This has been a great summer, here in Wisconsin,for a lot of farmers. We have had a relatively mild summer, with plenty of rain. It’s been years since I’ve seen corn and soy bean fields look as lush and green in the middle of August, and the corn is taller than I remember seeing it in ages. This has also been proven by the the shear abundance of produce at our local farmer’s market. Not only is there more of it, but everything is looking absolutely beautiful, from the large, sweet muskmelons, to the beautifully fragrant herbs, to the ripe, juicy peaches, it’s hard to beat the local produce this year!

It’s August and that means tomato season up here. We’ve harvested a few off of the couple of plants we put out this year, and have already received our first batch from my brother, with plenty more to be had at the farmer’s market. I can’t understand why anyone would even consider buying a grocery store tomato this time of year. Sorry, but there is no comparison between a grocery store tomato, that travelled hundreds of miles and a beautifully vine ripened local tomato.

When you’ve got such great local produce simple is often the way to go. Why mask produce, picked at the peak of ripeness, in lots of layers and heavy flavors. Let the food speak for itself, besides, in the heat of summer who wants to slave over a stove for hours. Keep it fast and simple, is often my motto this time of year, as opposed to my favored long braises that I enjoy in fall and winter.

This simple pasta meets all these requirements. It’s fast. It’s simple. And it takes full advantage of the ripest, most flavorful local and homegrown produce. This pasta, is by no means innovative, but sometimes falling back on the tried and true is the way to go, besides, who can resist that classic combination of tomato, basil and garlic!!!

Classic Tomato Basil Pasta
serves 4

1 pound pasta (linguine or fettuccine)
2 large tomatoes (the freshest, ripest ones you can get your hands on)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, hand torn into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water. Cook to al dente. Do not overcook! Meanwhile core and dice the tomatoes into 1/4-1/2″ cubes. In a large saute pan, add the olive oil, garlic and black pepper. Gently heat until the garlic just starts to cook. Once the pasta is cooked quickly drain and toss into the saute pan. Turn off the heat underneath the saute pan and add the tomatoes and basil. Toss until everything is well combined and the tomatoes and basil have been warmed through. Season with salt, tossing again to mix then divide among 4 plates. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and more freshly grated black pepper.