I love a big bowl of pasta topped with a sauce made of roasted tomatoes, and I do make it often when I am lucky enough to be able to buy fresh, locally grown plum tomatoes. In this month’s Bon Appetit magazine however, they had a recipe for pasta with roasted tomatoes using canned tomatoes. I do not know why I never thought about doing this myself, because I certainly know that when you roast any vegetable you caramelize the natural sugars which intensifies the flavors and brings out the sweetness of the vegetable. I was intrigued enough to make the pasta using oven roasted canned tomatoes soon after reading about it in the magazine with just a few changes. The actual recipe is for Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce, and it includes a whopping 8 garlic cloves. I added chopped onions, replaced the butter with olive oil, and decreased the garlic to 4 large cloves which I found to be plenty. The recipe calls for roasting the canned tomatoes at 425 degrees F. for 35 to 40 minutes, but I found 45 to 50 minutes worked better in my oven. It took that extra amount of time to reduce and thicken the sauce.
Since this sauce is such a simple one, you do need to use top quality ingredients. I would suggest San Marzano tomatoes, or any good quality domestic brand. To know your tomatoes are a good choice for pasta sauce, take a spoon and taste them right from the can. If they taste sour and are not delicious in their natural form, I’d choose another brand. As well as using these roasted tomatoes as a sauce for pasta, they are also delicious in soups, on top of pizza, or anywhere you might use canned tomatoes. Do not be tempted to eliminate the anchovies as they really do add flavor. I personally am not a huge fan of anchovies, but in recipes such as this one where they end up melting into the sauce, you do not taste anything “fishy”, but the anchovies add a complexity to the taste.
Deborah Mele 2013
- 1 (28 Ounce) Can Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
- 3/4 Cup Diced White Onion
- 2 Anchovy Fillets
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive OIl
- 1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 8 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped
- 1 Pound Bucatini Pasta (or Spaghetti)
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large (13 x 9 inch) oven-proof casserole dish, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, anchovies, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- Roast, stirring halfway until the garlic and onions are very soft, about 45 to 50 minutes.
- Either use a potato masher (for chunky sauce) or a hand blender (for smoother sauce) and break up and mash the garlic.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted water until it is "al dente".
- Drain, reserving a small cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot, and add the sauce and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Turn the heat to high, and stirring constantly, cook until the pasta is piping hot and the sauce clings to the pasta.
- Stir in the basil, and serve topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.