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A Fast, Fresh Pasta for Those Perfect Peak Tomatoes

Grating your tomatoes preserves their juicy acidity, which sings when swirled into hot garlic oil with handfuls of basil.

By Melissa Clark

August starts tomorrow, which means summer is at least halfway over and it’s high time to ask yourself: Have I eaten enough tomatoes? The correct answer, of course, is “most certainly not.” Ham El-Waylly is here to remedy this with his new recipe for grated tomato pasta (above).

This is exactly the sort of thing you cook when you’ve gone a little nuts at the market and brought home too many tomatoes, which may or may not be osmosing sweet juices onto your countertop (which is happening in my kitchen as I write this).

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Grated Tomato Pasta

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To make Ham’s recipe, you rub those tomatoes through the large holes of a box grater — the tomato skin will help protect your fingers — then mix the pulpy flesh with hot garlic oil and plenty of Parmesan. Add to cooked pasta, garnish with a handful of basil and dinner is done. (I particularly love the vivid way Ham describes pasta when it’s perfectly al dente: It’s done, he writes, when “the spaghetti has a very tiny dry core when cut in half.” Because even the best tomatoes can’t save a plate of woefully overcooked pasta.)

I’ve been making tomato salads almost every evening, and I have to admit I’ve grown weary of my olive-oil-salt-basil minimalism. Kay Chun’s Thai-style crunchy vegetable salad, with its dressing of fish sauce and lime, turns out to be the perfect antidote. Kay notes that you can use the tangy dressing on any combination of vegetables — it’s a clean-out-the-fridge salad that you can serve with bread or rice as a light meal, or alongside grilled or roasted meats or fish.

Peak summer is also peak slow cooker. Yes, I know, Crock-Pots bring up images of long-cooked winter meals, but they’re also ideal for making hearty dinners without heating up your house. One great example is Sarah DiGregorio’s chipotle-honey chicken tacos, in which the liquid slowly caramelizes in the cooker to create an intensely sticky, spicy sauce that’s worth planning ahead for.

Even simpler is a breakfast of overnight oats, which makes the hottest summer mornings easier to bear. Genevieve Ko’s recipe is supremely adaptable. Use whatever dried fruit and whichever milk you like, along with nuts for crunch and some seeds (chia, poppy, flax) for all those terrifically healthful properties that seeds have.

For dessert (not necessarily after breakfast, but hey, you do you), how about Dorie Greenspan’s Moka Dupont, a French icebox cake? Plain tea biscuits are dipped in espresso, tiramisù style, and layered with a thick chocolate buttercream. It’s fancier, richer and less sweet than American icebox cakes, though you’re permitted to skip the chocolate curls on top. This bittersweet marvel requires no embellishment.

Naturally, you’ll want to subscribe for these and all the other thousands of recipes at New York Times Cooking. If you need any technical help, send an email to [email protected]. And I’m at [email protected] if you want to say hi.

That’s all for now, I’ll see you on Wednesday.

Melissa Clark has been a columnist for the Food section since 2007. She reports on food trends, creates recipes and appears in cooking videos linked to her column, A Good Appetite. She has also written dozens of cookbooks. More about Melissa Clark

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