Spaghetti with Roasted Heirloom
Tomatoes
By Charlie Burk

click here for printed friendly recipe

After a late start, our heirloom tomatoes are producing at least twenty pounds a
day. We sell thirty pounds a week to a restaurant and some at our stand, but
have plenty left for ourselves, friends and for sauce which is frozen for winter
use.

Heirloom tomatoes have more flavor than paste varieties but contain much more
water which must be evaporated when making sauce. For this reason, I use a
very wide sauté pan with three inch vertical sides. Its large surface area rapidly
concentrates the sauce from four or five pounds of tomatoes resulting in a lighter
sauce than those boiled for longer times.

This
Spaghetti with Roasted  Heirloom Tomatoes recipe uses roasting to
concentrate  the different
flavors of a mix  of our
tomatoes. Although
they roast for
a couple of hours, the
hands-on time of
preparation is quite
short, and it takes little
additional effort to make enough for several meals. Freezing it enables peak of
season tomatoes to be enjoyed on the coldest winter day.

Preparation for roasting involves squeezing out the seeds and jelly like pulp
surrounding them which, when strained, yield tomato water which has intense
flavor. It is great as juice or added to soups and stocks, but here I decided to
reduce it to intensify its flavor and to toss the spaghetti in it, providing a second
layer of taste to complement the roasted sauce. Because of this, it is important to
follow the Italian custom of minimally saucing the pasta which shares equal
billing with the “condiments”.

Four to six servings:

1 pound spaghetti, preferably imported and made from 100% Durham wheat
5 pounds best quality local tomatoes, a mix of heirlooms if available
6 – 8 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and ground pepper
¾ cup basil, torn or chopped immediately before using

Preheat oven to 325 degrees on bake or convection bake. Core, and then slice
tomatoes in half crosswise, not from top to bottom. Place a strainer over a bowl
and squeeze seeds and loose pulp into strainer. Set aside to continue draining.

Place tomatoes, cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or
foil. Place garlic cloves individually into tomatoes (there will be fewer garlic
cloves than tomato halves). Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and a few grinds of
pepper, and then drizzle generously with olive oil. Place into the oven and cook
for approximately 2 hours. Times will vary, depending on the oven and size of
tomatoes. They are done when there is some caramelization and the halves have
partially collapsed. The tomatoes should still be somewhat moist.

While tomatoes cook, press  juice from seeds and pulp through the strainer with
the back of a wooden spoon. Place juice into a small sauce pan and add a
tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until reduced
by half. It will change from red to a more orange color which will nicely color the
pasta. Taste and add a small amount of salt if needed; if the taste is particularly
sharp or acidic, whisk in an additional 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil to balance,
as would be done with a salad dressing.

Place tomatoes and any juice on the parchment paper into a food processor and
pulse several times. The sauce should have intact pieces of tomato when done.
Taste, adding salt, pepper or additional oil to taste.

Boil pasta in a large volume of salted water until just done (start tasting at 6
minutes). Strain and return to pot, stirring in the reduced tomato juice. Serve on
warmed plates, topping with ¼ - ½ cup of the sauce, sprinkle with grated
parmesan cheese and the chopped basil. Served with a green salad, good crusty
bread and a Chianti Classico, it is typical of meals served in traditional trattorias
in Italy.

This sauce is the third tomato pasta sauce written for our recipe column and is
the most intense of the three - at the opposite end of the spectrum from the light,
uncooked fresh tomato, garlic and basil sauce. The easy cooked sauce, also in
our archives, is somewhere in between and is closest to what is thought of as
“spaghetti sauce”, but the intensity of roasted tomatoes in this version is not to
be missed.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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Spaghetti with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes.
Tomatoes before placing in oven to roast
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