Who doesn’t love a tomato? Apparently in the United States, very few. The average American consumes 72 pounds of processed tomatoes and 18 pounds of fresh tomatoes annually. That’s a whopping 90-plus pounds of the antioxidant rich vegetable (okay, technically a fruit) per year. And when perusing Lawrence Davis-Hollander’s Tomato cookbook, you see why. They’re delicious. And versatile. Covering everything from sauces to quiches to desserts (really!), the collection of recipes, many contributed by celebrity chefs, will have you kicking off the start of tomato season in style. To get you going, check out this simple, but tasty, pasta dish…
Spaghetti with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan Cheese
Since 1994, when she opened her restaurant Rialto, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, chef Jody Adams has been winning awards for her interpretation of the classic regional foods of the Mediterranean. Adams wrote In the Hands of a Chef: Cooking with Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant with her husband Ken Rivard. This is one of her favorite dishes—full of bright flavors and rich tastes, yet unfussy in conception. If you do not like arugula, substitute baby spinach leaves. The slow roasting both caramelizes and concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes, thus enhancing more ordinary commercial varieties. If you start with a full-flavored cherry, such as Peacevine or Matt’s Wild Cherry, all the better.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
18 basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
48 ripe cherry, grape, or sweet tomatoes, rinsed and dried
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound spaghetti
2 cups lightly packed arugula
1/4 cup basil, cut into thin ribbons
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 250˚F.
2. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; add the basil leaves and red pepper and stir well.
3. Toss the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of the salt and sugar and place them in a roasting pan with sides. The pan should be large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer. If they won’t fit, use an additional roasting pan and more oil. Spoon the onion mixture over the tomatoes. Add enough oil to come halfway up the tomatoes. Roast until the tomatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours. Stir once, gently, during the roasting. (You can roast the tomatoes up to 6 hours ahead of time, if convenient.)
4. To finish the dish, bring a large pot of water with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the spaghetti and stir constantly until the water returns to a boil. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat the tomatoes with the onions and oil in a large shallow saucepan over low heat. When the pasta is done, drain it and transfer to the saucepan with the tomatoes. Add the arugula. Toss well. Add the basil and toss again.
6. Serve in a warm shallow bowl with Parmesan sprinkled over the top.