KITCHEN GARDEN : Roasted Tomato Scampi

This is my answer to the transitional time between summer and fall.  The days can still be brutally hot, but our internal clocks tell us that fall is coming upon us quick. This recipe uses fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted until deeply flavored and slightly charred, as though they have been out too long in the summer sun. The resinous flavors of fresh thyme, rather than basil, help bring us to the time when the leaves fall and the musty smell of decay mingles with the ripe apples plopping in dry grass. Cider spices linger and lap at our memories this time of year, beckoning us forward in the wheel of time.

ROASTED TOMATO SCAMPI serves 2

TIME TO PREPARE…Prep and Plate : 15 minutes, Oven-time : 30 minutes… EASE : minimal effort

Recommended, but not required equipment : parchment paper

Prepare the tomatoes

  • 2 (heaping) cups of cherry / grape tomatoes (just pile them in to a 2 cup glass measuring cup, when they start tumbling out you have enough)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400º. If you have it – line your sheet pan with parchment paper (have it fit exactly along the bottom, you don’t want to rely on it staying tucked into in the corners, it could spill very hot sauce all over the place), drizzle the olive oil, add the tomatoes and garlic, rolling them around so they are covered evenly with the oil. Sprinkle the salt, add the pepper and the thyme leaves. Roast for 15 minutes. Removed the sheet pan – shimmy and jiggle the tomatoes about. If they are stuck to the pan, don’t scrape them up, leave them be – they are going to add some serious umami to the scampi sauce.

DO THIS CAREFULLY : the oil is hot and combined with the juices from the tomatoes will cause it to spit and bubble furiously.

Replace pan in the oven and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. You know they are done when all tomatoes are collapsed and the juices are a rainbow of golden yellow to rich brown. Scrape everything that is brown or lighter in color into a large mixing bowl, set aside.

If your pan is warped a bit, you might have an area of blackened char – do NOT add this to your sauce in the following step. Your sauce will be bitter and you will be sad.

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Prepare the scampi sauce and pasta

  • 4 T salted butter
  • 2 anchovies (in oil)
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vinegary hot sauce
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 2 T pasta water
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

While the tomatoes are cooking, start your pasta water. In a small saucepan, combine the first four ingredients. Heat on medium high until butter is melted.  Mash the anchovies, so they melt into the sauce and become practically imperceptible. Once the butter is finished melting, remove from the heat and pour into the large mixing bowl with the tomatoes. Combine thoroughly.

When the pasta is finished cooking, add the 2 T pasta water to the scampi, stir to combine. Drain the pasta and add to the large bowl. Add the thyme leaves and stir it all up until the sauce is coating every piece of pasta. Serve it up.

 

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