Not Default Pasta with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Alpeppo Pepper

Pasta with Charred Cherry Tomatoes

Pasta with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Alpeppo Pepper.

That’s so me, huh? It’s just the kind “default pasta” I would toss together with no recipe in a wave a manic passion. That’s what default pasta is, right? But I am sorry to say this terrific recipe is not mine and it’s not even default pasta. Or is it?

You see it’s Aida Mollenkamp’s Bumper Crop Pasta with Charred Cherry Tomatoes recipe. I first saw it on TasteSpotting, yesterday. I instantly connected with the photo and clicked right over there. I was excited, so I skimmed straight down to the recipe. I saw her charring technique and I was sold. I have been charring cherry tomatoes for years. I love the slight bitter quality that comes with properly charred food. In this case it really highlights the “sweet” in cherry tomatoes. The pungency in char also works well with wines that have a tannic edge. Making char a win/win. But Aida brought something new and unexpected to this recipe. Alpeppo pepper and pomegranate molasses.

Alpeppo pepper is a ground sort of Turkish chili powder. It’s spicy, but not blazing hot. It also has the exact sort of sour pungency you find in the flecks of black charred tomato in this preparation.

I also admire how fragrant each step in this recipe is. When it’s default pasta night at my house I may not have a lot of time to cook. But I still want to enjoy the process– no matter how quick and easy that process is. This recipe has thin shards of garlic quickly browned in oil. The fragrance alone says home cooking to me. Add in the sharp pungency of alpeppo and you can smell the love before it hits the plate. Pasta is love. You knew that right?

pasta ingredientsSo you see this recipe may not be mine, but I swear I would have made this the exact same way. So it was starting to feel more and more like default pasta to me. Which made me think, does Aida follow my default pasta rules (review them here)? Hmmm. So I decided to go back and read the whole post and check out her about page. I even googled her…

Guess what. She’s on the Food Network. I had no idea. Of course I don’t watch the Food Network. Call it jealousy or call it advocacy. But I am Anti-Food Network Star. Oh well, my loss. At least I didn’t have this information going in. I probably would have dismissed this recipe and kept looking. Which wouldn’t have been merely a loss– it would have been a tragedy.

But you knew that, right?

Pasta with Charred Cherry Tomatoes with Alpeppo Pepper

serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • Charred Cherry Tomato Pasta with Alpeppo8 oz spaghetti, tagliarini, or perciatelli pasta
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 4 clv garlic, sliced paper thin
  • 1 t ground aleppo pepper
  • 1 t fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb whole cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 T pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 c toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil or Italian parsley leaves, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a heavy-bottomed large skillet over high heat until wisps of smoke come off the pan. Add garlic, Aleppo pepper, and thyme, and cook for a few seconds until just fragrant. Add tomatoes, stir to coat in oil, then cook, swirling occasionally, until tomatoes charred and about to burst, about 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat, add drained pasta, pomegranate molasses, 1/4 cup of the pasta water, stir to coat, taste, and add salt or sugar as desired. Add remaining pasta water, as needed, so that the sauce delicately coats each strand of pasta.

Stir in remaining 1 tbsp of the oil, walnuts, and basil or parsley and toss to coat the pasta. Taste, add more salt and Aleppo pepper as desired and serve immediately.



Greg Henry