This pasta with mascarpone and blistered tomatoes comes together quickly and easily, for a perfect weeknight meal.
Sometimes dishes show up on our dinner table for the sole purpose of using up stuff in my fridge. In this case, I had a part carton of mascarpone in desperate need of a destination. Mascarpone is not cheap and I wasn't going to be wasting it. I also had some arugula. And a few tomatoes. So dinner was decided and it was delicious!
This is a quick and easy pasta dish that comes together in about the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. The tomatoes are quickly "blistered" by broiling in the oven. This only takes a few minutes. Angelhair pasta boils up in about 5 minutes, so it's quick, too. It all comes together in a hot skillet with the mascarpone and arugula for a quick toss to coat the pasta.
Don't worry if you don't happen to have some leftover mascarpone to use up. I've included a quick and easy substitute, that uses cream cheese, cream and sour cream. You'll find it at the bottom of the recipe. As for the tomatoes, I happened to have roma tomatoes, but any tomato will do, including a carton of cherry tomatoes (would be pretty with red and yellow cherry tomatoes!)
The secret to this dish is salt and pepper. You need to season this dish well to really round out the flavours!
My Three Top Tips for Delicious Pasta Dishes
My pasta dish cooking technique has evolved over the years, to include a couple of techniques that I think produce the most satisfying pasta dishes ...
1. Be sure to generously salt your pasta cooking water, to bring lots of flavour to your finished dish. It's adequately salted when it "tastes like the ocean".
2. Rather than draining pasta in the sink, I scoop the cooked pasta right out of the boiling water with a spider strainer (or tongs, for long pasta) and put it directly into the hot sauce. Adding hot pasta to the sauce helps the pasta to absorb the flavours of the sauce more easily. It also allows for having the pasta-cooking water handy, in case you need to add some to thin your pasta sauce. Be sure to still drain the pasta well in the spoon before adding to the pasta, to avoid watering down your sauce.
3. I always cook the pasta with the sauce in a hot skillet (or saucepan) for several minutes before serving. I've found that the perfect pasta dish needs to come together in a hot pan first, not in the serving bowl.
Simply add the hot pasta to the hot sauce and cook, stirring, for just a couple of minutes. Take the time to taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, as needed, as well. If you sauce thickens or tightens up during this last short cooking, add a splash of your pasta cooking water to loosen it up.
To make sure I don't dirty another pan, I always start my sauce in a large enough skillet or pot so that it will comfortably hold my cooked pasta as well, when it is cooked and ready to be added to the pot.
Bonus Tip! For tomato-heavy sauces, stirring a small pat of butter into the tomato sauce at the end of cooking tempers the acidity in the sauce and rounds out the flavours.
Pasta with Mascarpone and Blistered Tomatoes
- 3 servings angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta
- 4 roma tomatoes, (or 3 regular tomatoes, or a carton of cherry tomatoes, if you like).
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp vodka, optional
- 1/2 cup mascarpone*, see substitution below
- 2 handfuls baby arugula
- Shaved Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven broiler with a rack in the upper part of the oven. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds and discard. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet, skin side up, and place under the broiler. Allow tomatoes to cook until skin is blistered and starting to char.
- Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water for pasta.
- Once tomatoes are charred, allow to cool slightly, then coarsely chop. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until tender and fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and vodka, if using. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, while you put the pasta on to cook. (If using angelhair pasta, it will take only a few minutes to cook!).
- Once pasta is cooked, increase heat on skillet to medium. Add mascarpone, arugula and a good sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove pasta straight from boiling water to skillet with tongs. Toss to combine, adding a splash of pasta water if needed, to loosen. Remove from heat and stir in some shavings of Parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with additional shaved Parmesan.
- *Substitute for the mascarpone in this recipe: 4 oz. (1/2 cucream cheese blended with 2 Tbsp. heavy cream and 1 Tbsp. sour cream.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.