large bowl that will hold all the cooked pasta. Put the garlic through a press, or finely chop it, sprinkling a little salt over it during the process.This helps mellow the garlic, you don’t want big chunks.

Cut the tomatoes in quarters, or chop them smaller if you’d like, and add to the bowl. Scrape the rind off the cheese – you don’t have to be too precise about this, just do your best. A serrated knife and cold cheese helps. Cut the brie into small pieces, or pull it apart with your fingers, and add to the bowl. Pour in the olive oil, add few good pinches of salt and grind in some fresh pepper. Stir everything together, cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for a least an hour, but several hours is fine. The tomatoes will release their juices and the cheese will become meltingly soft.

When you are ready to eat, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain quickly, then pour the hot pasta over the sauce in the bowl. Leave to sit for a few minutes to melt the cheese and heat the tomatoes through. Toss the pasta and the sauce together until the pasta and tomatoes are well coated. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

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