It is coming to the end of tomato season, and that makes me very very sad.
Now I know you can get tomatoes year round, but fresh farm grown tomatoes are just so much more delicious. To celebrate the end of the season I made this wonderful dish. The end result is very spaghetti like, but different. This recipe highlights the fresh flavor of the tomato while still bringing in some of the warmth of a slow cooked tomato sauce. This recipe comes from a wonderful collection of cook books called Canal House. I would highly recommend checking them out, they do seasonal cook books and this recipe is from volume number 1.
I of course modified it slightly.
1/2 cup of diced raw pancetta
6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pasta
1 cup coarse bread crumbs (fresh if you can)
4 whole tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbs capers
4 leaves of fresh basil
Salt and pepper
½ lb of spaghetti
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds, they should look like this.
Fry the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp around the edges. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the skillet. Leave the rendered fat in the skillet, add 2 Tbs of olive oil and the thinly sliced garlic. Saute until the garlic is fragrant and slightly softened. Add the bread crumbs and the capers, cook stirring often until the bread crumbs are golden.
Put the tomatoes cut side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle each tomato with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mound the breadcrumb mixture into each tomato and top with pancetta. Drizzle each tomato with one Tbs of olive oil.
Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they have softened but are not collapsed. This took me about 45 minutes, but it depends on the size of your tomatoes. I would check on them after 45 minutes.
Cook the spaghetti while the tomatoes are roasting. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and return to pot. Drizzle with olive oil and toss the pasta with a sprinkle of salt and few grinds of pepper. When the tomatoes are done spoon out any of the juices from the tomatoes and add to the pasta, toss again to coat.
Place a portion of spaghetti onto a plate or a shallow bowl, and top with one roasted tomato. Top with torn basil pieces and a bit of parmesan cheese.
A few notes:
Seriously, these were so delicious. If you want to make a “fancy” spaghetti, I highly recommend this.
I used two red tomatoes and two heirloom tomatoes (as you see in the pictures above) the heirloom tomatoes did not hold up to the roasting, I don’t know if this was because they are at the end of the season and they were a little overly ripe, or if it was just the variety. In the future I would stick with good old fashioned big red tomatoes.
The original recipe calls for sauteing 2 anchovy fillets in the olive oil with the garlic. I had no anchovies, but I had capers, so I used those. I think either would be delicious.