For the Tomato Salad/Sauce: Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 crosswise, parallel to the stems, and gently press the seeds out. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces, and put them in a bowl large enough to hold the finished dish. Add the remaining salad ingredients and toss well.
For the Pasta: Salt the water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, bring back to a boil, and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, more or less, depending on how firm you like your pasta. Add a 6-ounce ladle of the hot pasta water to the tomato salad. Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it immediately to the tomato salad. Toss thoroughly, and divide the pasta among 4 soup plates. Sprinkle generously with the cheese, and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy Jacques Pepin, The Apprentice, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003