Welcome to my first dinner post in so so long! I’m terribly sorry for the delay, it just seems like every good recipe I’ve had recently has been a dessert, but that ends NOW! Last week, I played Mom for my three younger sisters while my parents were away and honestly, I don’t know how anyone does it. Props to you working Moms and Dads! There just didn’t seem to be enough time (or coffee) in the day for me to get things done. I’m not even joking, there was a point in the week where I woke up with a weird pain in my right side and my first thought was “wow, I don’t have time for appendicitis, who will make dinner?”. ????? HM okay Deirdre calm down. But also it turned out to be nothing I think and I’m just going to roll with it!
ANYWAY back to food, when I’m in charge at home, I tend to use my siblings as taste testers for things that I wouldn’t normally try to make during the week, and thank goodness for them. This time it was an adaptation of one of my favorite Smitten Kitchen recipes, Baked Tomato Sauce. Best in the summer when tomatoes are at the height of ripeness, Deb’s recipe brings out the incredibly rich sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and perfectly compliments it with the slight crunch of the toasted breadcrumbs and the lightness of some fresh basil. It’s the epitome of summer in one dish and mark my words, it’s just about perfect as is. But, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to see what else I could do with it and so was born this Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce.
Part of the draw of this recipe is its simplicity, after accidentally spending 2 hours making a Funfetti Cake instead of dinner (post on that coming soon!), I was thrilled at how I could get everything in the pan and into the oven in under 15 minutes. So, the challenge was tweaking the recipe in a way that wouldn’t tack on another 20 minutes of prep time, and didn’t distract from the main flavor players here. In the end, I was incredibly pleased with how this came out and so were my taste testers, and I just know you’ll feel the same way too. Let’s get cooking!
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Baked Tomato Sauce
3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
4 tbs grated pecorino romano cheese
½ tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
1½ lbs. dried orecchiette or large shell pasta
Handful of fresh basil, chiffonade
8oz. Bocconcini or Ciliegine (mozzarella balls!)
1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Drizzle olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, enough to almost cover the bottom entirely. Toss in the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and mix with your hands so that everything is evenly mixed and lightly coated in olive oil. Note: the red pepper flakes measurement is variable, adjust however you’d like based on your tolerance to spicy foods!
2. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, cheeses, and oregano. Sprinkle this mixture evenly and generously over the tomatoes in the baking dish.
3. Top with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons more olive oil- it doesn’t have to be exact, you just want the breadcrumbs to get a golden brown crispness!
4. Bake the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are burst and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
5. While the sauce is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Drain.
6. When the sauce is finished, if there is room in your baking dish, toss the cooked pasta, basil, and bocconcini straight in with the sauce and mix until everything is incorporated evenly and the mozzarella is just starting to melt. If this isn’t possible, transfer your pasta back into the large pot that you cooked it in, add the sauce, mozzarella, and basil, and mix to combine that way. Serve with a sprinkling of basil and a glass of good wine.