By Tom Yates
Now that our larger heirlooms tomatoes have started to ripen and come in, our bounty of cherry and grape varieties have started to stock pile.
Last night, I decided to roast and serve them over pasta. This really is an easy recipe. Really. Trust me. I purposely chose to take it a tiny bit farther. Beyond the senseless silliness of self indulgence, the recipe was basically roasted tomatoes and peppers over pasta; and that would be fantastic with good quality al dente pasta punching through soft sweet roasted vegetables.
I enjoy making pasta. Period. It just feels right to do so, especially when dealing with other great ingredients. I made ricotta cheese, fennel, and parmesan filled ravioli to serve with fresh roasted farmers’ market cubanelle peppers, green bell peppers, and our container grown tomatoes.
I made the egg pasta, rolled it through a pasta machine into sheets, , dotted the sheets with filling, topped the filling with a second sheet of pasta, cut it into ravioli, and set it aside to rest.
I halved the grape/cherry tomatoes, sliced the peppers, tossed them with sliced garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper, and roasted them at 350 for 30 minutes until caramelized, sweet, and tender.
While they roasted, I made meatballs with ground chuck, egg, minced parsley, grated onion, bread crumbs, and water for moisture. I rolled them into golf ball sized balls, drizzled them with olive oil, and braised them along side the vegetables until just barely cooked. When firm, yet underdone, I droppped them into a sauce pan to simmer in a tomato, garlic, and white wine sauce.
When it was time to eat, I boiled the ravioli in heavily salted water until they floated to the top. They tell you when they are are done. They float.
While the ravioli cooked, I combined the tomatoes and peppers, drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, and set them aside. I spotted an over-ripe heirloom tomato perched on the window sill, and in a blaze of self ordained genius, split it in half and squeezed it over the roasted vegetables to brighten them with a burst of freshness. The added tomato juice mingled with the oil to create a warm sweet tomato vinaigrette sauce. Brilliant!.
I plated the pasta, spooned over the sauce, and topped it with fresh torn basil. I placed the meatball garnish to the side with freshly cut chives for a mild onion finish.
With my last remaining nub of parmesan reggiano, I bathed it with finely grated cheese.
It was shockingly good. Fresh. Deep. Sweet. Soft.
The pasta was so light. The caramelized tomatoes and peppers were perfectly broken down and sweet. Their concentrated sweetness resembled savory vegetable jam while still retaining a beautiful freshness. When sliced, the creamy insides of the ravioli oozed onto the plate and swirled around the transparent tomato sauce. The meatballs were incredibly moist and highly seasoned.When all the textures and flavors melded together, it tasted like ridiculously fresh lasagna. A light deconstructed lasagna.
While I try not to cook with our fresh homegrown tomatoes, sometimes I do what I have to do.
Or want to do. Got ’em? For super concentrated sweet tomato flavor, roast them.
This article also appears on page 17 of the August 7, 2014 print issue of Ace.
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