I go through cooking phases. At times, I gravitate towards complex and elaborate recipes comprised of ingredients I can hardly pronounce. Then, at other times, I’m drawn to those easy and simple recipes that consist of maybe only a handful of ingredients that I already have, readily stored within the walls of my refrigerator or cupboards. As of right now, I’m definitely in that latter phase.
It isn’t as un-glamorous as it sounds though. In fact, such simple recipes bring out the true flavors of each ingredient ultimately creating a delicious sum of its parts. Besides, it’s obviously convenient and shamelessly cheaper. Plus, it makes a lighter meal that’s perfect for the sweltering hot summer. In which case, this recipe is fabulous. Even more so with a good glass of wine or frosty mug of beer.
I’m actually quite the pasta fiend and I have found myself falling in love all over again with tomato sauces. Morning after morning, I would wake up craving good old spaghetti with old-fashioned marinara with a kick, and even a punch or two. The BF and I would make our own versions of the classic spaghetti day after day until it lulled us into spaghetti limbo. It was, undoubtedly, only for a fleeting moment. For the longest time, it was all about the rich and creamy white sauces and then the garlic oil. But, in the end, it’s all about going back to the basics.
We’re talking way basic here. How could you resist the innocent nature of it though? The bright red cherry tomatoes almost neatly facing up before being baked under a glorious blanket of snow-like garlicky bread crumbs and parmesan. Then the pasta perfectly prepared al dente mixed into the golden brown crust and soft tomatoes with sweet basil. Infatuating, no?
Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino (or, if you don’t have this, just more Parmigiano)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried pasta (I used linguine, but penne or spaghetti are fine)
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with one-third 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. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20-25 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.
When the tomatoes are done, add the basil and stir vigorously to mix everything into a sauce. Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to the baking dish. Add the remaining olive oil and mix well. Serve at once.