Friday, September 04, 2009

Slow-Roasted Tomato Pasta

Don't know about you, but I'm harvesting tomatoes by the armload these days. They're super juicy and delicious, but I'm pretty sure I was crazy to think all 24 plants were necessary. Nutty. I recently read Molly Wizenberg's tomé, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen and ransacked the recipe for her Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander. My tomatoes weren't doused with coriander. I just kept 'em plain with salt and pepper, and I quartered every kind of tomato in my garden rather than using the paste varieties she recommends. Five hours later, my house was fragrant with tomato essence. I popped the quarters into my mouth and ate as many as I could straight from the oven. They'd cooked down to a fraction of their size while the flavor escalated. I still had a half sheet pan full of them, however. Now what?

Why not make pasta? I made a slurry of sauce by pureeing part of the leftover batch with a smidge of oil and lemon juice. Then I tossed in the rest of the tomato pieces, a bit of lemon zest, tons of torn basil and doused the whole bit with parmesan. The result: a gooey, decadent texture without much fat and a big punch of tomato flavor.

Try oven roasting your tomatoes. Please. I know it seems a lot of work for a tomato that's already delicious plain. But roasting solidifies the core essence of the tomato, bakes it down until it's twice as potent and amazing. You only have to try it once. If you don't like it, never do it again, okay? Okay.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
Idea stolen and adapted from Molly Wizenberg

10-20 tomatoes, washed and dried with stems cut out
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 200º and pull out a sheet pan with edges. If you have paste tomatoes (plum, roma, etc.) cut them in half. If you're using round tomatoes, cut them into quarters. Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a small bowl. Dip your fingers into the bowl and gently rub each bit of tomato before placing it on the baking sheet. When you're finished oiling all the tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, just a bit per slice, less than you'd sprinkle on if you were eating it right there. Then bake in the oven for 4-6 hours. Just let them go for 4 hours before you check them, then let them go for another hour or two until done. In the end, they should be about half the size with crinkled edges. The centers will still be soft and juicy. You can eat them immediately and reserve any leftovers for pasta. (Sadly, I don't have any pictures of these because I was busy eating them.)

Slow-Roasted Tomato Pasta
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main

8oz tube pasta (penne, ziti, rigatoni, mostaccoli, etc.), cooked to al dente

10 halves or quarters of slow-roasted tomatoes
1 T balsamic vinegar
3 T olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice

10-15 halves or quarters of slow-roasted tomatoes
handful of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Drain the cooked pasta and set aside in a large bowl. Use a blender to combine the first section of slow-roasted tomatoes with the balsamic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil to make a smooth, loose sauce. Pour over the pasta and combine. While that sits, slice the remaining tomatoes into bit-size pieces. Add them to the bowl and grate the parmesan right over it. Tear the basil leaves into the bowl, then toss everything together. Taste it, adding salt and pepper to your liking. Serve at room temperature with loads of crusty, garlicky bread.

1 comment:

Amy said...

24 tomato plants, really? I'm jealous. I can only fit two in my tiny garden. We didn't have a very warm summer, though, so it took a loooong time for them to ripen. Finally enjoying them in sauce, on bread, etc.

This dish is making my mouth water.


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