I never much cared for tomatoes growing up. There was the taste, which all too often simply wasn’t of much, and then there was the texture, which was far too occasionally mealy. It was only when I met a man with a membership to a local CSA that I fell in love.
And, can you blame me? Finally, tomatoes that tasted like, well, tomatoes. Firmly fleshed, fragrant, deep red. Had I had these growing up, I’m sure that I would have felt much differently. It was early September and suddenly I wanted to eat them at every meal, including breakfast, while they were still in season.
Then again, I remember my father eating beefsteak tomatoes, garnished with a touch of salt and pepper, as if they were apples throughout my childhood, so, really, it was only a matter of time before this happened.
In the summer, when the crops have reached their peak, I like to prepare them simply as wellmy go-to summer salad consists of tomatoes with a splash of lemon juice, cucumbers, red onions and some salt and pepper, that’s itbut it’s not quite summer, yet. And, while the farmer’s markets around me are (finally!) showing signs of Spring, the tomatoes aren’t quite there.
So, what’s a girl to do to get her tomato fix?
Three words: oven roast them
The low heat enhances the flavor, getting every last bit of out. As a quick snack, it’s perfect served with some crusty bread. But, it’s even better with pasta.
What I love about this dish is the ease with which it comes together. You can make it while you’re busy doing something elsechopping up the tomatoes and shallots takes literally no time at all. Then it’s up to the low heat to do most of the work for you. All you need is patience (noticing a theme here, are you?). I like to take the tomatoes out of the oven while they’re still a bit juicy, and use the juices they give off to coat the pasta, but if you leave them a little longer, the pasta water can thin down the sauce as well.
See what I mean? This pasta is forgiving in that waythe perfect dinner for a week night, really.
Perfect, too, for bulking up. Simply add more pasta, tomatoes or beans and you’re well on your way to feeding a crowd.
If you’re looking to bulk the dish beyond that, play up the tapas inspired flavors by adding in some chorizo and topping with grated manchego. Then, ask one of the members of that crowd you’ve ill-advisedly invited over for dinner to bring the Rioja. It’ll be almost like you’re in Spain.
Rigatoni with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
About the tomatoes: I used campari. They’re already sweet and about medium sized. You could certainly use cherry or grape, just half them instead. Or, if you’re using bigger tomatoes, cut them into smaller pieces. They key here is really to keep the size of the pieces fairly uniform so that they cook consistently.
1 lb rigatoni
0.75 lbs tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 TBS sherry vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 can (15.5 oz) cannelini beans
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Coat the bottom of a glass, oven-safe dish with olive oil, and place the quartered tomatoes in it. Add the oregano, shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and heat for approximately 1 hour, until the tomatoes have shriveled and the shallots have begun to caramelize. Add in the sherry vinegar and stir. Leave in the oven at a low heat until your pasta is ready.
In the last ten minutes of cooking your tomatoes, cook your pasta in well salted water.
Once the pasta is al dente, remove the tomato mixture from the oven. Drain the cannelini beans and add them to the tomato mixture.
Drain the pasta, preserving a cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the tomato and bean mixture. Stir. If the sauce is too thick, add some of your pasta water to thin it out. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Click here for a link to a printable version of this recipe.