grandma's tomato cream pasta

My grandmother- my dad's mother- is a spitfire of a woman. She has lived an incredibly full life, raising five children and doting on many grandchildren; countless hours spent in worship and community service. My grandfather passed away several years ago, after over 50 years of marriage, and rather than withdrawing from life, my grandmother mourned while engaging in every social opportunity presented to her. I used to joke with my friends that Marge has a better social life than I do- this is probably still true.

I once asked her how she did it, after Grandpa passed- how she faced continuing on in a positive way. I think it was four or five years ago, but I still remember exactly how she replied.

"I said yes, anytime anyone asked me to do something. Even when I didn't want to, even if all I wanted to do was stay home and cry, I said yes. You should always say yes when someone invites you to do something, kid. That's how you'll get through everything."

The wisdom of that advice sticks with me still, and I do my best to live by her suggestion. My grandmother is in the December of her life; facing severe cancer, she has chosen not to go through chemotherapy, instead she is being treated palliatively. Knowing that our time together is finite makes it all the more precious.

I can't think of a better way to honor Grandma than by sharing one of her best and favorite recipes- tomato cream pasta with fresh basil. It's one of the simplest and most delicious recipes you will ever make. With just a few ingredients, it's important that everything be of the highest quality, otherwise it will be flat. 

Make this today- you probably already have all of the ingredients. 

Here's how Grandma did it:

While you get water boiling for the pasta, heat 14 ounces of canned diced tomatoes over medium heat.

Use the best canned tomatoes you can find.

Use the best canned tomatoes you can find.

While the tomatoes are cooking, chop up 1/2 c of fresh basil and grate 2/3 c fresh Parmesan. The good stuff. 

For recipes where the parm is meant to incorporate into the sauce, I like to use my microplane instead of a grater. The cheese turns into ethereal little wisps that instantly meld with the hot liquid.

For recipes where the parm is meant to incorporate into the sauce, I like to use my microplane instead of a grater. The cheese turns into ethereal little wisps that instantly meld with the hot liquid.

Once your tomatoes have cooked for about five minutes, turn the heat to low and add the basil and the cream. Stir to incorporate.

By now, your water should be boiling and your pasta cooking. Drain the pasta.

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Stir the shredded parm into the sauce, turn off the heat. Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. 

Serve with more grated parm.

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Recipe:

1# good, semolina flour linguine (it has to be linguine. don't mess with this.)

1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, the best you can find

1/2 c chopped fresh basil

1/2 c grated fresh parm

3/4 c heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 

Cook the tomatoes in a medium saute pan over medium high heat while you are chopping the basil and grating the parmesan.

Cook the pasta to al dente, drain, and set aside.

Turn the tomatoes to low heat and stir in the cream and basil. Turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan.

Add the pasta to the sauce, toss to coat.

Serve with more grated parm on top.

 

Meal ideas:

tomato basil pasta & caesar salad & fresh country bread & panna cotta