Friday, July 30, 2004
BAKED PENNE AND TOMATOES
No idea where I got this recipe. It’s easy, simple, almost plain. Call me a snotty foodie, but it seems only worth making in the summer, when you have fresh, red, ripe, meaty, in-season tomatoes from the farmer’s market or someone’s garden. I’ve tried it with supermarket tomatoes, and it turns out somewhat boring. On Wednesday night, with our good tomatoes, it was very tasty. When baked, the tomatoes turn unbelievably sweet and complex, a far cry from ordinary pasta sauce.
1 pound penne pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 pounds tomatoes, sliced
1-2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny bits
a big handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
a big handful of shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cook the penne in a large pot in abundant boiling water with about 1 tablespoon salt. While it's cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and rub a little olive oil over the inside of a 9x13 baking dish.
2. When the pasta is al dente, drain it. Pour half the pasta into the baking dish and toss it with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Top this with half of the tomato slices, laying them flat side by side so they cover all the pasta. Then add the rest of the pasta and toss it (carefully so as not to disturb the underlying tomatoes) with another tablespoon of oil and more salt and pepper. Top with the rest of the tomatoes, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top, and dab on the little bits/shavings of butter. Again with the salt and pepper to taste.
3. Put the dish in the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down a little but still maintain their shapes.
4. Remove dish from oven. Immediately sprinkle with basil and cheese, and toss everything together in the baking dish (although my dish was so full that it would have overflowed, so instead I just spooned the servings of pasta into serving/storage dishes and then added basil and cheese separately to each serving). Do one last taste test to check the seasoning—it’s important in this recipe, since the flavors are so basic—and maybe add a bit more pepper.
Time: I always forget to time myself. Maybe 45 minutes?