Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Orecchiette With Almost-Fresh Tomato and Herb Sauce

Every year at this time I find myself wanting to put as much "summer" on the table as possible.  When it comes to tomatoes, I measure each dish's ability to possibly utilize the grocery store tomatoes of winter.  While I think this one might hold up, I know it won't be as good.  Therefore, we are going to enjoy it several more times before these little tomato "gems" disappear from the local market.  This is a simple, almost fresh, sauce that depends on fresh herbs to make it shine.  It is easily doubled (just don't double the roasting time).  The slight release of the tomato juices mixed with the olive oil and last minute addition of fresh lemon juice creates the perfect sauce.  It is best served at room temperature and will tote well to a late summer picnic.

 Orecchiette (little ears) is a bowl-shaped pasta that is excellent for capturing sauces.  If it isn't available, try the small sea-shell pasta or a short tubular pasta.

Cherry Tomato and Fresh Herb Sauce for Pasta

1 pint of mixed cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Fresh basil leaves
Lemon, juice and a grating of zest
Sea salt

Orecchiette, or pasta of your choice, prepared according to package directions.  I used about 5 ounces with this amount of sauce.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1.  Toss the whole cherry tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme leaves and a grating of salt and pepper.  Place into an oven-proof, nonreactive pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes--just until the skins start to split.  Remove from oven and place into a bowl.
2.  Scatter freshly chopped basil leaves, lemon juice from half a lemon (or more if you like), a little of the zest and a sprinkling of sea salt into the tomatoes and mix well.
3.  Mix all into the orecchiette (or a pasta of your choice) and leave at room temperature if serving soon.  If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving.