Sunday Paper Dinner Table: Pasta with Cherry Tomato “Candy”
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Meaningful Conversation Starter
What is one of your happiest memories in the kitchen or at the table? What made it so special?
Pasta with Cherry Tomato “Candy”
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 6 hours (mostly inactive!)
- 2 pints (800 grams) cherry tomatoes, stems removed
- 1⁄4 cup (60 milliliters) extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
- Fine sea salt
- 1 pound (450 grams) short pasta, such as penne, farfalle, rigatoni, or orecchiette
- 3 ounces (85 grams) freshly grated Parmesan, to yield about 1 cup grated (look for Reggiano from Italy — it’s extra delicious!)
- 16 fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 225°F/105°C. Set an oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parch- ment paper.
2. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat, then add sugar and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and gently toss again to coat. Use your hands, but don’t squish the tomatoes — be gentle! Spread the tomatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer and place in the oven on the middle rack. Every 30 minutes or so, jiggle the tomatoes to make sure they’re not sticking and rotate the pan 180 degrees to keep the tomatoes from cooking unevenly. Roast until the tomatoes are semi-dried and shriveled and start to taste like CANDY, about 5 hours.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make the water taste pretty salty (about 1 heap- ing tablespoon fine sea salt to 7 quarts water). Add pasta, stir, and cook until it is just under al dente, 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta.
4. In a large bowl, combine pasta, tomatoes, Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Tear basil leaves into pasta in large pieces. Stir everything together, and if needed, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water to help the cheese and basil cling to the pasta. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt as needed, and serve immediately, with more Parmesan!
Variations and substitutions:
• Try Asiago, Pecorino-Romano, or Ricotta Salata instead of Parmesan.You could also use feta (I love sheep milk feta!) or dollops of fresh ricotta.
• If you don’t have time to slow-roast the tomatoes, raise the oven temperature to 350° F/ 175°C. Skip the sugar (it will burn at the higher temperature) and toss the tomatoes with only olive oil and salt. Roast as directed until shriveled and just starting to split, about 45 minutes.Tomatoes cooked at this tempera- ture won’t hold their shape in the pasta and they won’t be quite as sweet (that is, they won’t be quite so candy-like), but they will still be delicious!
• If you don’t have short pasta on hand, feel free to use any long shape, such as spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine! It’s just a lot more fun to try to get a tomato and a little piece of pasta on your fork at the same time!
• Also, since it takes so much time to make the tomato candy, this is a great recipe to double, or even triple in the summer when you’ve got lots of tomatoes around!You can put any extra tomato candy in a glass jar, cover the tomatoes with olive oil, and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Or, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid and then pack into freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months.
Originally from the Netflix series Waffles + Mochi. Printed with permission.