Mattie and I at the restraurant overlooking the marina
Two years ago Mattie and I went for a week to Nueva Vallarta which is just north of Puerto Vallarta. We had a wonderful time there and experienced some really great dining (including an awesome Cuban restaurant that I will have to write about some time). One of our wierdest, but most delicious meals was at an Italian restaurant at the resort we were staying at. It was wierd because one does not expect to find good Italian food in Puerto Vallarta. The view however was amazing because it looked over the marina so we could dream about having a yacht there one day! While at the Italian food restaurant (and I obviously cannot remember the name of said place) we had a very simple tomato and chicken pasta dish. While being one of the more simple things I had ordered on a menu, it was without a doubt one of the most delicious items I had ever had out to eat. It was clean, refreshing, and totally unpretentious. The chef (or cook...whatever) had let the tomatoes really stand out in the meal. The pasta was not trying to be anything it wasn't...it said I am pasta with tomatoes and basil...love me for it...and I did! Since coming back I have been trying to replicate said meal (without the marina of course).
For this dish I took fresh roma tomatoes. I like them a little firm so that they hold together better and so they have a little bite to them. However, with summer approaching, if you can get actual home grown tomatoes please use those. I wash, seed, and chop the tomatoes. In a pan heat olive oil and add garlic and diced red or yellow onion. I do not carmelize my onions for this dish, but cook them at a lower temperature until they are sweet and translucent. I then add the tomatoes and cook those on medium heat until heated through. Turn your heat down to low and add (about a turn of the pan) a good quality balsamic vinegar. Add salt, feshly ground black pepper, and tons of fresh basil. Toss with your favorite pasta (I like penne with this), some cheese (the possibilities are endless...I would recommend some grated parmesan and some chopped fresh mozzarella), and more basil. For extra flavor and nutrition, we like to chiffonade spinach to add to the pasta to let it wilt away. We top it off with sauteed or grilled chicken and serve it with salad. Enjoy!