Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Vine ripened tomatoes are just now starting to arrive in stores here in Georgia, but for best flavor, I find that cherry or grape tomatoes taste the best -- unless you grow your own, that is, or have a friend willing share his home-grown tomatoes. I don't know if its the variety of tomatoes that commercial farmers grow, or if its the fact that even the tomatoes labeled "vine ripened" are picked underripe or what, but tomatoes just don't have the flavor that they used to. I think that the grape and cherry tomatoes have the most intense tomato flavor.

Dear daughter and I were jonesing for some pasta, and I had a pound of grape tomatoes in the fridge and I decided to put them together. This is what I came up with. It was SCRUMPTIOUS.

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

1 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C minced fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp - 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 C (about 8) kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
parmesan curls to taste
1/2 lb of farfalle, penne, rigatoni or casarecci pasta

Put water for pasta on to boil. Preheat oven to 500F. In a metal 9 x 12 baking pan, mound tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and red pepper flakes. Pour olive oil over and mix well, then place in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Tomatoes are done when the edges just start to carmelize and become shriveled. When pasta is cooked, remove into serving bowl, reserving 1 C of pasta water. Toss well with roasted tomato mixture, olives, parsley and half the cheese. As you toss the pasta, the cheese will melt and thicken the olive oil and water clinging to the pasta into a sauce. If it seems too thick, or if the pasta is sticking together, add a spoon or two of pasta water and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with more parmesan shavings on top.

Dear daughter has given this five stars and has pledged her undying devotion to me, the queen of pasta. I think she liked it.

From dry pasta to dear daughter's mouth: about 40 minutes.

For dessert, we are having ricotta sweetened with honey, topped with sliced strawberries, mango and almonds with a drizzle of amaretto. Its yummy - its what we had for dessert last night as well. Don't you wish you were eating at my house tonight?

Notes: I used Alessi brand Casarecci pasta, which is my new favorite. Its actually small circles of pasta which have been rolled up like a little scroll and dried. I adore it. You can use any pasta that you like as long as it doesn't come in long strands, which would not work well with this. Try to use the best olive oil and olives you can since the flavor is very important.

The next time I make this, I think I'll roast something green with the tomatoes, like Italian green beans, or asparagus, as well as some onion rings.

About dried pasta brands: For my money, the best brand is DiCecco, but I've been pretty happy with Alessi pastas. I'm a sucker for boutique pastas, like orichietti (little ears) which would be yummy in this as well. I also like Barilla brand very much. I don't care for DaVinci brand at all - its gummy. Ronzoni used to be my favorite, but its a distant third after DiCecco and Barilla now. Last year I tried Publix brand which is widely available here in the south, and though I was prepared to hate it, it was not bad at all - definitely worth buying if you can't get DiCecco or Barilla. Otherwise, I'd make my own or do without.

I'll upload a photo when blogspot decides to let me post photos again. I hope its soon!


apnea mom said...

Wow! This sounds really good! I will definitely try this - and soon.
My dad is a retired rocket scientist whose hobby, gardening, has been raised to an art level since retiring. He planted 67 tomato plants that he started from seed that he saved from last year. His varieties include Cherokee Purple tomatoes that are wonderful. He brought veggies to church every Sunday and Wednesday night last summer - attendance was up for those services!

I can't wait to sink my teeth into my first tomato sandwich of the summer. But until then, I agree that those flavorful little grape tomatoes fill the bill nicely.


TracysTribe3 said...

I love your recipes and the pictures. I check in regularly to see what you're cookin!