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 Italian....it means the tomatoes w/ breadcrumbs) to the pasta and coat the pasta with some sauce.
Serve immediately. Pass extra cheese if you like.