Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling water until al dente. Just before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the water.
In a medium saute pan over medium high heat, toast the pine nuts until fragrant and golden, about 2 to 3 minutes, set aside. Place pan back on the heat over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. If the sauce is too dry, add the remaining pasta water. Add the basil to the pan. Saute until just wilted. Remove the sauce from the heat.
Place the pasta in a large bowl. Season the pasta with salt. Top the pasta with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the pasta and cheese (if using). Toss to combine, taste and adjust seasonings, serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy Kathleen Daelemans