Perhaps “The Easiest Pasta” is a misnomer. Perhaps boiled soba in dipping sauce is actually easier, but when you want a new flavor profile on easy summer pasta–i.e., when you spend all summer eating cold Japanese noodles–this is your recipe.
The ingredients are easy to find in Japan: fresh basil was in the produce section of the largest of my rural grocery stores; pine nuts are often located in the Asian section of the store with the Chinese and Korean spices. As for the cheese, if you can’t find good hard cheese, you could use mozzarella or another mild softer cheese, or Kraft grated cheese, or omit the cheese to make the dish vegan.
In addition to being insanely easy to make, you can easily adjust this dish to taste: more basil (always more basil!), less onion, juicier tomatoes to make more of a sauce. You could also add fresh or dried oregano if you like, or a dash of balsamic vinegar–it’s up to you!
Best of all, if you chop everything before you start, you’ll only spend about 10 minutes with the heat on.
Nutritional information: see below
200 g whole-wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)
10 g pine nuts (matsu no mi, 松の実)
2 TBSP olive oil (orîbu oiru, オリーブオイル)
1/2 onion, chopped (tamanegi, タナネギ)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped (ninniku, ニンニク)
1 firm tomato, chopped and drained of excess juice (tomato, トマト)
Sea salt, to taste (arajio, 粗塩)
Coarse black pepper, to taste (koshô, 胡椒)
5-7 leaves basil, sliced into strips (bajiru, バジル)
small whole basil leaves for garnish
~1/2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (parumezan chîzu, パルメザン・チーズ)
1 large sauce pan
1 large pot
1. Lightly toast pine nuts in a dry frying pan over low heat. Be sure to watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When they begin to sweat and brown, they will be done shortly. Remove from heat and set nuts aside.
2. In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta according to directions.
3. In the same frying pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, cooking until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add garlic, and cook for bout 1-2 minutes more.
5. Add salt, pepper, and tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. Drain cooked pasta well and add to pan. Heat pasta and tomatoes together for another minute.
7. Remove from heat and add cheese and sliced basil. Toss to incorporate.
8. Garnish with pine nuts and small basil leaves.