Roasted sauce allows a tomato’s intense sweetness to come through
Have you noticed all of the different varieties of tomatoes at your market? There are grape tomatoes, orange, yellow and red cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes, to name a few. They are a cook’s best friend for adding color and flavor to many dishes. They have little bursts of sweet flavor when tossed into a salad and they are a nice surprise when halved and roasted in the oven, allowing their rich, intense caramel tomato flavor to come forward.
I love the uncomplicated garlic and caramelized tomato flavor on plain pasta. You can use any variety of cherry tomatoes or the smaller grape tomatoes. The difference between regular cherry and grape varieties is mostly in their shape. I think they both have lots of moisture and sweet tomato flavor. Plan on a few minutes to halve the tomatoes, but that’s the most work you will do for this recipe.
This roasted tomato sauce would also be delicious spooned over a simple piece of fish or spooned on top of toasted French bread slices. I’ll then grate some Parmesan cheese on top of the tomato mixture for a lovely appetizer.
Clever cook suggestions:
■Add capers, olives, crushed red pepper or anchovies for an extra layer of flavor.
■Add cooked shredded chicken to the pasta for a more substantial dish.
■Grill shrimp or scallops and place on top of the pasta.
■Refrigerate any leftover pasta, and serve chilled with cold roast chicken, salmon or halibut the next day.
■Add a little balsamic syrup (to the pasta).
Pasta with Garlic, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan
1 1/2 pounds ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh French bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound penne, fusilli or shell pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the tomato halves in a large baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper. Spoon evenly over the tomatoes. Spoon the olive oil evenly over the mixture.
Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly, browned and slightly thickened.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
Add the pasta to the tomato mixture in the baking dish. Add the basil and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Pass the Parmesan. Serves 4.
Per serving: 651 calories; 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 26 percent calories from fat); 98 g carbohydrates; 8 g sugar; 8 mg cholesterol; 411 mg sodium; 21 g protein; 5 g fiber.