Who can resist a baked pasta dish?
This is my version of an original Puglia recipe.
I used vine tomatoes for this dish and I found it very difficult to cut proper slices after removing the seeds and gelatinous pulp. I will try using plum tomatoes next time. Roasting the tomatoes in the oven like this intensifies their flavour no matter if you used not-quite-so-ripe tomatoes.
Adding a good melting cheese added to the richness and overall taste of the dish, but you can certainly leave it out if you prefer a lighter option. I say go for cheese.
Because it takes a while to put together, I included this recipe in the Weekend entertaining category. Make this your next Sunday night dinner!
Rigatoni with roasted tomatoes
454 g (1 pound) rigatoni
1 kg (2 pounds) ripe tomatoes
2 to 3 handfuls Panko bread crumbs
1 handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
60 g (2 oz) grated parmesan
60 g (2 oz) grated pecorino
1 cup grated melting cheese like mozzarella, Gruyère or provolone
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, for drizzling
For the tomato sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, whole
1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 bottle (approximately 600 ml) passata or tomato sauce (a little over 2 cups)
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
2. Start by preparing the tomato sauce. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic cloves. Let the garlic cook and, once it turned golden brown, remove it from the pan and discard.
3. Add a pinch of hot red pepper flakes, the passata or tomato sauce and the water and simmer for twenty minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. While your sauce is cooking, slice the tomatoes and season with a bit of salt on both sides and put in a colander to drain for 10 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels and remove some of the seeds.
5. In a small bowl, combine the Panko bread crumbs, the parmesan, the pecorino, the parsley and the garlic clove.
6. Take a baking dish large enough to accommodate the tomatoes and pasta and coat it all over with olive oil. Arrange half the tomato slices on the bottom in a single layer, slightly overlapping them. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and sprinkle half the bread crumb mixture all over the tomatoes. Add a good drizzle of olive oil all over.
7. Cook in the hot oven until the top starts to brown, about half an hour.
8. During that time, cook the rigatoni in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the box. Drain and mix with the tomato sauce. Add the grated melting cheese and mix well to combine.
9. Take the baking dish out of the oven and put the rigatoni on top of that first layer of roasted tomatoes, spreading the pasta evenly.
10. Take the rest of the tomato slices and layer them on top of the rigatoni slightly overlapping again. Season the tomatoes with black pepper, then with the remaining bread crumb mixture, drizzle a nice amount of olive oil on top and return to the oven for another 30 minutes or so. Let cool for ten minutes before serving.