Anyone Can Make This

April 22nd, 2013 · 27 Comments · Pasta, Quick, Vegetarian

I should qualify that a bit. When I say that “anyone” can make this, I suppose I should point out — before the haters do — that not just “anyone” would be able to figure out how to invert his or her wrist in a way that helps distribute a container of grape tomatoes onto a baking sheet. This technique, also known as “dumping,” involves a slight acceleration of the wrist, which helps direct the tomatoes onto the baking sheet and not flying across the kitchen at an errant trajectory. Oh…I guess it’s presumptuous of me to assume that pretty much “anyone” is going to own a piece of equipment as arcane as a “baking sheet.” For those of you who don’t own one, and who don’t live near a grocery store (a place where food and cooking miscellany is sold), I’m sorry. This recipe is probably not for you. Nor is it for anyone who has yet to master water boiling. Or pepper mill grinding. Or who hasn’t yet figured out how to transform a hard block of Parmesan cheese into snowy shreds, a technique known by many in the professional food world as “grating.”

But for everyone else in search of a quick dinner on a weeknight? This one’s for you.

Penne with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
This recipe changes for us based on what kind of night it is. If you have some time, I advise slow-cooking the tomatoes for an hour and a half at 300°F. This results in blistered, concentrated tomatoes that fall apart beautifully when mixed into the pasta. If it’s a weeknight and you only have 30 minutes or so, proceed as directed.

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1 16-ounce container of grape tomatoes (or however many you’ve got)
1 small onion, chopped roughly (ok, I admit, a little skill involved here, but minimal!)
4 tablespoons olive oil
a shake of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt & pepper
a sprig of thyme, leaves removed (optional)
1 pound penne pasta (I like the ridged kind, penne rigate, or orecchiette)
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 350°F. Dump tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet lined with foil. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves and toss with your fingers or a spoon. (Do this gently so you don’t rip the foil.) Bake for 25-30 minutes until tomatoes look shrivelly and brown but not burnt.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. When draining, reserve a ¼ cup of pasta water. Place pasta pot back on burner over low heat and add butter and remaining olive oil.

Add penne back to the pot and toss with tomato-onion mixture and cheese. If it’s looking gloppy or sticky, add a little reserved pasta water to loosen.

Serve with additional grated Parm. If you are feeling indulgent, a dollop of ricotta is gonna be pretty excellent.

The post-roast. See how easy?

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27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Leslie // Apr 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

    We eat this once a week in the summer at my house, although I would eat it every night if I could get away with it. We top it with lots of fresh basil. Perfection.

  • 2 Francie // Apr 22, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Yes! I can’t wait for Virginia tomatoes to come into season…this is even better when your tomatoes are picked right in your own backyard.

  • 3 Janet @Rainbow Plate // Apr 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I had the wisdom to slow roast a half bushel of plum tomatoes last summer when they were at their peak, and I’ve still got some left in the freezer. Definitely going to use them to make this tonight!

  • 4 A Life From Scratch // Apr 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

    This topped with ricotta, parm, and basil ribbons – nothing better!

  • 5 Erin // Apr 22, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    We make this all the time but we halve the tomatoes first and use goat cheese instead of Parmesan. Never thought about roasting onions too. Will have to try it!

  • 6 Maureen // Apr 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Spread some parmesan and bread crumbs over the tomatoes before roasting too – so good!

  • 7 Meena // Apr 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve been making something very similar to this at least once each week since the last month. Cherry tomatoes have been on sale here and I love the sweet tartness that comes with roasting them. A definite comforting crowd pleaser!

  • 8 Sarab P // Apr 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    We like this with cut up brie cheese tossed in so it just starts to melt but stays together.

  • 9 Patty // Apr 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Loving that potholder! My supply is all worn out. Stock up while your kids are young!

  • 10 Row // Apr 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Wah, I used the last of my grape tomatoes yesterday. On the bright side, I have an excuse to buy some more. Thanks for this recipe! :)

  • 11 Liv @ Life As Liv // Apr 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I’m all about easy, quick meals and this looks like the easiest of them all! Plus, it combines tomatoes and pasta…my favs. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • 12 megan // Apr 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I love easy meals like this! It looks delicious too.

  • 13 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // Apr 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    I do this and use angel hair pasta :) It’s just the best. Love the idea of throwing roasted onions into the mix…

  • 14 Nina // Apr 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    We’ve been oven roasting cherry tomatoes a lot lately too. I can’t seem to get enough of them. Great as a snack or with appetizers. Try halving them before roasting for a different texture.

  • 15 Cathy // Apr 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Made this tonight and it was wonderful! Thank you!

  • 16 Sally // Apr 23, 2013 at 6:04 am

    This is almost a pantry meal for me because I almost always have everything needed on hand.

  • 17 Diana @CulinaryBiblio // Apr 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

    You have impeccable timing. I have just been given 8 hours notice that I need to make an entree for an Italian themed dinner for the teachers at my sons preschool. This is what I’m making – you rock!

  • 18 Jen // Apr 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I have a great recipe that involves doing exactly this (but adding balsamic vinegar to the baking sheet), then taking it another step by pureeing the whole mess after it’s roasted. Then I like to add some chicken sausage and manchego cheese to the dish at the end. Or I bet pancetta or plain old bacon would be nice too.

  • 19 Sue // Apr 23, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Made last night with my tired tomatoes and a red pepper that had seen better days. Soooo yummy. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • 20 Laura // Apr 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I make something very similar but I use a mix of all kinds of tomatoes, varying in size, taste and color. I also add fresh basil just before serving.

  • 21 Shannon // Apr 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    This looks delicious. I normally keep homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer but this would be great, especially when we run out of frozen sauce!

  • 22 Meghan // Apr 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Slow-roasting the tomatoes is a great idea… and a perfect reason to have a late dinner by candlelight on a weekday!

  • 23 Stephanie // Apr 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I made this last night and added some fresh arugula from my CSA when I tossed the pasta. Yum! Thanks for the wonderful dinner (and lunch today).

  • 24 Nicole // Apr 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    And the tomatoes freeze, so double them and have half of dinner waiting for another night! Or to throw on pizza, or to make into sauce, or to put on a salad…

  • 25 Charlotte // Apr 25, 2013 at 12:54 am

    I love the idea but the rest of my family eaters won’t or can’t eat tomatoes…sigh.

  • 26 Lisa // May 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    This was so yummy and easy! I think that little bit of butter at the end made the dish something special!

  • 27 Laurie // May 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I’m making this right now while having working lunch @ home. I added 2 chopped cloves of garlic. My kitchen is starting to smell amazing! It reminds me of the “onion trick”. Now combined with the tomato & garlic trick. Thanks Jenny

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