The greatest five-minute tomato pasta on earth

Published July 31, 2010 12:20AM (EDT)

Serves 2-4, depending on how serious you are about tomatoes


  • 2 ½ pounds of the ripest tomatoes you can find (a mix of varieties is really nice)
  • 2 loose handfuls of tender young arugula or flavorful greens of your choice (about 2 cups, but whatever)
  • ¼ cup shaved red onion or shallot, as thin as you can cut it
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste (optional)
  • Parmigiano cheese, to taste (optional)


  1. Boil a gallon of water in a large pot, and make it taste salty (not unpleasantly salty, but distinctly salty). When the water comes to a full boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. While the water is heating, cut half of the tomatoes into roughly ½-inch chunks and put in a large salad bowl. Coarsely chop the rest, and don't forget to tip the cutting board to get all the juice in the bowl too.
  3. Season the tomatoes generously with salt and pepper, and pour in a few glugs of olive oil. Taste them. Hey, save some for the pasta! If they're sweet and delicious but could use a little tartness, give them a little lick of vinegar.
  4. Lay arugula and then onion or shallots on top of the tomatoes, spreading out the onions so they're as close to lying in one layer as possible. Now wait for your pasta to finish cooking. You can't steal any more tastes of the tomato, because the layering is important -- the heat from the pasta that you'll dump on top will wilt the greens and just barely cook the onions, mellowing them out. Right about now is when I start really failing at the art of anticipation and scream obscenities at the pasta to finish cooking.
  5. When the pasta is finally done (You son of a #@&$!), drain it well in a colander and immediately dump it in the bowl, spreading it out so it covers the vegetables evenly. Bite your lip and let it sit undisturbed for two whole minutes and try to distract yourself by shaving Parmigiano on top. Mix it together well -- really stir it up to stretch the melting cheese and coat the pasta in juice and oil. Give it a taste, adjust with salt, pepper, vinegar or olive oil if you'd like more richness, and serve immediately.

By Francis Lam

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

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