This recipe sounds predictable, right? I thought so too. I mean, anything with tomatoes and basil is good, but I didn’t expect it to be this good. The recipe, courtesy of chef Rialto chef Jody Adams in the Best American Recipes 05-06, calls for marathon roasting of cherry tomatoes. Aside from that, there’s nothing to it.
Spaghetti with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, basil, arugula and Parmesan
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus about 1/4 cup for roasting
1 large white onion, diced (we prefer shallots)
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
18 fresh basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup cut into thin ribbons
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
48 ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed and dried
3 t kosher salt
2 t sugar
1 pound spaghetti
2 cups lightly packed arugula
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 250º. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion/shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the whole basil leaves and red pepper flakes and stir well.
Toss the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of the salt and sugar and fit them snugly into a single layer pan and spoon the shallot mixture over the top. Add olive oil until it reaches halfway up the tomatoes (yup, it’s a lot and the reason the tomatoes should be snug, not spreading all over a cookie sheet). Bake for 3 hours (stir once gently), but check on them periodically to ensure they don’t turn to mush; pop one or two in your mouth to uh, check them. The burst of tomato will surprise you.
Bring a large pot of water with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil. Add the spaghetti and stir constantly until it returns to a boil. Cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the tomatoes with the onions and oil in a large saucepan over low heat. When the pasta is done, drain it and transfer to the saucepan with the tomatoes. Add the arugula. Toss well. Add the basil ribbons and toss again.
Serve immediately (sprinkling Parmesan over the top if you like, though I didn’t even need it) and fight over the portions.