Friday, August 5, 2011

Cappellini with slow roasted grape tomatoes

Usually you think of slow roasting tomatoes when they have been sitting on the kitchen counter for sometime and are starting to look slow roasted without being in the oven. But this is such a great recipe that you don't need to wait for that stage. You can make this with those luscious grape tomatoes that you just bought.

Slow roasting concentrates the flavor of the tomato and makes for a nice thick pasta sauce which coats the pasta beautifully and imparts a gorgeous pink hue. I add some additional flavor by sprinkling some fresh thyme while roasting the tomatoes.

I have made this sauce with raw garlic as well as roasted garlic, but I prefer the punch of the raw garlic contrasting with the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes. If you are not a garlic fan, then using either sauteed garlic or roasted garlic will be the way to go.

In this recipe, I have used cappellini (angel hair pasta), but any long cut pasta like spaghetti, fettucini or linguini works well. If you use whole wheat spaghetti, you will not get that beautiful color, but the taste will be great - a nice nutty flavor of the whole wheat and the tart sweetness of the tomatoes. What I love most about this recipe is that the oven does most of the work for you and at the end of it, you get an awesome pasta dish.

Cappellini with grape tomatoes and basil

6 oz cappellini pasta
1lb grape tomatoes
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 - 1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
1 small garlic clove
1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2 small calabrian dried chilies** (these are tiny red chilies from Italy or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Cut the tomatoes into half lengthwise and place them on a foil lined baking sheet cut side up. Sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil. Scatter the thyme leaves over the tomatoes and roast in the 200 F oven for 2 hours. After two hours the tomatoes will be shriveled but juicy. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

2. When cool, place all the tomatoes, the oil and the juice into a food processor with the garlic and process till it is a paste. Then add the chili peppers and run the processor till it is well incorporated. Finally drizzle in 2 tablespoons olive oil and buzz again to make a thick sauce. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3. Heat a large pot of salted boiling water and cook the pasta for 3 minutes. Before draining the pasta, keep aside about a cup of the pasta cooking water for thinning the sauce. Add the drained pasta to the tomato sauce in the mixing bowl. Add 1/2 of the chopped basil and a few grinds of black pepper and toss well. If the pasta is too dry, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. The sauce should coat all the pasta well. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining basil leaves. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 3.

**In NYC they are available in Buono Italia in Chelsea market

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