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My Favorite 5-Ingredient Summer Dish (my kids like it, too)

I am a terrible gardener—Julie Grimes puts me to shame with her backyard garden. I’ll put a lot of things in the ground in the spring, and then I’ll start to neglect the garden when I feel defeated by the weeds and the weather gets too hot. This still usually works out OK for me (the garden finds a way to thrive), but this summer has been especially brutal. So my garden is now fried. Yet even in its death throes, it selflessly offers up a bounty, which I do not deserve, like what you see in the picture. It’s shameful, like the boy you’re mean to in college who still gives you all his class notes and remembers your birthday.

Since I’m fortunate enough to have lots of tomatoes right now, and doubly lucky because my kids adore them (they eat big ones like apples, slurping over a plate to catch the juices), I’ve been making this pasta dish a lot. I love it for its simplicity—for its pure, uncomplicated flavors. All you need are five ingredients (not counting salt and pepper) and about 15 minutes.

Cook 5 sliced garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Toss in about 4 cups chopped/halved heirloom tomatoes (I use a mix of coarsely chopped beefsteak tomatoes, wedges of smaller globe tomatoes, and halved cherry or pear tomatoes). Increase heat to medium, and cook about 5 minutes—just until tomatoes start to soften. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with 4 cups cooked pasta (I like fun short shapes like strozzapreti or trofie, shown here), and top with a handful of torn basil. Serves 4 happy people. If you’d like to grant yourself six ingredients, top with a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you’re feeling kicky, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper as you gently cook the garlic.

Find more inspiration in our 5-Ingredient Cookbook.