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Last of the cherry tomatoes pasta

Posted in Food & Entertaining

cherry tomatoes pasta

A week ago I finished the job that consumed most of my Summer and I had every intention of setting aside the first two weeks in October to sweet nothing: sightseeing with my mother, walks on the beach, sleeping late and cooking more. A little bit of a deserved vacation.

Now I am beginning to think 2015 has some sort of beef with me: why is it this year keeps on singling me out for all manners of unpleasant experiences? On my first day of vacation, I found myself battling the flu, the only good outcome of which was the shedding of the couple of pounds my mother’s cooking had contributed to my waistline. Just when I started feeling better, I had to confront another medical disaster that left me with even less appetite.

All I have been eating for the past week have been variations of toast and plain rice. Optimistically, I kept on loading my cart at the supermarket with vegetables that, once at home, I couldn’t even look at. But I was feeling bad about the last of the sweet cherry tomatoes I had planned to marry with some pasta.

cherry-tomatoes2Last week, on the phone with my sister, I could hear her boyfriend cooking in the background. I visualized my sister languidly sitting on the couch, dragging on a cigarette, while Giovanni slaved in the kitchen.

“What is he cooking?” I asked
“We are making…well, he is making” she corrected herself “past with cherry tomatoes.”

Giovanni is a very good cook and very proud of his recipes, which he loves to describe in detail. Through my sister, who would not relinquish the phone, he gave me the play by-play of this particular dish, which, like many dishes in Italian cuisine, is exquisitely simple and relies on the excellence of the two main ingredients: olive oil and cherry tomatoes.

For the first few years of living on my own, pasta with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella was a staple as there is no real cooking involved. But American mozzarella can be chewy and tasteless (and doesn’t melt right) and tomatoes are a hit and miss. A sure way of bringing the flavor to the forefront is to cook them ever so gently, until they start to break down and release some liquid which, mixed with a good, hearty olive oil, will create a perfect sauce.

Start by halving a basket of ripe cherry tomatoes, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and toss them with some good olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of oregano (or fresh basil).
Roast them in a 300F/170C oven for 40 minutes to an hour, until they start breaking down and release their juices.

In the meantime, boil some water, salt it and cook your pasta of choice. Once drained, toss the pasta with the tomatoes, their juices and some more olive oil. If you have some good mozzarella, this would be a good time to add it, cut up in small cubes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately with some good Parmesan, although this pasta is also good at room temperature.

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8 Comments

  1. I made this on Sunday. It was fantastic!!! Not only was it super easy and tasty, it made the house smell wonderful too. My husband is on a special diet at the moment, so he heated and added in some cooked black beans, which he said complemented the tomatoes and mozza very nicely.

    October 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      So glad you made it. It’s one of my go to recipes when I feel particularly lazy.

      October 18, 2015
      |Reply
  2. Will definitely try roasting the tomatoes. I’ve done it without the roasting and it was less than exciting.

    October 11, 2015
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      It really helps. Your regular garden variety cherry tomato found in supermarkets is pretty tasteless, and cooking it a bit releases the sugar. The problem with supermarket tomatoes in general is they get picked before they are ripe and they never get the chance to develop a decent flavor.

      October 12, 2015
      |Reply
  3. Hope you’re feeling better. This is a great dish if one can find good quality ingredients. On my latest trip to Italy, I was abhorred to find that most Italian supermarkets had tomatoes from a Dutch greenhouse. They aren’t bad, but I was hoping to find something better than at home.

    October 9, 2015
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You are so right. The fare at Esselunga, Coop or any of those big chains is really poor. Millions of ready to eat options and very sad looking fruits and vegs. When I was in Rome and Venice last I relied on open air markets. Much much better. But I did find that when it comes to salumi and cheese, supermarkets had pretty decent offerings.

      October 10, 2015
      |Reply
  4. Thank you Glenis. I will take all the good thoughts I can get, on every single continent.

    October 8, 2015
    |Reply
  5. Glenis
    Glenis

    Claudia – hope you managed to enjoy your cherry tomato pasta. Roy and I are thinking of you with much love. God Bless.

    October 8, 2015
    |Reply

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