Lidia Bastianich’s Pasta with Baked Cherry Tomatoes
Goodness, I did not expect my first Lidia pasta to be this good.
As in, immediately one of Nat’s absolute favourites of all time and better than my abbriata which until then was the favourite of all time!
It’s much more than a baked cherry tomato pasta.
It’s all that garlic, fried and then fast boiled in the pasta water; the subsequent frying off of the parsley. The basil. The chilli, The parmesan.
And the addition of the ricotta adding all that creaminess.
Hats off Lidia. Your book will be revisited imminently
1.5kg cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt, plus more for the pasta pot
1/4 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
500gm spaghetti, gemelli or penne*
10 plump garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 c loosely packed basil leaves, shredded
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan
- Heat the oven to 180c. Toss the cherry tomato halves in a large bowl with 3 tbsp of the olive oil. Sprinkly over the breadcrumbs, salt and chilli flakes and toss well to coat the tomatoes evenly. Pour the tomatoes onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and spread them apart in a single layer. Use a second tray if necessary. Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightely caramelised (though not dried out), about 25 minutes in all.
- Meanwhile, fill a large pot with salted water and heat to a rolling boil. When the tomatoes are nearly done, drop the pasta into the pot, stir and cook.
- As soon as the pasta is cooking, pour the remaining olive oil into a big skillet, set over a medium-high heat and scatter in the sliced garlic. Cook for a minute or two, until it is sizzling and lightly coloured, then ladle in about 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, and bring to a vigorous boil, stirring up the garlic. Let half the water evaporate**, stir in the chopped parsley, and keep the sauce barely simmering.
- As soon as the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven.
- When the pasta is al dente, lift it from the water, drain for a moment, and drop it into the skillet, still over the low heat. Toss the pasta quickly with the garlic-and-parsley sauce in the pan, then slide in the baked tomatoes on top of the pasta. Scatter the basil shreds all over, toss everything together well, until the pasta is evenly dressed and the tomatoes are distributed throughout. Turn off the heat, sprinkle on the grated parmesan, and toss once more.
- Mound the pasta in a warmed serving bowl. Shred the ricotta all over the top of the pasta and serve immediately.
* When our builder looks after our house when we are away, he always leaves some damn fine Italian staples he picks up in Five Dock, Sydney. Quite the foodie. Anyway, we used a beautiful packet of spaghettini and it was just lovely.
** I did not read this right and cooked it right down before adding the parsley. Worked, though you can’t go wrong with pasta water in pasta so go with Lidia’s instruction here.