Linguine with Brie and Tomatoes

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

All year long I look forward to August. You might think it's because it's vacation time, or because the extreme heat of July has broken and the nights are cooler. What I'm really looking forward to is tomato season. While I'm thrilled to eat asparagus in May and strawberries in June, nothing sets my culinary heart racing like a juicy tomato. It takes me back to my childhood, when my dad would make the two of us plain tomato sandwiches on white bread with lots of salt and pepper and maybe, if he was feeling sophisticated, a bit of mayonnaise. We'd sit on the back porch to eat them because there was so much juice dripping from them. These days, it's bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with the occasional bit of fancy cheese on whole grain bread with lots of seeds, but it really doesn't compare to those simple sandwiches of my childhood.
 
My husband doesn't have the same love of tomatoes that I do, although he does enjoy his BLT. Offer him pasta with the choice of a tomato sauce or a cream sauce and he'll take the cream every time. However, the dish he looks forward to all year is this linguine with brie and tomatoes. It has become my signature dish of August. My kids love it, as do their friends. My friends love it, and everyone knows if they come to my place for a meal in August, chances are they are going to be treated to this pasta.
 
It's a very forgiving recipe. You make it earlier in the day, letting the ingredients macerate while you do other things with your summer afternoon, and then when you are ready to eat, you put on the water for pasta, and then put the cooked pasta on top of the sauce, stir it up, and eat it. The original recipe is from "The Silver Palate Cookbook" by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins, and yes, I have been making for as many years as that cookbook has existed. I haven't actually looked at the recipe for many years. I now do it by eye, and I know I have changed it along the way. I generally use much less olive oil, and probably less garlic, although my husband loves it with lots of garlic. You can always add more tomatoes, if you like. The juiciness of the tomatoes makes a difference, so once you have let the sauce to macerate for awhile, give it a stir. If it seems too dry to make a sauce, add a bit more olive oil.
 
I made this for the first time this season last night for dinner. The afternoon was extremely cool, so the brie didn't melt into the tomatoes and olive oil the way it usually does, but we didn't care, it was still delicious. A less than stellar brie is fine for this recipe, but fresh vine-ripened tomatoes are essential. Canned tomatoes just don't work.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 2 1/2 hours

Yield: 4 servings

Linguine with Brie and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 large tomatoes, or 4 smaller tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb brie, rind removed and ripped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup basil, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 - 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 - 3 tsp salt
  • Linguine for 4
Cooking directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes, the pieces of brie, the basil, olive oil, garlic and at least two teaspoons of salt. Mix well, cover, and set aside on the counter for at least two hours.
  2. In a large pot, heat water until boiling. Add linguine and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato sauce. Toss well, making sure all of the pasta is coated with sauce. Serve immediately,

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