August 24, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Prosciutto

The June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit featured a pasta recipe that looked pretty good.  The recipe called for baking cherry tomatoes for several hours at low heat to intensify and concentrate, their flavors, making a quick sauce by crushing and boiling some more tomatoes, and adding seasonings and the baked tomatoes befoe stirring in the pasta.  I've thought about making that recipe for awhile now (ever since I read the issue, really), but ultimately I decided to use some ideas from the recipe to make something quite different of my own.

I used a mix of cherry and grape tomatoes from our garden for this recipe.  Our tomato plants have been giving us more tomatoes than we've been able to keep up with, so this recipe provided a good opportunity to use some of that bounty.  The basil and chili peppers were also from our garden.   I used two fresh chilis and one garden-grown, dried one. 

This pasta turned out to be wonderfully delicious.  Cooking the nearly-done pasta with the sauce and some of the reserved pasta water resulted in the finished pasta having absorbed a lot of the flavors and being well-coated by the sauce.  Roasting the tomatoes really did concentrate and sweeten their flavor.  The chili peppers gave the dish just a bit of bite, while the proscuitto and Parmigiano-Reggiano added a savory element and more depth of flavor.  All in all, this made for a very satisfying meal.   It does take a bit of time to roast the tomatoes, but you needn't pay much attention to the oven during that time, and the effort is well worth it for this delicious a dish.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Prosciutto

yield = 4 servings

6            cups cherry or grape tomatoes
3            tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1            large pinch kosher salt
1            tablespoon table salt
2            small onions, finely chopped
3            fresh or dried red chili peppers, finely minced
3            ounces thin-sliced prosciutto, chopped
2            teaspoons minced garlic
1/2         teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
12          ounces spaghetti (or other pasta of choice)
3/4         cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1            cup fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.   Place two cups of tomatoes in an 8x8x2" glass baking dish.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, stir and sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt.  Roast, stirring occasionally for 4-5 hours.

Heat a pot of water and one tablespoon table salt to boiling.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and chilis.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and starting to brown.   Add prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until slightly crisped.  Stir in garlic and black pepper, cook 1 minute, then add the remaining 4 cups of tomatoes.  Cook, stirring frequently and mashing tomatoes with a potato masher, until the sauce has thickened and little liquid remains.  Stir in the roasted tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until not quite done per package instructions.  Reserve 2 cups pasta water, then drain the pasta.   Add the pasta and half of the grated Parmesan to the skillet with the tomato mixture.  Add 1/2 cup pasta water and cook, stirring often, until the pasta is done to desired tenderness.

Transfer to a serving bowl.   Add and stir in basil and top with the remaineder of the cheese.  Serve.

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