Nobody says tomat-oh

by CSWSmovie

When you read a lot of food blogs, and food books, and food writing in general, you start to realize that there is a universally common thread between many of these writers:  the I-have-not-really-lived-before sentiments that come after eating slow-roasted tomatoes for the first time. (See here and here, for starters.) Considering how much I love tomatoes (and in general, food that comes out of the oven) it took a surprising amount of time – two years, in fact! – before I finally bought myself a pound of Romas and got to work.

I wasn’t planning on writing about this endeavor, especially with so much already written about it. But I do have to say this:
Toast a piece of sourdough bread. Place a slow-roasted tomato on top, followed by a few slivers of basil and a drop of your best, fruitiest olive oil. Relocate to your favorite spot in your house, one that is preferably quiet, and eat. Do it. Just trust me. You really haven’t lived until you do.

There’s no real recipe for slow-roasting – simply halve about a dozen Roma tomatoes, which are available all year round, and toss with a tablespoon or less of olive oil. Place cut side up on a large baking sheet, and add a pinch of sea salt (and ground coriander, like she does here and which I did last night) and place in a oven that is warmed to only 200 degrees. Some people scatter garlic cloves around, some people add thyme and other herbs to the tomatoes, but many others just add salt, which is honestly all you really need. Let them roast in your oven for at least 4 hours, and try to not eat them all at once.

But now, back to the original-scheduled recipe – a beautiful tomato sauce that’s a perfect way to liven up your summer pasta. This weekend, with its high of 86 degree weather, was one of those almost-summer summer periods, despite the calendar insisting that it’s only the start of May. We sat at new (to us) outdoor cafes and drank iced lattes and coffee and sandwiches, before meandering over to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden where the Cherry Blossom festival was being celebrated. We talked about buying cameras and new jobs, about bees and finding the perfect shade. We drank iced mint teas and orange-wheat beers outside, until we eventually ambled home, the sun still hovering.

It was in this sort of summery mood that I purchased a pint of golden cherry tomatoes to make a sauce similar to this one. There’s nothing profound about this recipe – it is your basic combination of tomatoes, basil, and Italian seasonings – but the insane sweetness of these yellow tomatoes brought this sauce into a whole different realm. If you can find the yellow variety, buy them – they are sweeter than their red counterparts, and make a beautiful color dish.

Linguini with Golden Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

3/4 lb linguini
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cups golden cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons tomato paste (about half of a small can)
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, as much as your heart desires

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the linguini until it is al dente (just barely undercooked – the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce). Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion first, and then the garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly soft (don’t let the garlic brown). Add the halved cherry tomatoes and cook 3-4 minutes. Add tomato paste, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the linguini, and some of the grated cheese o the skillet and toss to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until heated through and pasta is perfectly al dente and the sauce is at the consistency that you like. Serve with more cheese and a glass of white wine, if desired.