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Fresh Tomato fresh tomato and basil  on pasta

Enough to toss with 1 pound of freshly cooked hot pasta. Try something you can twirl around a fork—spaghetti, linguini, angel hair. Or something chunky—penne, cavatelli, corkscrew pasta, or even tiny orzo, if you're so inclined.

Serves 6 to 8.

6 large, ripe tomatoes (or 4-5 cups cherry tomatoes), or about 3 pounds
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic (or other) vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesian

Chop the tomatoes and toss with all ingredients except the pasta. I like to do this about a half hour in advance to let the flavors blend a bit, but you can do it at the last minute, too. Cook the pasta according to package directions and then toss it all together. Serve still warm.

If you like, add any of the following to customize it to your tastes and appetite.

• Crushed red pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf type
• 1-2 cups of fresh mozzarella, fontina, Jarlsberg or other good cheese (Please, no processed cheeses! A dish this good deserves the best!)
• A can of drained, rinsed chickpeas (Fab for vegetarians)
• 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
• 2 cups hard salami or pepperoni, cut into cubes (Fab for die-hard must-have-meat eaters.)

Click here for five simple steps on how to grow healthier tomatoes.

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