Friday, March 18, 2011

My New Favorite Dinner

I know you have heard this story before.

"This is on my top 10 list". "This is the best thing I have ever eaten". "This is my favorite cake in the world".

I have been known to get excited over food, but when I say it, I really mean it.
This truly is my new favorite dinner (well, in the pasta category, anyway).

It was a result of a happy accident. I was going away for the weekend and I like to clean out the fridge. I had 8 Roma (plum shape) tomatoes that were about to go bad, so instead of tossing them, I created this beautiful dish.

I was inspired by a FABULOUS cookbook called My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino. I have been reading so much about this cookbook on so many Italian American blogs and after putting it in my wish list cart on amazon, I finally bought it.

It is a beautiful book all about the forgotten cooking from the Southern region of Italy known as Calabria.
Calabria is located South of Naples at the "toe" of the boot.

The people of Calabria made do with whatever they could grow, since nothing came in or out of their small region. They knew how to live from the land.

They are surrounded by coastline and swordfish is their main catch, they even have a swordfish festival during the season and there are a dozen fantastic swordfish recipes included in this book.

They make their own salumi, cheeses and even wine. Tomatoes, figs, hot peppers and cauliflower are their main vegetables/fruits and there are a lot of beautiful recipes in this book using these regional ingredients. The history of the land and people are written about beautifully throughout the book, and I am in love with it.
I plan on making a lot of recipes from this book once summer is upon us.

This recipe is called "Cavatelli con Pomodori Gratinati al Forno" but I used penne.

This is such a simple recipe, but it tastes like you went to a lot of trouble.

If you don't want to serve these gorgeous baked tomatoes gratin over pasta (why break these beauties up with a wooden spoon?), then serve them as a side dish or on their own. They are that good.

Pasta w/ Roasted Tomatoes & Breadcrumbs: (inspired by My Calabria)

1/2 lb. penne or cavatelli (8 oz.)
8 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
kosher salt & olive oil
2/3 cup fresh garlic breadcrumbs (recipe below)


2 slices of bread from a stale baguette, rustic bread, or brioche (whatever you like)
3 Tbsp fresh minced flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
3 Tbsp freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese

Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. You can now freeze them in ziploc bags for future use.
*(I like to make a batch of fresh breadcrumbs and freeze them so I always have them on hand. I make a batch with cheese and garlic and one batch without. They stay in the freezer for months).

Add the herbs, garlic and cheese to the breadcrumbs and mix together. Set aside.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and lay them in a roasting pan or on a foil lined baking sheet.
Drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Spoon some of the prepared garlic breadcrumbs on top of each tomato and pat down the crumbs with your hands.

Roast the tomatoes in a 450F oven for about 20-25 minutes until they are bubbly and golden on top. They will smell gorgeous.

You can slip the skins off before you roast them by blanching the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds and the skins will come right off, but I skip this step and remove the skins after I roast them. (I hate dirtying another pot, what can I say).
You can leave the tomato skins on if you like, but they do get stuck in your teeth.

While still warm, break up the tomatoes just a bit with a wooden spoon. This will be your sauce.

Cook the pasta in salted water according to directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the pomodori gratinati (practicing my means the tomatoes w/ breadcrumbs) to the pasta and coat the pasta with some sauce.

Serve immediately. Pass extra cheese if you like.



My Carolina Kitchen said...

These lovely tomatoes look very much like what our family calls Tomatoes Provencale. I never thought to serve them with pasta. No wonder this is your new favorite dinner Stacey.

Have fun on your weekend trip.

Steve said...

Can't wait to try this. I love to roast fresh tomatoes for a quick pasta dish. But the addition of the bread crumbs will be a bonus.

Melissa @IWasBornToCook said...

I made something similar not too long ago...they're soooo good. Plus, my husband doesn't eat peppers, so I'm always getting my stuffed pepper fix by stuffing other things :)

Anonymous said...

This dish looks wonderful, and I'm ordering the cookbook from my library. I know how much you love prancing around any arrondisment available, but I think your heart belongs to THE BOOT!

The Japanese Redneck said...

I roast romas with the parmasian on them all the time and just eat them like candy.

Kate said...

Beautiful tomatoes...I wouldn't have thought to combine them with pasta. I can hardly wait for tomatoes on our delicious.

kat said...

Oh wow, over pasta?! how great

Joanne said...

Oh wow, the stuffing in those tomatoes sounds delicious! I love the idea of eating from the land and I wish our culture were more like that. I can see why this is a new favorite of yours!

Michele said...

I never would have thought of breaking these up and making them into a sauce. What a great idea! They look perfect!

Julie said...

What a wonderful way to enjoy tomatoes...I know I would devour these!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Love that cookbook- love tomatoes that way, especially when they're fresh from the garden. You make me yearn for summer.

Elia@FeedYourSister said...

This looks great, and besides the pasta, which I can still have in's a great weight watcher friendly recipe!! Love it and will def try it soon!

Carole said...

I love roasted tomatoes. I'll have to look for the cookbook.

Anonymous said...

WOW...this is a "keeper" in my recipe collection Stacey! Just last summer discovered how wondeful roasted tomatoes are (only took me 57 yrs.!) so I can't wait to try this recipe! :)
Your "Maine" friend,
Wanda D.

Dana said...

Looks gorgeous Stace. I wonder - even good with the pathetic state of tomatoes these days? I'm starving looking at this!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love that book too, if I could find some decent tomatoes with some flavor I would make this ASAP!

Margaret said...

Grazie for this simple delicious recipe Stacey! And penne is my favorite pasta :)Now I'm thinkng, I must have this cookbook lol!
Adoring food too,
Margaret from B.C.

miranda said...

Hi Stacey, Thanks for giving us a summer dish. Here in Melbourne our summer is at an end, but we still have lots of tomatoes in our garden. Will definetly try this dish.

tasteofbeirut said...

This dish would be my favorite as well; I will make it for sure. One of these days, I am going to explore more of Italy and visit Liguria and Calabria and Tuscany and all of it...