Penne with Marinated Tomatoes, Basil and Mascarpone

I've been blogging for almost a year now, and for some reason, I've never posted a recipe of something I cooked myself. Ok, I do know the reason why. I like cooking and consider myself decent at it, but I'm certainly no wunderkind in the kitchen. I forget crucial steps, mess up measurements, and often add chunks of butter at the last minute because my "healthy" approach has left the dish tasting like kitchen counter.

So when I make something that is not only good, but revelatory, it means I have one damn good, idiot-proof recipe. I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart Living, and it is hands down one of the tastiest things I've ever made. It's best to make in late summer, when you can get colorful and super-ripe heirloom tomatoes from a local market, but even now, in the dead of winter, it leaves me with a glorious summery feeling. Bon Appetit!

Serves 4


* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
* 1 bunch asparagus, cut into penne-size pieces, spears removed
* 3/4 to 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
* 3/4 cup fresh basil
* Sea salt to taste
* 1 pound dried penne (rigatoni works too)
* 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Cook oil, garlic, and red-pepper flakes in a small skillet over low heat. After 3 minutes, add chopped asparagus and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
2. Place tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in asparagus-garlic mixture. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours, tossing occasionally.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water, and drain. Meanwhile, mix mascarpone and pepper in a small bowl. Add pasta to asparagus mixture. Stir in remaining basil, and serve with peppered mascarpone on the side or mixed in.


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