My spouse and I were at an airport in Peru when I ate one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. We were waiting for a connection flight and had time for a bite. The “Mediterranean Pasta” was simple, yet flavorful and burned in my memory. When we returned home, I tried making it on the stove, but it just wasn’t as savory. I figured I had to roast the tomatoes, but roasting can be a chore to clean. It wasn’t long before I discovered a way to make a dish reminiscent of the one I ate (and clean it fairly easily, too). Here’s how I make “Roasted Red Cherry Tomato Spaghetti.”
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Preparation Time, Servings, and Ingredients
- Preparation Time: 1 hour
- Servings: 4 to 6
- 2 pints of red cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 16 ounces of dry spaghetti
- Grated Parmesan cheese to taste
- Cut or torn basil leaves to taste
Preparing & Roasting the Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tomatoes in a colander and wash and drain. (Notes: Roasting at a lower temperature for a longer time should cook the tomatoes without burning them. Only red cherry tomatoes were used to capture the essence of this variety and color of tomato.)
Transfer the tomatoes to a baking dish, such as Anchor Ovenware, dress with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix all the contents evenly and transfer the dish to the oven.
Grating the Cheese, Heating the Pasta Water, and Mincing & Adding the Garlic
While the tomatoes are roasting, grate the cheese then transfer to a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator until serving time.
After several tomatoes have burst and are oozing, fill a pot with water for the pasta. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. (Note: It may seem as if there is no longer enough moisture for the tomatoes to continue cooking without burning, but the juices will add more moisture. Add salt to the pasta water, as desired.)
While the water is heating, mince the garlic. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and place it on the stove or a heat-resistant surface. Add the garlic to the tomatoes and stir them together with a spatula, scraping the bottom of the dish to loosen any hardened substances. Carefully return the dish to the oven. (Note: The garlic is added at this time rather than at the beginning to prevent it from burning.)
Cooking & Adding the Spaghetti
When the water in the pot is boiling, add the spaghetti whole – not broken. Cook the spaghetti until it is firm but tender then turn off the heat. (Notes: Whole spaghetti was used for cleaning, as well as flavor. Try a piece to check if it’s done.)
Again, using oven mitts, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and place it on the stove or a heat-resistant surface. Turn off the heat. With tongs, briefly drain the spaghetti over the pot and transfer it to the dish in about 4 turns. Using the spaghetti, mop up as much bits and sauce as possible. With a fork, mix all the contents evenly.
Serving Roasted Red Cherry Tomato Spaghetti
Transfer the mixture to bowls or plates and top each serving with Parmesan cheese and cut or torn basil leaves to taste (or 2 to 4 tablespoons each).
Just before enjoying “Roasted Red Cherry Tomato Spaghetti,” carefully pour pasta water from the pot to the baking dish, place the spatula, tongs, and fork in the dish, and allow this to sit until cooled and time to wash dishes.
Grate the cheese in advance of cooking to save time for other activities. Blocks or wedges of cheese usually provide more yield than pre-shredded cheese, and the extra cheese can be used for leftovers or fresh soups and salads.
Purchase tomato, garlic, and basil seeds or bulbs to plant, grow, and keep a supply nearby.
Try an infused extra virgin olive oil, such as white truffle, or a different hard cheese, such as Pecorino Romano, for variety.