Pasta with Roasted Romas
During the summer, it is easier to get fresh tomatos, especially if you shop locally and you can definately use those instead. The rest of the time, most supermarket tomatoes are a scary pink-with-green-stripes color better suited for Mattel than fresh vegetables. However roma tomatoes (more long than perfectly round) tend to be ripe and lucious most of the year. They also tend to be good troopers about staying fresh in the crisper until you get around to using them. This recipe is equally hardy, you can change most anything about it and it still comes out great!
10 ripe roma tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 bunch of curl leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2-3 tbs. olive oil
¼ cup good grated Parmesan cheese plus more for the table
32 ounces of whole wheat or GI friendly pasta…. Spaghetti noodles, bow-ties, rotini, shells, whatever you have on hand
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
This recipe can be cut in half, to serve a smaller group.
Cut roma tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cover an 11×9 inch baking dish or jelly roll pan covered in tin foil…the roasting will make quite a mess of your pan, and this makes clean up MUCH easier. If all you have to use is a cookie sheet, use the tinfoil to make edges around all four sides…. About ¼ of an inch high. That way all the juices that cook out won’t spill into the oven. Place de-seeded tomatoes cut side up in the pan.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add onions and sauté for about 2 minutes. This is more olive oil than you would normally use when sautéing, but you want a little extra to be scooped into each tomato. It keeps the tomatoes from burning too crispy and brings out their natural flavor. When onions start to become translucent and fragrant, add garlic and parsley and continue to cook, stirring periodically for about another 5 minutes. When the onions are completely translucent, the parsley wilted, and the garlic just beginning to brown, remove the pan from the heat.
Stuff the sautéed onion mixture into the hollows where you scooped out the tomato seeds. Place pan in oven on the middle rack and bake for 30-35 minutes, until all the juices run out and the tomatoes are crispy around the edges. At the same time you put the tomatoes in the oven, start the water boiling for the pasta. When the water is at a full rolling boil, add the pasta and a little bit more olive oil (to help keep the water from boiling over and the pasta from sticking together in clumps). If the pasta gets finished before the tomatoes, drain it off, but don’t rinse (the starches on the pasta is what makes the sauce cling so well) and return it to the pot off the heated burner and it should stay warm until the tomatoes are done.
When the tomatoes are finished roasting, place them in the bottom of your serving dish (along with the juices that has boiled off in the pan) and smash them up a bit with the back of your serving fork. Add the pasta and toss well. Sprinkle the entire dish with Parmesan cheese. If you want a neat presentation, reserve a few of the prettier tomatoes from smashing and set them on top of the tossed pasta, or reserve one tomato half from each plate if you are serving from the kitchen
Easily serves four with leftovers for lunch.
Variations: Other than the tomatoes and the pasta (which are kind of hard to work around)…. You can make most any ingredient substitution and have it turn out lovely so long as you have something to stuff into the tomatoes. Dry herbs work fine instead of fresh. Besides parsley, you can use oregano, basil, or a bouquet garni mix. If you don’t have any fresh garlic and onion, you can sauté some bread crumbs in olive oil with the herbs and some garlic and onion powder (not salt!). Cook them until they are golden brown and stuff the tomatoes with that mixture instead. You can also stuff the tomatoes with any store bought or homemade pesto…you don’t need any extra olive oil or herbs since the pesto has all of that already in it!