Thursday, July 29, 2010

Penne with Baked Tomatoes

I recently mentioned a recipe I wanted to share with you.  It's great for this time of year, when the grape tomatoes are little jewels of sun warmed power and flavor and perfection.  It'll be fine later, when the tomatoes are hothouse harvested too, but right now, if you go down to the farmer's markets (or your own backyard if you are far fancier than I am), you can get little tomatoes that taste so entirely like their destiny that you are reluctant to do what I'm doing, smothering them in bread crumbs and cheese and sticking them in a hot oven.  If you are, I get it, but push past and try this anyway.  It's so worth it.

I have become a big fan of The Wednesday Chef and this is the second recipe I've made from her blog.  She got it from The Best American Recipes Cookbook.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound very ripe grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
2 TB freshly grated pecorino (or more Parmigiano)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried penne or other pasta
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish with one third of the oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in the dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Please ignore my vaguely dirty stove and focus instead of the beauty of these tomatoes.  Gorgeous, right?

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses and garlic.  Mix well. Sprinkle the bread  crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. The recipe made a bit more than it felt like I needed.  I think I sprinkled a bit more after I had taken this photo and still had a bit left.  I'm sure adding it to the pan would have been fine.

Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, or until al dente. Time the pasta so it finishes cooking around the same time that the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven.

When the tomatoes are done, add the torn basil and stir vigorously to mix everything into a sauce of sorts. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the baking dish.  Add the remaining olive oil and fold it all together until the tomatoes and cheesy breadcrumbs are married with the pasta. Serve at once.

Serves 4


Lola G.,  July 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

Great photo. I'm glad being a left-handed cook is not slowing you down so much!

NOJuju July 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

Some days are better than others! Sometimes I'm just a bit clumsy. Others, I can't even hold the knife. I must have been OK on that day because look at all those little tomatoes I had to halve!

Also, I'm getting Kid Cayenne to help in the kitchen more. It's great. I guess there's always a silver lining. :)

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