13 Feb2013


Almost as comforting as adobo, a plateful of spaghetti with some sort of tomato sauce is one of my absolute favorite dishes. I have a version of it perhaps once a week… While it is most typically a version done with some pancetta, bacon or ground meat, I like the non-meat versions as well.


Two weekends ago, I managed to secure three different types of cherry or small tomatoes from deliveries and weekend shopping forays at the markets, and decided to whip up a pasta dish that took just a few minutes to cook… Boil some water in your pasta pot and salt it heavily, then add your pasta…


Into a wide pan I added generous amounts of olive oil, three cloves of garlic (whole, to be fished out before serving) and let the garlic flavor the oil. Next, I added several handfuls of different tomatoes, with some having been sliced in two, others left whole. Season with salt and pepper. Saute this over high heat until the tomatoes blister a bit and soften, say 2-3 minutes. Some of their juices will meld with the oil, and it should thicken a bit. Lower the heat to medium. Fish out the garlic if you like.


As soon as your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it directly to the pan with the tomatoes. You may wish to add a bit of pasta water to keep this all moist. Mix well, add a touch more of extra virgin olive oil if necessary and do a final seasoning of salt and pepper to taste. Take this off the heat and add some bite-sized cubes of fresh mozzarella. Transfer to your serving platter. Sprinkle with chopped or torn fresh basil leaves. Eat. If you want more cheese, add some grated parmesan. Comfort in a bowl.


The pasta would have been fine on its own, but we also added some pan-fried chicken finished off with lemon and some flat-leaf parsley.


And a simple green salad to round the meal off. The pasta was really, really nice. The different consistencies and texture of the tomatoes made for surprising mouthfuls of tomato flavor explosions. Delicious.



  1. ami says:

    The pasta is a perfect non-meat option for Lent which starts today.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 8:27 am


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  3. bearhug0127 says:

    Delicious! Must try this.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 8:30 am

  4. Betchay says:

    Simple cooking with the freshest and simplest ingredients….the best! The 1st photo is so festive and very Italian(flag colors)!

    Feb 13, 2013 | 8:34 am

  5. Angie says:

    perfect timing MM!! I bought potted basil leaves over the weekend and still thinking what to do with it. Now I know! Thank you very much! :)

    Feb 13, 2013 | 8:36 am

  6. PITS, MANILA says:

    this is perfect after the adobo-days. i make garlic-chips often and use the garlic-infused oil for pasta. the photo above looks so refreshing — healthy-food as well!

    Feb 13, 2013 | 8:55 am

  7. Natie says:

    yummy pasta! But once or twice a year, my mind wanders to the pinoy sweet spaghetti, with red hotdog..hehe. I end up making a small plate, the only difference is I make my pasta al dente…

    Feb 13, 2013 | 9:22 am

  8. Didi says:

    Looks really good and simple to do! :)

    Have been dreaming of pasta for the past few days… Will try this on my Cooking Quest and will credit you!!

    Feb 13, 2013 | 9:53 am

  9. Marketman says:

    Natie, I have to admit, I do occasionally sneak in a pinoy spaghetti every once in a while, especially at office birthday parties… I know, in some senses it should be revolting, but its a childhood taste thing I think… :)

    Feb 13, 2013 | 10:03 am

  10. Cecille says:

    Where can I get good, fresh mozzarella cheese? The ones in the supermarket are either grated or those meant for pizza topping.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 10:42 am

  11. Marketman says:

    I get buffalo mozzarella either in large balls or mini balls from S&L Fine Foods. They have burrata as well, flown in from Italy, but it runs out of stock fast. Places like S&R also have “fresher” mini mozzarella balls in water in their chillers. They may not be exactly the definition of FRESH, as they are likely pasteurized, but they work very well with recipes such as this pasta. Fresh is ideal as it starts to melt in the hot pasta almost instantly, and it gets nice and gooey when you mix this all up. I do not use grated or pizza topping mozzarella.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 10:46 am

  12. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I enjoy pasta dishes with fresh tomatoes though I’m not opposed to making institutional (jarred sauce) spaghetti or the odd run to Jollibee or get together for Pinoy Pasta. I don’t mind the hot dogs either, but them unnaturally red Filipino hot dogs scare me.

    When I make a pomadoro, I usually make a spaghetti pizza the next day for breakfast. I take the combined pasta and sauce, crack an egg and toss in grated hard cheese for a binder. Pour the mixture in an oiled pan and cook like a Spanish tortilla. Let it rest and make some coffee. Slice into wedges and enjoy.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 11:13 am

  13. millet says:

    woohoo, those tomatoes look very good, especially those grape-colored ones at the bottom. i can almost taste the flavorburst!

    Feb 13, 2013 | 12:04 pm

  14. ring2 says:

    Love this way making spaghetti for a quick and simple meal… my memory of childhood spaghetti goes with the “Papa Picolino” brand during the ’70’s. It comes in a box and really tasted so great with loads of ‘meatballs sauce’ and when my Nanay makes it, it’s almost like a feast. Yummy, I am craving for it now!!!

    Feb 13, 2013 | 1:55 pm

  15. Maki says:

    Finally, a post from my idol. Sir MM, to be honest with you I mostly eat pinoy style spaghetti, the sweetness and the deep (red or orange) color are so nostalgic, I remember my mom whenever I think of spaghetti.

    Looking at your pictures though makes me want to try cooking that this weekend! haha (bisan dili kabalo magluto).

    Question sir MM. when you say salt heavily, how many tablespoon or teaspoon? I remember cooking carbonara when I heard youtube say ‘generous amount’, it did not turn out well. :D

    Feb 13, 2013 | 2:45 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Maki, to a large pot of water for cooking a pound or two of pasta, add say a tablespoon or just less of kosher salt or coarse sea salt. DO NOT use iodized table salt. The water should be salty, so the pasta is a little salty before you even sauce it. As for the sauce, salt to taste… in other words, taste what you are cooking and adjust accordingly… it depends on the acidity or sweetness of the tomatoes and other ingredients. Millet, the dark burgundy tomatoes at the bottom were particularly good, from Gejo of Malipayon Farms, though he may get those from a neighbor of his…

    Feb 13, 2013 | 3:09 pm

  17. jannah says:

    i want :)

    Feb 13, 2013 | 3:37 pm

  18. Monique says:

    Pasta is an emotion i constantly feel…. haaaaay.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 6:21 pm

  19. MrsKookie says:

    I always cook for Valentines and this looks like my recipe for tomorrow! :)

    Feb 13, 2013 | 6:31 pm

  20. Bambini says:

    MF once did a pasta cooking demo here and she added about a cup of rock salt to the water she was boiling for pasta. she said that the water should taste like sea water.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 6:46 pm

  21. MlleD says:

    Perfect for Ash Wednesday. Start the day with a full meal of this and fast the rest of the day. . .

    Feb 13, 2013 | 7:59 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    bambini, I decided to look it up out of curiosity… the fine cooking website, suggests 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt for a LARGE pot of boiling water… Lorenza De Medici, in her wonderful book, “Lorenza’s Pasta” suggests that for a large pot of water, say 5 liters good for cooking up to 1-2 pounds of pasta, one should add 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Mario Batali writes that for 6 quarts water, a little more than 5 liters, he suggests 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Nate Appleman, in his book, “A16” states “fill a large pot with water and add 1 generous tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon (3.6 liters) of water”. In David Joachim’s book “Food Tips and Cooking Tricks” he suggest a ratio of 1 teaspoon per quart of water, which is the equivalent of 2 tablespoons per 6 quarts of water, same as Chef Batali… Marcella Hazan suggests 1.5 tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta, the only one who gives instructions for weight of salt by weight of pasta, rather than volume of water. Biba Caggiano, whose television series on Italian cooking I watched when I first contemplated retiring from full time work, suggests 1 tablespoon of coarse salt for a large pot of water. The editors of Cook’s Illustrated in their book “The Best Italian Classics” suggests 1 tablespoon of salt per 4 quarts of water for 1 pound of pasta. Finally, I pulled some packages of dried pasta from our pantry and here is the gist… On Barilla spaghettini, they suggest 7 grams salt per liter of water. That is roughly 1 tablespoon salt per 3 liters or just under a gallon. On a package of San Remo pasta, it suggests, 1-2 teaspoons salt for every 5 liters of water, the least salty of all the quoted suggestions above. :) And just to get technical, and while I am on the subject and curious, I looked up the salinity of sea water… it is roughly 3-3.2% salt, so I figure that for a liter of water, that would be roughly 1.2 tablespoons of salt, roughly 3-4x the most commonly suggested amounts of salt compared with the cooking instructions above. So Bambini, if Margarita literally wanted the water to taste like the sea, then she would have been adding 4-5 tablespoons of coarse salt per gallon of water. Personally, I find we are happy with the 1-2 tablespoon level per 6 liters of water (I just measured our pasta pot), though we tend to go with the lower figure most of the time. And I find that MOST people use far less salt than that, hence my counsel to salt “generously”… :)

    As for using sea water for cooking, the only example I know of in this regard is the practice of some New Englanders who literally boil a pot filled with sea water to boil their lobsters. The salty water helps to flavor the lobster meat.

    Feb 13, 2013 | 9:46 pm

  23. Laine says:

    Yummy! Definitely one of my carb comfort food.

    Feb 14, 2013 | 4:14 am

  24. tercer says:

    Long ago when I was still living in Queens, my Italian-American friends introduced me to this pasta dish that primarily featured fresh vegetables. It was called pasta primavera. Similar to what you have here MM – just add a little more vegetables like bell peppers cut in long strips and a few pieces of broccolli or cauliflower.

    Feb 14, 2013 | 4:50 am

  25. betty q. says:

    A quick and easy or should I say when I am lazy to sauté things ESP. during summer, I just use garlicky oven roasted tomatoes done MM’s way….We can’t get enough of it! To add creaminess to our pasta, I add a touch of guacamole and a looooot of avocado chunks. Close to where we are, we are fortunate to have a dairy farm and cheese factory that makes fresh cheese curds every Tuesday…..sooooo good!

    This is really easy and a no brainier….. La Emp and Mrs. P…it will become an addition to your repertoire. It also covers the basic food groups!

    Speaking of tomatoes, Gejo and Nacho, I am going to plant a variety called Indigo Rose…it claims to be the darkest bluish tomato. I think it is more of a saladette type than a cherry tomato….rich in anti oxidants. When you slice it, the flesh or the meat is reddish but the skin is dark blue like a blueberry. Another that will be in my garden this year is a green cherry tomato called Sungreen? It must be the brother of Sungold!

    I will have a very colourful plate of spaghetti in the summer with all the different coloured cherry tomatoes totalling 6 colors now and I will oven roast them all! yes, Mrs. P…I will share them all with you guys!

    Feb 14, 2013 | 6:03 am

  26. Barang says:

    how about using our very own fresh mozzarella – that is kesong puti?!!

    Feb 14, 2013 | 6:47 am

  27. May says:

    yumyum,MM! I discovered Marcella Hazan’s tomato, onion and butter sauce last year. I liked it so much it became my new comfort food. I just use canned tomatoes though, find that the tomato-ness (????) is more controlled that way.

    Feb 14, 2013 | 7:16 am

  28. Marketman says:

    Barang, our local kesong puti tends to be incredibly salty, so I wouldn’t think to replace a creamy, mild almost sweet mozzarella with it. However, I have used kesong puti in other western style dishes, like a red rice salad with little cubes of kesong puti and chopped vegetables. I think of kesong puti as being more like feta cheese, though the latter is far firmer, and would use it in things that feta is called for… and sparingly at that.

    Feb 14, 2013 | 7:19 am

  29. betty q. says:

    May…in the winter, it is canned Italian plum tomatoes for me. However, in the summer where nothing can compare to vine ripened tomatoes that are sun kissed to perfection, I wouldn’t think of using anything else when I make Mrs. Hazan’s tomato sauce….an array of colors…quickly blanched in hot boiling water to remove the skin, you will put your canned tomatoes at the back of the pantry.

    If anyone has a bumper crop of tomatoes in the summer, I would urge you to take the time of skinning your vine ripened tomatoes….then make a really big pot, the biggest pot you have, of Mrs. hazan’s tomato sauce, cool it down and freeze in containers for the winter. Even my youngest son can now make our household favorite…chorizo or smoked sausage penne pasta with roasted peppers and roasted chicken or mussels…very simple yet satisfying!

    Feb 14, 2013 | 8:30 am

  30. pixienixie says:

    At first glance I thought some of those red things were sliced chorizos! The dish looks divine; however, the addition of the chicken dish is what made me drool! :)

    Feb 14, 2013 | 9:09 am

  31. Paris4444 says:


    Feb 14, 2013 | 9:50 am

  32. Maki says:

    Hey, Thanks sir MM, I used iodized salt, so I guess that’s the culprit… thanks again sir. :D

    Feb 14, 2013 | 1:47 pm

  33. MrsKookie says:

    This was so simple but so good. Husby very happy as I included this in our Valentines menu to complement the steak I made. Thanks, MM! :)

    Feb 15, 2013 | 5:01 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    Mrs. Kookie, so glad it worked for you… I hope the mozzarella started to melt and get all gooey… that’s the best. :)

    Feb 15, 2013 | 5:23 pm

  35. Shalum says:

    Okay… this post just got me making some of my own. With rocket arugula instead of basil leaves, some dried basil for flavor, chicken, fresh tomatoes. Pwede na to! :) Thanks! Have a good lunch!

    Feb 18, 2013 | 12:47 pm


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