Orecchiette with Roasted Tomato & Basil Sauce


Orecchiette with a sauce of Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic, wilted Fresh Basil and Cream

Intro Collage


As I write this post, I am sitting at my desk wearing a down vest and sipping a cup of mint tea.  It is 5:30pm Friday afternoon {the 5th day of July} and I have just placed the tomatoes, garlic and a few sprigs of oregano from the garden into the oven to roast for this evening’s pasta dinner.  The thermometer outside is reading 57°F…quite the change from the heatwave we have been experiencing this week.  The fog crept in last night and a thin veil of it covered the Bay all day today.  The drop in temperature is a welcome change and I was happy to turn on the oven once again.

I stopped off at the Mill Valley Farmers’ Market this afternoon just to poke around {I am heading into San Francisco tomorrow morning for my weekly trip to the farmers’ market there} and I found these little gems…


I didn’t really need any more cherry tomatoes but, with what was on our dinner menu this evening, how could I pass these up?  I may still be impatiently waiting for my heirloom tomatoes to get heavy on the vine but these small treasures are absolute perfection right now.  So a generously-sized bag accompanied me home ensuring our sauce for tonight’s pasta will be hearty.  Writing about this particular sauce  in his book, The Kitchen Diaries, Nigel Slater states…

“Now there’s enough {tomatoes} for a sauce.  So sauce it is, a thick one to serve with orecchiette, to sit in the pasta’s little hollows, making each mouthful sweet-sharp and luscious…What we got was a sauce that was robust and yet somehow luxurious.”

This dish has very few ingredients, making quality and freshness a key factor in the overall success of the meal.  In addition to the tomatoes, I picked the basil from our garden and the lovely Italian garlic I purchased at last week’s San Francisco Farmers’ market {it was harvested one week ago today} was still streaked with purple and moist…


The preparation for this dinner is simple and minimal.  After rinsing and removing the stems from the tomatoes, halve the small pieces of fruit and place into a large roasting dish…


Add a few {4-6} fat cloves of garlic {unpeeled…the garlic readily pops out from the peel after roasting}, a few sprigs of fresh oregano {which I snipped from the garden today}, a drizzle of olive oil, some kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper…


And broil until, as Nigel Slater states…

“…their skins are golden brown and black here and there and their insides are juicy and starting to burst.  Don’t pussyfoot around here; broil the tomatoes till their skins are truly blackened in some places.”


Meanwhile cook the pasta…


While the pasta cooks, remove the tomatoes from the oven and slip the garlic from their skins and crush them with a fork.  Drop in the basil leaves and stir them in until they have begun to wilt from the heat of the fruit.  Stir in some cream, adjust the seasonings of salt & pepper…


Serve immediately with a spoonful or two of freshly grated Parmesan.  The final dinner plate…


 Orecchiette with Roast Tomatoes & Garlic with Fresh Basil and Cream {adapted from The Kitchen Diaries, by Nigel Slater}

  • 2-3 pounds cherry tomatoes, stems removed, rinsed, dried and halved
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
  • 20-30 fresh basil leaves
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
  1. Place the tomatoes into a large roasting pan.  Add the garlic cloves and sprigs of oregano along with a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of whole pepper.  Drizzle some olive oil over the contents of the roasting dish and gently toss to coat the ingredients.
  2. Place the roasting dish under a broiler and let cook until the tomato and garlic skins are golden brown and a bit blackened in spots.
  3. While the tomatoes and garlic cook, prepare the pasta according to package directions.
  4. Remove the roasting dish of tomatoes and garlic from the oven and slip the cloves of garlic from their skins.  Crush the fruit {skins and all} and garlic with a fork.  Drop in the basil leaves and gently stir to combine…they will wilt and soften from the heat of the tomatoes.  Stir in the cream, adjust the seasoning of salt & pepper.
  5. Place some of the drained pasta onto individual plates and top with a heaping spoonful of the tomato sauce.  Top with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

K Initial

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