Easy, flavorful summer dinner idea

 I don’t know about you, but, I’m hot. And not in a good way. It’s sticky, humid and generally gross here on the east coast. I am currently hiding up in my air conditioned office – “working.” At some point, I know I’m going to have to switch gears and think about dinner. If I don’t, I risk my daughter telling on me – and I don’t want a bad reputation.

As I think about options requiring the least amount of heat, I am reminded of one of my favorite summer dinners: Summer Garden Pasta by Ina Garten. This dish is the epitome of summer flavors. It is bursting with sweet tomatoes, delicious basil and flavorful garlic. The angel hair pasta soaks up all the juices and is a perfect, light accompaniment to the tomatoes.


Before you say it, I know – Ina, again??!! Just bear with me – it’s awesome, I promise. The only heat required for this one is the boiling water for the pasta.

This is one of those recipes where quality of ingredients are key. There are so few ingredients, each one plays an integral part in the flavor of the overall dish. Use the freshest ingredients possible – as tomato season approaches, visit a farm stand and get them fresh from the source. Fresh basil and garlic are a must. Also, this recipe makes a TON! You can easily halve the recipe, or, make the whole thing and eat the leftovers cold out of the Tupperware (not that I’ve ever done this).

 Here’s what you’ll need:


4 pints cherry tomatoes, 6 cloves garlic, 18 basil leaves, olive oil, 1 pound angel hair pasta, 1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper (if you like a little heat).

Mince the garlic, chop the basil and cut cherry tomatoes in half and combine with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if using) in a large bowl (you’ll need the space for the pasta later). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least four hours.


When you are ready to eat, boil a big pot of salted, oiled water and cook your angel hair pasta according to the package. Make sure your pot is big enough so your pasta has room to move, to keep it from sticking together. Stir it frequently.

Before you pour all the pasta water down the drain, reserve a little, just in case you need it to loosen the pasta when you mix it with the tomatoes. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix the pasta and parmesan cheese with the tomatoes and toss well. Serve in large pasta bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese and basil.

See, wasn’t that easy? Stay cool, my friends.


Summer Garden Pasta
Serves 6
A simple dinner, filled with the flavors of summer.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr 25 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr 25 min
  1. 4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  2. Good olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic (6 cloves)
  4. 18 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
  5. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1 pound angel hair pasta
  9. 1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
  1. Combine the cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.
  2. Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of oiled, salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well. Serve in big bowls with extra cheese on each serving.
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