Pasta with baked cherry tomatoes

spaghetti with tomatoes prep free.jpg

This is a recipe I got from Lidia Bastianich. It has become a family favorite.

Ingredients

  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • ⅓ cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta pot
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti or penne
  • 10 plump garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup pecorino, freshly grated

Directions
Part One!

  • Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.
  • Toss the cherry-tomato halves in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle over tomatoes the bread crumbs, salt, and crushed pepper; toss well to coat the tomatoes.
  • Pour the tomatoes onto the parchment-lined sheet, and spread them apart in a single layer.
  • Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightly caramelized (but not dried out), about 30-35 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, fill the large pot with salted water, and heat to a rolling boil. When the tomatoes are nearly done, drop the pasta into the pot, stir, and return the water to a boil. 

As soon as the pasta is cooking:
Part Two!

  • Pour the remaining olive oil into the big skillet, set it over medium-high heat, and scatter in the sliced garlic.
  • Cook for a minute or two, until it is sizzling and lightly colored, then ladle in about 2-3 cups of the pasta cooking water, and bring to a vigorous boil, stirring up the garlic.
  • Let half the water evaporate, then lower the heat, stir in the chopped parsley and keep the sauce barely simmering.
  • As soon as the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven

Part Three!

  • When the pasta is al dente, lift it from the water, drain for a moment and drop it into the skillet, still over low heat.
  • Toss pasta quickly with the garlic and- parsley sauce in the pan, then slide the baked tomatoes on top of the pasta.
  • Scatter the basil shreds all over, and toss everything together well, until the pasta is evenly dressed and the tomatoes are distributed throughout.
  • Turn off the heat, sprinkle with the grated cheese, and toss once more.
  • Mound the pasta in a warmed serving bowl. Sprinkle the pasta with cheese, and serve.

***Make it even Quicker:  Skip part 2 & 3 and pour the tomatoes straight from the oven over drained pasta sprinkle fresh basil and cheese on top – still just as yummy!