I was always wild about tomatoes. Even as a young child I remember biting into sun ripened tomatoes straight out of my mother's garden. I also remember tasting my first "raw" tomato sauce in Rome, prepared by my dear family friend, Marina. For years I pestered my mother to recreate that pasta here at home. However, our tomatoes never seemed to taste like the ones I had in Rome, that is, until the heirloom tomatoes appeared in our markets. This pasta dish is a tribute to my mother and Marina, the two biggest culinary influences in my life. Grazie mille mama e Marina!

Ingredients

1 pound spaghetti
1 pound assorted heirloom tomatoes (brandywine, Cherokee purple, green zebra and sweet orange), cut into chunks
1 burrata (cheese) - if burrata is unavailable, you can substitute with fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup olive oil
2 gloves of garlic, minced - use a microplane
1 teaspoon dried chile flakes (pepperoncini)
1 handful torn basil leaves

Directions

Step 1
Place large pasta or stock pot of water on high heat and let boil, at which point add a healthy handful of salt (you want the water to almost taste like the sea) and put in the spaghetti. NOTE: never add olive oil to water and never put a lid on pot after you have put in the pasta.

Step 2
Next add olive oil to saute pan and place on medium heat.

Step 3
When pan is hot enough, add garlic and pepperoncini and cook until garlic nearly dissolves (but does not burn) and the hot pepper flakes flavor the oil, approximately 1 minute.

Step 4
Pasta should be done (al dente) in approximately 8 minutes. Drain and put in serving bowl.

Step 5
Coat pasta with warm garlic-chile flavored oil, toss in heirloom tomatoes.

Step 6
Using your hands, tear the burrata into bite size pieces and sprinkle on pasta and tomatoes.

Step 7
Mix all ingredients. The heat from the pasta will \

Step 8
Top with handful of freshly torn basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Note: you may want to add a little more olive oil at the end to finish the dish and make it glisten.