As much as it pains me to admit, I do not have a green thumb. I once killed lucky bamboo, which I didn’t even know was possible. But I am lucky enough to be deep into home-grown produce this summer thanks to my very green-thumbed husband who diligently cares for gardens both at our home and my mom’s.
Our current favorite way to use up our surplus of tomatoes came about when I tried Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta recipe. Let me just tell you: this stuff is LEGIT.
The hardest part about the recipe is the foresight you need: the prep is super simple, but it has to sit at room temperature for about 4 hours. My solution? Save it for a day off and make this in the morning so you’ll be good to go for lunchtime.
Ina’s recipe is to combine halved cherry tomatoes (but any diced tomato will work) with olive oil, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and set it aside to marinate. When you’re ready to serve, cook your pasta of choice al dente and drain it, then toss the hot pasta with the tomato mixture and add some Parmesan. That’s it! We served ours alongside grilled chicken.
Overall, Ina’s recipe is super easy and even more delicious. Those marinated tomatoes alone are to die for. I was eating them like candy while waiting for the pasta water to boil. I got to thinking about ways to incorporate them into more summer dishes since they were so easy.
The most obvious way is as a bruschetta topping. Simply slice a loaf of French bread and brush both sides with olive oil. Toast in an oven and then rub the hot slices of bread with a halved clove of garlic on both sides. Top with your tomato mixture.
Another delicious way to enjoy the tomatoes is as a twist on Caprese Dip. Simply spread a pie plate with 8 ounces softened cream cheese and top with the marinated tomatoes. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes and cool slightly before serving with pita chips or crostini.
Bruschetta Chicken (Two Ways)
If you’re looking for more of a main course approach, try one of these Bruschetta Chicken variations.
In one version based on this low-carb recipe, the chicken breasts are marinated for 20 minutes in equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixed with garlic and Italian seasoning and baked at 425 for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Then the chicken breasts are topped with shredded mozzarella and the tomato mixture and returned to the oven for about 5 minutes to get the cheese all melty.
In the other version based on this Hello Fresh recipe, season your chicken breasts with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, and then top with a crust made from panko, shredded mozzarella, and melted butter. Bake the chicken until cooked through, 15-25 minutes, and then top with your tomato mixture.
A note about the leftover tomato mixture: Once they’re marinated at room temperature, they’re fine in the fridge. When plating the pasta, we added the tomatoes to each serving of pasta individually and saved the leftover pasta separate from the tomatoes. We simply let the tomatoes come back to room temperature when we wanted to use them again.