"There are five elements—earth, air, fire, water and garlic." ~ Louis Diat
I should advise you up front that my version of this simple pasta dish is for garlic lovers only. Not all people are as fond of garlic as I am. I made this painful discovery during my catering days which, thankfully—are way, way behind me in the rear-view mirror of my life. For example, my former acquantaince Kirk Douglas, my ex-husband and many other people that I know, do not enjoy garlic at all, and therefore, do not eat it—ever. I, on the other hand, must have had a previous life in Southern Italy and can't seem to get enough of this powerful aromatic culinary herb. For more of my musings on the health benefits of garlic and another great garlicky recipe click here.
I learned to make this garlic extravaganza after having had a similar dish for the first time in an Italian restaurant in Solvang, California more than 20 years ago. The restaurant, now defunct, was called Paoli's—and the owner, Carlo, was a middle-aged blond man with the accent of an East Coast mafioso. Carlo was dating the local newspaper heiress at the time. I still remember that he boldly marked one of the parking spaces in front of the restaurant with her name stenciled in bold black letters across the concrete tire barrier—proclaiming it to be reserved for her exclusive use. A rather cheesy yet grandiose romantic gesture that impressed and horrified me at the same time. Carlo's pasta recipe wasn't exacty like my present day dish—it was a classic Aglio E Olio, but his recipe did serve to push me into thinking quite differently about garlic.
When we girls were growing up, my recollections are that in our family, we were very conservative consumers of garlic in those days. I remember the garlic additions to our family menu were usually in a dry form, and the dehydrated garlic was accompanied by a liberal dose of MSG contained in the seasoning mix. So it was that on a fateful afternoon in 1992, in the dimly lit interior of Paoli's, I discovered fresh garlic used with reckless abandon in a dish could make it a revelation—something that sets fire to your soul. Now, many years down the road, garlic and I are longtime lovers.
I only make this pasta dish in the summer, just like my Eggplant Parmigiano, when the tomatoes are really juicy and ripe—fresh out of a sun-drenched field. I purchase them from Whole Foods Market or at my local farmer's market. I still enjoy the vivid memory of the first time that I tasted the pungent garlic pasta on that fateful afternoon in the Santa Ynez Valley—so long ago now. At the time it was a revelation to my senses, and it remains so—Linda and garlic—until death do us part.
Summer Pasta with Garlic, Fresh Tomatoes, Parsley, Basil and Olive Oil