October 25, 2013

Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta with Bacon, Onion and Red Wine

Oven roasted tomatoes
As you may be able to tell, I am having trouble letting go of tomato season...  This week I have experimented with oven roasting very large tomatoes.  We were kindly given two enormous tomatoes, one was bigger than both your fists- and I thought, these are amazing, but what do I do with them?  So, I sliced them thin and roasted them in the oven with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.  These never made it into any recipe because we ate them just like that (the baby girl helped).  Yum.  We ate them right off the baking sheet.  So, those were gone.  I went to the store and bought the largest tomatoes they had and these two lovely variations are how we ate them this week.  As a crostini topping with a creamy burrata cheese and as one of the main ingredients in a terrific (and easy) pasta dish.  Even my husband, who claims to not like tomatoes, really liked it.  To the tune of seconds.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
(for the pasta, you'll need 1-2 very large tomatoes, you can make more than that and use it for something else)
Very large tomatoes (as ripe as possible, do not refrigerate, leave on your counter)
olive oil
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit.  Use a baking sheet with sides (also known as a jelly roll pan).  Coat the sheet with olive oil.  Rinse the tomatoes, then slice them into 1/4 inch wide slices, removing any stem portions.  Place as close together as possible (they shrink while cooking) on the baking sheet.  Top with more olive oil and sprinkle with a good amount of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  To give you an idea, 3 very large tomatoes filled a large baking sheet, and the total amount of olive oil was probably 2-3 Tbsp and the amount of salt was probably 1 to 1 1/2 tsp.  The amount of black pepper was less than the salt.  Place in the oven and bake for 2 hours.  My oven is uneven and runs a little hot, so I turned the sheet around half way through to make it more even.  If you find you need a little more time because your oven is more true to temperature, that is ok.

Tomatoes before oven roasting
When they are finished, they will look very withered and should have some areas that are browned.  It's ok if some areas of the flesh are still somewhat raw looking, but this should only be a small percentage.  If it's a lot, put them back in the oven for a little while and keep an eye on them.  I make these and then refrigerate them until I need them.

Here they are as a topping to a ball of burrata cheese with some crostini, (made from day old baguette, sliced, a little olive oil poured over them, and put in the oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes).  A good way to use day old baguette!

Oven roasted tomatoes over burrata with crostini
Now, on to the pasta!  I always have bacon and yellow onions.  Always.  They are staples in my kitchen.  Sometimes it's pancetta instead of bacon, but there is little difference between the two- only that pancetta is more dry cured than American bacon.  The cut of meat and largely the preparation of the two is the same.  Oh, and pancetta is round, where American bacon is not.  But otherwise, not a ton of difference.

Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta with Bacon, Onion and Red Wine
(Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 mildly hungry people, adjust as necessary)
4-6 pieces of bacon
1 medium to large yellow onion
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes
1-2 oven roasted tomatoes (see recipe above in this post)
1/4 cup red wine
1-2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1/2 box pasta (we used mini shells- use something with a similar cup shape to catch portions of the sauce)

The most time intensive part of this recipe is the browning of the bacon and the onion.  But, this can be done with only occasionally stirring.  So, if you need to play costume party sword fight or blanket town with a little one while you do this, you can!  I use a round dutch oven for this, I like the even heating of the enameled cast iron.  Turn on the stove to low to medium heat.  Cut the bacon in small, 1/2 inch pieces and place them in the pot, no need to add any fat or oil, bacon brings its own to the party!  Let the bacon start to cook while you cut the onion into small pieces, doesn't have to be incredibly fine, but pretty small.  After the bacon has started to brown, add the olive oil and then the onion.  Stir occasionally, but let this get pretty brown and caramelize a little.  This is more of a visual cue than a time cue.

Once it's nice and browned, start heating up your water for your pasta.  I've been really liking the Barilla white fiber pastas lately, not only because they have more fiber than regular pasta, but they actually cook significantly faster than regular pasta, anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes.  That's a win-win!  Barilla White Fiber Pasta  So while your water is heating up, add the red pepper flakes to the bacon and onion.  Take the oven roasted tomatoes, 1-2 tomatoes originally, which looks like a significantly smaller amount now, and chop them, fairly small.  Add to the bacon and onion mixture.  Allow them to incorporate and heat up for a few minutes with the mixture.  If your water is boiling, add salt, then your pasta.

Oven roasted tomatoes, chopped

While the pasta is cooking, stir your sauce and add the 1/4 cup of wine.  Some thoughts on wine here- fall is a time in our house when I go through an amazing amount red wine in my cooking.  It's just the right time of year for meats braised in red wine, rich sauces and gravies enhanced with red wine...  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...  Anyhow, it's gotten to the point where we need to come up with a bit of a solution- so my husband discovered Bota Box.  It's the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine, it's in a box with a dispenser like a cooler, and it is supposed to last (once it's open) and stay fresh for a month.  (He laughed that it won't likely last a month with the rate of pot roasts, lamb stews, pasta sauces and other things that come out of our kitchen!)  Anyhow, so far so good, and it isn't bad to drink, either!  Bota Box

Cooking wine solution!

By now, your red wine should have mostly evaporated from the sauce and your pasta should be done.  Using a slotted spoon or pasta utensil, just simply move the pasta into the pot with the sauce.  Do not worry at all if some of the water comes too- a little bit of water from the pasta is actually a great thing to make the sauce come together and get a little creamier.  Stir to incorporate the pasta and the sauce, add the parmesan, watch it just melt into the dish and disappear.  Enjoy!  We enjoyed this with a lovely mixed green salad with a simple balsamic and white cracked pepper dressing and some good quality olive oil.  I also had some wine from the Bota Box!  It was a lovely end to a lovely day.

Seconds, please!
Thank you for reading!

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