04 July 2009


There is nothing so lovely as a roasted tomato. I love them straight-up roasted, with nothing but some baguette to soak up the juices, or with a little aged goat cheese on the side, or over pasta or polenta or with nothing else, save perhaps a fat basil leaf or two.

For me, roasted tomatoes are the essence of summer (that and anything grilled, but I don't have a grill *SOB*). They are especially good if you start with good tomatoes, preferably from the back yard, or the farmer's market or your CSA, if you're unfortunate enough not to have a good place to grow tomatoes. See, to me, a good tomato tastes like sun and warmth and is meaty and delicious. And the best part is, roasted tomatoes can be as ugly as they come--since they're going to melt in the oven anyway, there's just no reason for them to be perfect specimens. All tomatoes can get some love.

So it was only fitting that Jeff and I ended our summer vacation with them--after having spent almost 10 lovely days in Denver, we gave Jeff's mom a night off from cooking, and we made Jeff's very favorite summer pasta. Summer pasta has roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and plenty of herbs to brighten it up. It is warm and creamy and tastes pretty much like you would hope summer would.

Summer Pasta, adapted from The New York Times

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, sliced about 3/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound chunky pasta, such as farfalle or orichiette
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cups fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
1 tub (about 12 ounces) fresh mozzarella, either the small balls or large
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup torn mixed herbs, such as assorted basils, parsely, and mint

1. roast the tomatoes Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchement paper or aluminum foil, and place tomato slices evenly on them. Sprinkle the tomatoes evenly with salt and sugar; pour on olive oil. You may need a little more; also, make sure that each tomato gets at least a smattering of oil--I usually rub it in with my fingers. Bake tomatoes for 15 minutes, and reduce heat to 200. Continue baking, turning halfway through, until tomatoes are shrunken and chewy, but not crisp, 4-6 hours.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, chop roasted tomatoes very finely, until they are almost a paste. Place in a large serving bowl, and add the garlic, butter, and olive oil. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add it to the tomato mixture. Toss well.

3. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and cut the mozzarella until it's about the same size as the tomatoes. Add these, as well as the parmasan and herbs, to the pasta mixture. Toss again, and serve warm.

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