Food Network teaches how to crush, slice and mince garlic. Peel off some of the papery skin from the garlic and then smash the head of garlic with the heel of your hand to loosen the cloves; if you only need a few cloves, leave the head intact and pull some off. Separate the cloves. To peel a clove, cut away the root end with your knife. Lay the flat side of the knife over the clove while holding the knife handle, then with the heel of your free hand carefully whack the knife against the garlic to separate the skin from the clove. To crush the peeled garlic, lay the flat side of the knife over the clove and smash it again. To slice peeled garlic, lay the clove flat on the cutting board and hold it with the fingertips of one hand, keeping them curled under. Using a rocking motion with the knife, make thin slices by moving the knife slowly across the clove. To mince peeled garlic, lay the flat side of a knife over the clove and smash it. Roughly chop the clove then move your free hand flat across the tip of the knife and use a rocking motion to chop the garlic until it’s finely minced.
Combine the cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.
Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente according to the directions on the package (be careful - it only takes 2 to 3 minutes!). Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well. Serve in big bowls with extra cheese on each serving.
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