Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Mondays: Slow-Roasted Tomato Pasta

Here's a meal that takes quite a bit of time to prepare, with hardly any effort put forth. The hardest thing required of you to do is wait around while you smell the slow-roasting tomatoes and wonder how much more you can stand! I found the recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomato Pasta in Cooking Light and knew it would be on my dinner table eventually; it just looked too good, and too easy, to pass up.

To roast the tomatoes, you simply cut them in half (or quarters), seed them, and let them roast in the oven at a lower temperature for 4 hours. The tomatoes get unbelievably sweet and tender; the flavors become intense and concentrated and wonderful. I highly recommend cooking tomatoes this way sometime; it's worth all that time in the oven.

To finish the meal, you saute some garlic in a skillet, then add crushed red pepper and the reserved tomatoes. A splash of pasta cooking liquid is added, then the mixture reduces slightly before being combined with the pasta noodles. Toss well, add a sprinkle of basil and Parmesan cheese, and you've got delicious simplicity at its finest! All that, and it's vegetarian!

Slow-Roasted Tomato Pasta
adapted from Cooking Light
makes 6 servings

3 lbs. plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 whole peeled garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
12 oz. uncooked long-cut pasta
dried basil, to taste
shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and the black pepper. Bake for 4 hours.

2. Heat a large skillet over low heat. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and the garlic; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic, and chop. Combine garlic, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper in pan.

3. Cook pasta in boiling water with 1 1/2 tsp. salt until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium-high under the tomato mixture, and stir in the reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes. Add pasta; cook for 1 minute, tossing to combine. Remove from heat; transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle basil and cheese on top, if desired.

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