Looking over my recent blog posts, I realize they have been a little dessert heavy. I don’t think anyone has really minded (especially not Joe) but I thought it was due time for something of the savory sort. The warm weather is slowly but surely making its way to the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve been in a summer state of mind. When you think about food as much as I do, that means tomatoes, fresh herbs, and quick and easy dinners. (And ice cream!) This pasta dish is insanely simple, but when you start with good ingredients, the depth of flavor makes it taste a lot fancier than it really is. But you don’t have to tell anyone else that.
The key is to give the tomatoes a quick blast in the oven before you toss them with the pasta. They get soft and juicy, and their flavor is super duper heightened. I love to add a garlic clove or two (or four if I feel like a wild woman!) to roast along with the tomatoes, and then I mash it up and swirl it into the juices to add some oomph to the sauce. The addition of either sherry or balsamic vinegar at the end adds a simple yet effective extra layer of flavor.
My favorite way to use these tomatoes is in pasta, but they are also just delightful spooned onto some crostini as an easy appetizer or served on top of some grilled chicken or fish. I reckon a frittata would be a happy home for them as well. The possibilities are endless!
Roasted Tomato Pasta
This pasta recipe is a perfect base for additional ingredients. A thinly sliced grilled chicken breast or some grilled shrimp would be excellent. Or a few dollops of fresh ricotta and some toasted pine nuts would put a smile on any vegetarian’s face.
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh thyme, optional
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
6 oz. capellini pasta (aka angel hair) or any other long noodled variety
2 teaspoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
Fresh herbs (such as basil, thyme, marjoram, chives)
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, a few grinds of pepper, thyme, if using, and garlic in a medium-sized baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are collapsed and juicy.
While tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the tomatoes are out of the oven, drop the pasta and cook according to package directions. (Capellini is very skinny, so it only takes a couple of minutes which is the perfect amount of time to finish dressing the tomatoes.)
Remove the tomatoes from the oven and discard the thyme sprigs. Add the vinegar, most of the fresh herbs, and 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Using the back of a spoon, mash the garlic clove into a paste and mix it in. Drain the pasta reserving about 1/2 a cup of the hot pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and quickly add the tomatoes and give it a toss. If the tomatoes aren’t particularly juicy, add some of the reserved pasta water to help coat the noodles and keep them loose. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, and garnish with remaining herbs and Parmesan. Dig in! Serves 2 as a (hearty) main or 4 as a first course.