It’s tomato season! Field tomatoes. The real thing that tastes like sunshine. I love tomatoes in all sizes, but today I’m thinking about cherry tomatoes. August’s snack of choice.
They are obviously perfect to just pop in your mouth, but for a few other ideas:
- Toss them in some melted butter in a sauté pan until they are just warmed through. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Or even better, a good lemon/pepper!
- Combine them with mozzarella balls and fresh basil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and good balsamic.
- Add them to a grill basket with veggies like zucchini, peppers, and onions. Add them once the other items are close to being cooked. It’s just fine if they start to crack open, but you don’t want tomato mush.
- Add them to a pasta salad for little bursts of freshness.
One of my favorite recipes using cherry tomatoes is an adaptation of Lidia Bastianich’s “Pasta With Baked Cherry Tomatoes” (Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy.) If you want the original recipe, check out the cookbook or her website. The one I’m going to post here is true to hers in spirit, but the measurements are different.
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 C dried bread crumbs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 pound spaghetti or linguini
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Put halved cherry tomatoes in a bowl with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the bread crumbs, salt and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat the tomatoes.
3. Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until lightly caramelized. Remove from oven when they are done and set aside.
4. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Start cooking the pasta when the tomatoes are just about done.
5. Pour the remaining olive oil into a saute pan set on medium heat. Add the sliced garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until the edges are sizzling.
6. Add 1 C of the pasta water and bring to a vigorous boil until the water ir reduced by half. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer.
7. Add the cooked pasta to the simmering garlic infused water/sauce. Slide the roasted tomatoes onto the pasta. Scatter the basil pieces over the tomatoes and toss everything together.
8. Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Toss again to coat.
This is a very simple dish that is just packed with flavor. I’ve roasted onions along with the tomatoes. Hard to go wrong with garlicy roasted tomatoes and pasta!