Pomodoro is the perfect sauce for summer, highlighting the season’s bounty of ripe tomatoes and herbs. When paired with capellini, the dish comes together in a matter of minutes, keeping your kitchen from turning into a Turkish steambath. As much as I love this simple pasta, there’s only so many times you can eat the basic combo before it starts to get old. That’s why I like mixing it up with variations such as this one.
Most of you are probably familiar with green shiso as the leaf that’s used to garnish plates of sushi. It’s a member of the Perilla genus, which is in the same family as mint and basil. While shiso has a unique flavor that’s tough to describe, it’s like a cross between mint and basil, along with more floral notes. It’s available in Japanese grocery stores, but if you don’t have one near you, the seeds are available online and it grows like a weed in most climates.
The other newcomer to this classic pasta is one you may not have heard about. Shio kombu, which literally means “salted kelp,” is exactly what it sounds like — kelp that’s been shredded and dried with salt. With a meaty flavor and an insane concentration of umami, a few strands of shio kombu would make boot leather taste good. Added to the pasta it works in tandem with the amino acids in the tomatoes, producing a sweet and mind-blowingly savory sauce that tastes like you’ve put a lot more work into it than the few minutes it takes to make. Shio kombu should be available at any Japanese grocery store, but you can also get it online here, here and here.
Because capellini is so thin, the difference between crunchy and mushy is a matter of seconds, which is why I prefer to undercook it. That way you can finish it off in the sauce, using reserved pasta-cooking liquid to keep the noodles from clumping.
Capellini Pomodoro With Shiso
- 5.6 ounces (160 grams) capellini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- .25 ounces (7 grams) garlic, minced
- 10.6 ounces (300 grams) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- .35 ounces (10 grams) shio kombu
- .35 ounces (10 grams) green shiso, julienned
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Heat the pan over medium high heat, and then add the olive oil and garlic. Fry the garlic until fragrant. Then, add the cherry tomatoes, and let them brown on one side.
- Add the shio kombu to the sauce and toss until the tomatoes have started to shrivel.
- Start boiling the pasta. It should take anywhere from a minute to a minute and a half.
- Drain the pasta just before it's fully cooked, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta and shiso with the pomodoro, adding pasta water as needed to keep the noodles from sticking together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.