Thursday, August 30, 2012
Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. I’ve written about them here, here, here and here. You’d think there’d be nothing much more to say or do.
But the other day I was - once again - going to make pasta with tomatoes. Rosa, my visiting mother-in-law, had brought up a big bag of orecchiette with her from Bari to Todi. Since they are very firm little shapes I knew they would stand up to the strong taste of roasted tomatoes. To which I usually add some sort of cheese, preferably ricotta salata.
But since Sophie and Emma are trying to avoid cheese these days (the lactose intolerant thing kicking in) I decided to go fishy instead.
Luckily, before heading up to Todi on August 1, I stopped by Eataly in Rome and loaded up on all sorts of canned fish to fill the summer pantry. Lovely tuna filets packed in olive oil, as well as cans of fatty ventresca. I also grabbed a half dozen tins of mackerel and sardines.
How could I resist the cute rooster-bedecked packaging?
So as I tossed the orecchiette with the browned and caramelized tomatoes (sorry I forgot to take a photo. See here), I also flipped in two tins of sardines.
My mother in law was a bit skeptical as I was dumping cans of fish onto her carefully carried, hand made, fresh orecchiette. “Cosi'? Senza fare niente?” Translation: Like that? Without doing anything to them?
All doubts faded away once she tasted the pasta. "Non e' male." Not bad.
From an Italian mother in law? That's more or less the equivalent of two Michelin stars.
Orecchiette with Roasted Tomatoes and Sardines
(serves 5-6 as first course)
1/2 kilo / 1 pound pasta (I used orecchiette, but you can use any other pasta)
1 kilo / 2 pounds fresh san marzano tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tsp dried oregano
dried red pepper
1 can good quality sardines
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 200C/ 400F
Slice tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Lay them on an oven sheet, in one layer, cut side facing up. (you may need two sheets)
Sprinkle with salt, red pepper, and oregano. Slip the sliced garlic into the tomatoes.
Drizzle liberally with olive oil. The more the better.
Place in oven and roast until tomatoes have begun to shrivel up and brown. About 45 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When tomatoes are almost done, boil pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a half cup of the water.
Place pasta in a large bowl, and scrape tomatoes onto pasta. Pour the hot pasta water into the pan, and use it to scrape up the bits of browned tomatoes and their juices. Put that on the pasta as well. Toss.
Add the sardines to the pasta, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add fresh basil and serve.