At the risk of being sued by Boy George (as opposed to a-wannabe-lawyer-who-liked-to-bathe-in-apricot-Jell-o), I decided to call this treatment of bucatini with cherry tomatoes “Karma Chameleon” for obvious reasons. The pure red cherry tomatoes with the vibrant “sungold” cherry tomatoes (from our deck-top garden) and fresh basil (right off the deck, too) made me think of the lyrics:
Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dream
Red, gold, and green, red, gold, and green.
Huh? What exactly does that mean?
This is from an era of many pop songs with memorable refrains but not much meaning: the 1980s, of course. The song was very catchy but did not really have the “deeper” meaning indicated by the references to “karma” and the changeability of the chameleon. There is good alliteration with “karma chameleon” together, while “red, gold, and green” make a nice vivid trio of colours. But does the song really say anything, other than just being a fun tune?
Like the song, bucatini is a fun pasta. However, it is not always easy to find bucatini in your grocer’s shelves, nestled among its more popular cousins, spaghetti and linguine (do not even try to find “buca-what?” on a small island like this one). Bucatini is like a drinking straw, with a hollow centre, a kind of tubular spaghetti, which provides, a nice al dente contrast to the warmed cherry tomatoes, and good textural counterpoint to the light olive oil-butter sauce.
My inspiration for combining bucatini with cherry tomatoes comes from a casual dinner a few years back, hosted by friend and fellow island blogger, Lynn, of Real Food from a Small Island. Lynn’s sauce was delicious yet somewhat different from this recipe.
I like the classic Italian base of garlic-olive-oil-black-pepper-and-Parmigiano-Reggiano. This base also can include parsley, bread crumbs, red chili flakes, anchovies, lemon juice, capers, or many other ingredients, depending on the region. time of day, and the chef. I posted about a combination that I did a few months back, Umami Linguine. A bit of butter, I find, in a sauce like this helps improve with the mouth feel and adds a bit of richness to the sauce without becoming heavy.
For the recipe…
This version can feature red cherry tomatoes exclusively, and one even could forgo the basil and still have a great dish. However, the yellow tomatoes add a mellow sweetness to their more tomato-y and slightly acidic red siblings, and the basil provides an herbal richness…and the colours then are like your dream, right?
Whether Boy George likes bucatini or cherry tomatoes may be as much of a mystery as the meaning of the lyrics, but the red-gold-and-green palette of the dish certainly makes for a visual feast – and a perfect, fast, light summer dinner.
“Karma Chameleon” Bucatini with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, kind of my own invention, based on classic Italian dishes
Serves one (but you can multiply just as many times as you like for bigger numbers, all the way to infinity, if you are Karma Chameleon)
- 2 ounces, or more (or less) bucatini
- 1 ounce olive oil
1 ounce butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced finely
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ cup of red and yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 ounce or more of Parmigiano Reggiano
- Black pepper, freshly ground to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
1. Boil water for pasta.
2. Add a tablespoon or so of salt when boiling rapidly.
3. Place linguine in water and follow directions for cooking time – mine called for seven minutes – until al dente (slightly less cooked is better).
4. While pasta is boiling, sauté the garlic in olive oil and butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat, watching to prevent burning or excessive browning.
5. When garlic has become golden, add tomatoes and chili flakes to pan.
6. Grind black pepper over the pan, to taste.
7. Take pasta from pot with tongs, so that there is some pasta-water to help loosen the sauce and add the basil, just to wilt.
8. Add about one-half ounce of Parmigiano to sauce (and additional pasta-water, if needed).
9. Plate the pasta, adding the remaining Parmigiano.
10. Add more black pepper and salt, if desired.