Italian Week at the Cooking Club…A Two-Fer Tomato Fest

Thought for the week…Choose your friends wisely, and also choose friends that you can trust.

While sometimes a little involved there are also loads of quick recipes short and sweet for midweek Italian meals often creep into my kitchen especially in the summer months when there is an abundance of produce.  This past week was a good example as I stared at a pile of tomatoes of all varieties on my countertop, but keep in mind that these days we can find some great tomatoes in the stores also a good assortment of you look beyond your good old standby choices and I have found that many of the odd color and shaped tomatoes are some of the sweetest especially in the Trader Joe’s stores where I often come away with 5-6 different kinds and trust me there is nothing prettier than a platter or salad of pretty heirloom tomatoes, lightly dressed and seasoned for a fresh take on baked tomatoes and feta a warm “Panzanella”.  So enjoy tomatoes all summer and shop around in offseason for some little beauties… 

Warm Panzanella…Baked tomatoes with Feta

Serves 4+1/2 ounces feta cheese
1+1/4 pounds mixed tomatoes, slice the largest ones, I had some of those lovely Villagio Marzano (Publix) grape tomatoes and left them whole
1 handful of kalamata olives, pitted
7-8 ounces sourdough
½ bunch of fresh basil and a few fresh oregano leaves, torn
drizzles of olive oil
salt and pepper to season

Cut the feta into large chunks, thickly slice the larger tomatoes, leaving the smaller ones whole, and then
tear the sourdough into chunks.  

Combine the feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, sourdough and a splash of oil in a baking tray.  Season to taste with salt and pepper

Season, then pop it into the oven for 25 or so minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the feta is golden at the edges.

Scatter over the basil and serve.

Hugh’s Roasted Tomato Sauce, slightly adapted

4 pounds tomatoes, any variety, cut in half
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound shaped pasta, such as fusilli
3 tablespoons butter
*optional pinches of red pepper flakes

Your favorite curly pasta, cooked al dente

Preheat oven to 350°F. halve your choice of tomatoes and pack them in a ovenproof dish. Tuck the garlic cloves, drizzle EVOO over tomatoes, toss and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 minutes, until soft and just beginning to brown. I whizzed the roasted tomatoes with an immersion blender and strained through a food mill to remove the seeds and tomato skins.

*optional: Add fresh basil, thyme, oregano, a fresh bay leaf and some black garlic if you have some…if you want more garlic, add another clove or two.
In the meantime, transfer the tomato mixture to a saucepan and add the butter. Simmer gently, aiming for a thick but not-too-pasty consistency. Add water if necessary. Season to taste.
Toss the drained pasta with the sauce and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Print this recipe: Roasted Tomato Sauce with Lots of Pinches