If I had my way, it would always be summer and I would have an unending supply of fresh tomatoes to eat in a thousand different ways, 900 of them served with some kind of pasta.
I really don’t like to open cans of tomatoes. I prefer fresh food, but I do and I will when it’s the middle of winter or I need a tomato sauce for the more traditional Italian lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs.
One of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is to roast them and use them for pasta and seafood or pasta and beans. When tomatoes are roasted in the oven, they caramelize and transform from a sweet fruit to something more sultry, and very concentrated in flavor. A little goes a long way, and gives the proper boost to more shrimp and white beans. And, for the vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian, roasted tomatoes, pasta, cannellini beans and little basil and you have a perfect meal.
And, it’s all done in under an hour, for mere dollars. (Remember the days, when we said, mere pennies?)
I began roasting tomatoes last summer when we planted our first garden and we couldn’t keep up with eating the bounty of tomatoes, thanks to DC’s hard work. On one of my whims to eat everything in our garden, I threw a bunch of tomatoes into the oven to see what would happen.
It was that easy. And then the fun began. I made roasted tomatoes with fresh pesto (we also grew basil) and served it as an appetizer with Italian bread. And, as you will see in coming posts, the roasted tomato became a frequent guest. We ate it on fish, chicken, in soup, stews, pizza, or just spread on Italian bread with some fresh basil.
These are large cherry tomatoes, but you can roast smaller grape tomatoes and you can roast larger roma tomatoes or homegrowns, by quartering them. Keep it simple… tomatoes, olive oil, sea salt.
Different sizes and different types of tomatoes will roast differently. These pictures will show you the process. Don’t get too concerned with a few dark skins, as the tomatoes will slip right out.
You might be asking what is bucatini? It’s a rather thick spaghetti, that is hollow. It has a hole running through the middle and is the official pasta in Bucatini all’Amatriciana, a dish very common in Rome, and the first time I had it. The Italians (in Italy) take the al dente process very seriously and the pasta (especially in this dish) will almost have a crunch. Cooking the pasta in this al dente fashion actually aids digestion, which is counterintuitive, but the Italians just “know” how to eat what and in what order to feel the best.
The brand I purchase comes in two-pound packages only, which means we need to invite people over. It’s fun to introduce friends to a pasta they mostly likely have not experienced. Part of the fun of dinner parties is to give guests a delicious meal and a new experience. You can make this dish with a macaroni too, such as penne pasta.
How about you? What is your favorite shaped pasta?
- Bucatini with Shrimp and Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 pound bucatini (or pasta of choice)
- 2 pounds wild shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons capers
- 1½ roasted tomatoes made from 4 cups fresh tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
- 4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese (I use sheep’s feta, purchased in brine)
- ½ teaspoon red chile peppers
- !Roasted Tomatoes
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt
- Cook pasta according to directions minus 2 minutes (al dente). Use a large amount of water and good amount of salt. Drain immediately. Pasta should be yielding, yet firm.
- Sauté crushed garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil, just until soft.
- Add shrimp to pan, cook just until pink, remove shrimp to a dish, set aside.
- Mix beans with some olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel seeds.
- In same pan, add beans. until heated through.
- Crumble feta.
- Toss pastas with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili pepper.
- Add tomatoes, beans.
- Top each serving with equal amount of shrimp and 1 tablespoon feta cheese.
- Cut a small x on top of each tomato.
- In shallow roasting pan or toss tomatoes in olive oil. Season with salt.
- Roast at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Turn at 20 minutes. The tomatoes will burst through their skins.
- You know they are done when they easily fall apart, and are caramelized. Don’t worry if some skins turn dark, just remove them. The tomatoes will have a rich, smokey flavor.