Sous Vide Cherry Tomato Butter Basil Pasta


Carolyn Jung is a James Beard Award-winning Bay Area food journalist, whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Coastal Living, Via magazine, Food Arts, Edible Silicon Valley, Wine Spectator and other publications. She is the fo ...

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The late-great cookbook writer Marcella Hazan, credited with bringing the authentic traditions of Italian cooking to America, was beloved for many of her recipes. Chief among them was a very simple pasta sauce she often made for her family that grew to be loved the world over. It was just canned, peeled tomatoes cooked gently with an onion, a pinch of sugar and a generous amount of butter. Tossed with pasta, it is true comfort in a bowl. This is a riff on that classic recipe. Instead of canned tomatoes, I use summer’s bounty of cherry tomatoes in yellow, red and orange hues. Because they’re so tender to begin with, I don’t bother peeling them, either. And because they’re already at their peak of sweetness, I don’t add any sugar. Cooking the makings for this sauce in a precision cooker means you don’t have to stand over the stovetop, stirring frequently to make sure nothing sticks or burns. When the tomatoes are tender, I mash half of them to create a sauce that the pasta continues to cook in, absorbing that wonderful flavor. I stir in the remaining tomatoes, leaving them whole, so that they burst with juice in every mouthful. The onion is there just to flavor the tomato sauce, not to serve. Hazan has you discard it. But I think it’s still plenty flavorful enough to use the next day, if you like, diced into scrambled eggs or sautéed with spinach or kale. This pasta dish puts the spotlight right where it belongs – on wondrous summer tomatoes, whose natural sweetness gets concentrated in the cooking and accentuated even more by the butter. The flavor is reminiscent of Margherita pizza. It’s a perfect dish for Meatless Mondays. Or for that matter, any day of the week.
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Ingredients for 4

  • 1 ¾ pounds (794 grams) cherry tomatoes of various colors and shapes

  • ½ medium-sized yellow onion, peeled

  • 1 stick of cold butter, cut into tablespoons

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 pound (454 grams) penne or rotini

  • Handful of fresh basil leaves

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste


  • Step 1

    Place the Anova in a large pot of water and set to 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Step 2

    Vacuum seal in a bag the tomatoes, onion and butter.

  • Step 3

    When the pot of water has reached the optimum temperature, add the bag of tomatoes. Allow to cook for 1 hour.

    • Finishing Steps -- Stovetop

    • Step 0

      About 15 minutes before the tomatoes are done, bring to a boil a large pot of salted water on the stovetop. Add pasta, and stir. Cook just until it reaches al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta, and set aside.

    • Step 1

      Remove the bag of tomatoes from the water bath. Remove onion half; discard or save for another use.

    • Step 2

      Add about half of the bag of tomatoes to a large pot on the stovetop. Using a potato masher, smash the tomatoes until they are chunky and give off their juices. On medium heat, add the pasta to the pot, stirring to combine. Allow to cook for a few minutes until pasta is al dente. If the pasta seems too dry, add in a little of the reserved cooking water. Season with salt and pepper.

    • Step 3

      Pour the remaining tomatoes from the bag into the pot of pasta, and gently stir to combine. Cut the basil leaves into thin strips and add to the pasta. Stir in a little bit of Parmesan cheese.

    • Step 4

      Divide the pasta among four shallow bowls. Garnish pasta with more Parmesan, if you like, and serve.

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140 F / 60 C Recipe Temp
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