Saturday, September 3, 2011

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

Remember how I was complaining last week about how busy I was?

Yeah, right.  I had no idea what the future held ...

I really didn't think I would get this post together in time, but here's the thing:  no matter how busy you are, you have to eat.  Or, at least, I do.  (I'm not one of those people who "forgets" lunch ....)

Anywho, after my Friday classes ended, I hauled my behind into my little Scion and shuffled off to the Kroger, desperate as much for dinner as for something to make for the blog.  And, lo, cherry tomatoes were on sale.


Notice the healthy basil in the midst of the weeds and dead leaves ... thank you, Mother Nature

Despite the wicked heat and drought, we have been enjoying a bumper crop of volunteer basil in our earth boxes.  (I actually planted some last year but was too lazy this spring ... thankfully, Mother Nature had my back.)  Fresh basil + cherry tomatoes + exhausted Wendy = Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil.

This is a recipe based on one from Cooks Illustrated.  The beautiful thing is that you can make it all year long (even sketchy cherry tomatoes will taste delish after they've been roasted).  The even more beautiful thing about this recipe is that the sauce makes itself in the oven.  So throw the tomatoes in the oven, boil the pasta, mix ... and voila!

So keep an eye out for those sale tomatoes (or hit your local farmer's market), and take an evening off without sacrificing your dinner.

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

1 pound penne

2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (+ 1 Tbs. for pasta water)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

shredded parmesan, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Halve the tomatoes.  Toss gently with oil, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, red pepper, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.  Spread the tomatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet, and roast 35 to 40 minutes (until tomatoes shrivel a bit, but don't let them turn to mush).


Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package direction.  Drain pasta.  Return to pot.  Scrape the cooked tomatoes and juices into the pot, sprinkle with the basil, and toss gently.

Serve topped with parmesan.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. HUH... I just roasted a batch of cherry tomatoes for a pizza topping, low and slow, about 4 hours in a 250 oven... came out shriveled but candy sweet!

    have some left and would make a great addition to your pasta!

  2. We have bumper crops of cherry tomatoes in the markets and roadside stands here (and some on my deck, but we eat those like candy). When I showed it to my husband, his eyes lit up. We are dropping from humid weather in the high eighties to low sixties this weekend. This will be perfect. Thanks, Wendy!

  3. I love that you roasted the tomatoes, Wendy. Roasting always seems to bring out the best in veggies, plus, I'm lazy enough to love putting things in the oven so I can ignore them. This sounds like a wonderful dinner!

    ~ Krista

  4. Oh Dave ... I love the low and slow roast, too. I use roma tomatoes drizzled with a smidge of olive oil and lightly dusted with salt, sugar, and either thyme or rosemary. (And, like you said, about 4 hours in a 250 oven ... or, if you have a gas oven, you can just leave them in the oven overnight with nothing but the pilot.) They make great toppings for crostini or pizza or filling for sandwiches ... yum!!

    This higher/faster method produces juicier tomatoes and keep the pasta moist (and they're not quite as sweet).

  5. Now I know what to do with my basil in the garden! Thanks for this tasty idea, Wendy. :)

  6. I love this easy peasy recipe. I'm adding this to my collection.

  7. What a great way to use up all your tomato and basil you have left in your garden. Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. Wendy, one of my all-time favorite meals! Yum. Fresh and fresher.