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I'm happiest when the food I make becomes a backdrop to a lively conversation. When I'm not cooking, I'm traveling or dreaming about travel. Come sit with me, and enjoy! Read more here.

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« crostata di fichi: look out ladies, here comes the tart of the party | Main | fig, arugula, and bacon salad: a high-five to fig season »

pasta snails with baby heirloom tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts

Every summer I visit our Takoma Park farmer's market and load up on large heirloom tomatoes and the babies, which burst with sweetness and flavor. This dish, which features the baby tomatoes, celebrates the height of summer when heirloom tomatoes are at their peak.

The bright acid from the tomatoes connects the fragrant basil, barely cooked red onion, earthy toasted pine nuts, and salty olives and feta, creating a ton of flavor. A splash of lemon juice and a glug of high quality Italian olive oil bring the intense flavors into balance while the snail-shaped pasta shells (chiocciole) trap the goodness in each bite.

You can enjoy this fast, delicious dish at home or pack it up and take it to the park like Paul and I did a few nights ago. We followed our feast with a lively game of petanque, the French version of Italian Bocce, and paired the pasta -- and the fun-filled game -- with an excellent bottle of Brouilly, a light-bodied red wine from the Beaujolais wine region of France with hints of cherry and strawberry. 

Pasta Snails (Chiocciole) with Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, and Pinenuts

Serves 2 - 3 as a main course or 6 as a starter

2 cups chiocciole
8-10 baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
15 basil leaves, sliced lengthwise
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon butter
4 - 5 tablespoons high quality olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

Sprinkle the sugar, salt, and pepper over the sliced baby heirloom tomatoes and set aside.

Cook  the pasta as instructed on the package.

Meanwhile, add butter to a non-stick pan and heat until the butter is sizzling. Add the diced red onion and sautee for 30 seconds (you still want the onion to have crunch). Remove the onion from the pan and set it aside in a large bowl.

Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl. Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, and basil and toss. Top with the lemon juice, feta, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Reader Comments (7)

Scrumptious, yet simple and manageable to make.

August 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelra

Definitely going to try this; sounds delicious!

August 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDelaney

Yummy - this just screams summer! Simple and delicious.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam@BingeNYC

Thank you, Elra, Delaney, and Sam! I'm amazed at how such simple ingredients can taste so good. Ain't summer the best??

August 31, 2009 | Registered CommenterAngela

I love that shape, just perfect for a delicious dish like this one. Your photos captured it beautifully!

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Thanks, Dana! I just happened to have the chiocciole in the pantry but I thought it was the perfect pasta to capture all the flavors of the sauce. The recipe also works well with orecchiette. Cheers!

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Hello from Russia)

October 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPolprav

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