Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce

Sunday night I received a call from my cousin Tom.

"Hey, what are you doing Wednesday night? I'm coming up for work and wanted to see if you'd like to plan on having dinner at grandpas while I'm in town."

I thought to myself, boy I have a busy week, "I'll check my schedule and get back to you."

Right after getting off the phone, a bit of my oldest grand daughter guilt set in. I crossed my fingers that I didn't have anything going on that night. We were free! I called him back the next day and we made arrangements for dinner.

Grandpa was making chicken and vegetables in the crock pot. Tom would make a salad and get some bread. I was left to come up with something to share that I could enjoy as well as everyone else. All I could think about was pasta.

My grandpa, the same one who taught me how to make these biscotti, was raised by an Italian mother and 2 Aunts who were always in the kitchen, always cooking. He's probably eaten some of the best pasta any Italian could ask for. The key to good Italian food, or any food if you ask me, is finding the freshest ingredients you can buy. I didn't have any time to make fresh pasta, but I collected herbs from the garden, picked up a large bunch of vine-ripened tomatoes and set out to make pasta the Italian way.

Roasting tomatoes and garlic soon filled the house with familiar smells. It's amazes me every time I make this how quickly such a tasty plate of pasta comes together and with so few ingredients. The longest part is the roasting of the tomatoes, but it's so worth the time.

Vine-ripened tomatoes have more juice than other varieties, but don't worry about it, most of the extra water will be left in the roasting pan. You can use most any other varieties if you prefer. Also, you may be thinking, shouldn't I cut them smaller, but the beauty of roasting them is that they become soft, so by the time you mix everything up they practically fall apart into bits of tomato for you. Serving this as soon as you finish making it will provide the best results and flavors. Omit the mozzarella for a vegan option, it's still just as tasty without.

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce
serves 6-8

2 lbs tomatoes (about 5-6 large tomatoes)
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
big pinch of re pepper flakes
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup mixed herbs, I used basil, Italian parsley, and oregano
3/4 lb linguini
1/2 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured olives, sliced
8 oz. mozzarella, cubed (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Core and slice tomatoes no more than 1/4-inch in thickness and place on a baking sheet taking care not to over lap; I needed two. Toss the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper over the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and place in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, chop the herbs, and prepare the olives and mozzarella if using, set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and reserve until tomatoes are done.

Toss the pasta with the roasted tomatoes and herbs, then stir in the olives and mozzarella and season with salt. Drizzle with more olive oil if needed and serve warm.