Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Most weeks John and I pick up some fresh pasta at the farmers market.  Our usual choice is whole wheat shells, and I generally make a simple tomato sauce with grape tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.  When I found a recipe for baked tomato sauce with bread crumbs and cheese, I knew I had to try it.  This was a wonderful new "sauce" to bring to our dinners.  The breadcrumbs get really crispy from the olive oil and you get a wonderful cheesy breadcrumb bite every time.  Yum!

Here's what you need: cherry tomatoes, bread to make into bread crumbs, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic, kosher salt, and ground pepper. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Toast some bread for about 10 minutes in the oven - you want enough to make 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs.

I used a mixture of freshly and pre-grated Parmesan cheese.  The freshly grated really adds a much stronger cheese flavor to the dish.  You need 1/4 cup total.

Cherry tomatoes are so delicious and sweet on their own, but try not to scarf them all down before you can make this sauce.  You need about a pound of tomatoes for this sauce.
Cut your tomatoes in half and lay them facing up in a baking dish.

Take your toasted bread and place it in your food processor.  Do not be stupid like me and grab the bread with your hands right as it comes out of the oven.  When you pulse this thing it will seem like it is full of rocks - these pieces of bread are quite hard.  But keep up the good work and eventually crumbs will happen for you.

Mine came out much bigger than the stuff out of a can, but this is a good thing.  You don't want them to be anything like the stuff out of the can. 

In a bowl, use a fork to combine 1/3 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 3 chopped garlic cloves.

Now pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the tomatoes (and pan) and then top with the breadcrumb mixture.  Season with salt and pepper, and then top with another tablespoon of olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until browned on top.

There's nothing like the smell of garlic roasting in your oven, especially when bread and Parmesan are involved.  You better have your pasta cooked, because otherwise you will be eating this stuff out of the pan!

Luckily, our pasta was done and we got to chow down on this delicious sauce.  If you've never tried breadcrumbs in pasta before (especially fresh ones), do not let yourself miss out on this treat for as long as I had.  One of life's pleasures, let me tell you!

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
From Smitten Kitchen

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs, made from toasted bread
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound pasta, cooked

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toast slices of bread in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Pulse toasted bread in food processor to make breadcrumbs.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place cut-side up in baking dish.  Top with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Combine 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 3 cloves of chopped/pressed garlic in a bowl.  Top the tomatoes with breadcrumb mixture and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the topping browns.  Eat with 1 pound of pasta, cooked according to package directions.

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