There used to be a huge Italian restaurant a few towns away from the town I grew up in. This place was enormous and it served primarily family style Italian dishes. When I say family style, I mean, for something like $13, they served an entire skillet full of the best pasta and sauce I’ve ever tasted in my life. I absolutely loved that restaurant, but sadly had to stop visiting it after I moved away. I do think about it a lot though. My favorite part, by far, was looking at all the whole garlic cloves sitting in the skillet I called my own. Talk about incredible tasting leftovers.
The reason I bring that restaurant story up is because tonight’s dinner reminded me of some of what I used to eat there. This recipe is just as tasty and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw it on the menu. It includes penne pasta, cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves, capers, basil, parsley and so much more. The word that comes to mind is “infused.” Somehow, all the favors in this dish have infused themselves throughout. It’s rather incredible and I got a tremendous response last night. We’re particular about pasta and we gave it two thumbs up.
2 Pounds Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Capers
6 Whole Garlic Cloves
1 1/2 Teaspoons Sugar
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Pound Penne
1/2 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, Chopped
1/4 Cup Crushed Pecans, Toasted
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
Parmesan Cheese, Grated
I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen for their incredible resource called The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook. I pulled this recipe from this book and it’s out of this world. Tons of flavor.
Arrange your oven racks so one is in the center position. Then, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prep & Roast the Tomatoes
I sort of did this backwards, so the pictures might look a bit off. The first step is to cut the tomatoes in half and then add them to a large bowl with the olive oil, capers, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Of course, I forgot to cut the tomatoes in half. Don’t be like me. Cut them in half first.
Then, toss the tomatoes with the other ingredients and add them to a large skillet.
Place the skillet in the oven and let the tomatoes roast for 30 minutes. Tons of flavor comes from this step.
When finished, remove the skillet from the oven and turn off the heat.
Toast the Pecans
Add the pecans to a small skillet and place the skillet over medium-high heat. Keeping a close eye on the skillet, stir the pecans until you begin to smell them toasting. Then, turn off the heat. They are finished.
Cook the Pasta
Add four quarts of water to a large pot along with one tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot and cook until el dente. This will probably take about 12 minutes, since penne takes a tad longer to cook than other pasta (for some reason). When it’s finished, reserve 1/2 cup of water from the pot and then strain the pasta through a colander.
Add the pasta back to the pot it cooked in. If you need to, add some of the reserved water to loosen things up. Then, add the roasted tomatoes, olives, pecans, basil, parsley and oregano to the pot.
Mix everything together.
Plate & Serve
Divide the pasta between plates and sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese over each serving. Enjoy!
The Final Penne Pasta & Roasted Tomatoes Dish
I’m so glad we have some of this left over for tonight. It’s awesome and I’m so looking forward to it. If you give this one a try, please let me know your thoughts down in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!