Thursday, September 20, 2007

it's been too long since pasta

Right? What was I thinking?! Another relatively quick and surprisingly delicious pasta sauce is this baked tomato sauce, which magically transforms grape tomatoes into a tangy, delicious mess of a sauce. Sliced in half, topped with a bread crumb and cheese mixture, drizzled with olive oil and thrown in the oven for all of 20 minutes, the tomatoes almost disintegrate when tossed with the pasta. 20 minutes is pretty quick in my mind, but once the aroma of the baking garlicky sauce starts wafting through the house, you'll start staring at the timer. Or you can time it like I do, post-workout and desperately in need of a shower. I start the water boiling and the oven heating, then start slicing tomatoes and prepping the sauce. By the time that's ready, the oven's hot, the sauce goes in, I hop in the shower. By the time I'm out, the water's boiling, the pasta goes in. 10 minutes later everything's ready, I'm nice and clean and pajama-ed, and we're ready to roll.

This is a particularly good sauce to pair with homemade pasta because it's simplicity lets good pasta's flavor shine through. But in the interest of time and faux-healthiness, last night I paired it with whole wheat fettuccine. And a DVD of season 1 episodes of the "The Closer". Recipe after the jump:

Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce
Adapted from

5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pound very ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound pasta of your choice
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with 2 to 3 tbsp of the oil. Place the tomatoes cut side up in the dish.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses, and garlic and toss with a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with remaining oil. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Time the pasta so it finishes cooking about the time the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven. Toss pasta and sauce together in a large bowl.

Serves 4

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