I planted some grape tomatoes a few years ago and toward the middle of the summer I had so many I didn’t know what to do with them all. I have to admit that a lot of them were left on the vine…so many, in fact, that the next year I did not have to plant them, they just came back… all by themselves. We were eating a lot of grape tomatoes. We ate them everyday so I did find some very good ways to use them. This week I was the lucky recipient of a pint or two of those little rubies of goodness from a friend and knew just what to do with them. They are great eaten raw as part of a salad or a crudités, but I like them best when they are sautéed or roasted with some good olive oil concentrating the sweetness and they are great on a pizza. As a farewell to summer, before the first frost, I offer the following simple, one pot dish featuring vine ripened grape tomatoes.
Penne with Sauteed, Vine-Ripened Grape Tomatoes:
1 pound penne (I used organic whole wheat penne, but just use what you like) prepared “al dente”. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
2 pints vine-ripened grape tomatoes, cut in halfs
2 cups chick peas, prepared (cannellini beans or butter beans work great too)
4 cloves, peeled garlic finely chopped
2 shallots, peeled, fine diced
1 small onion, peeled fine diced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves chiffonade (I used locally grown purple basil) Note: chiffonade is a leafy vegetable cut into thin ribbons, but a rough chop will do just as well for this dish.
1/4 cup parsley chopped
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated to taste
Cook the pasta according to the directions making sure that it is slightly undercooked because it will be cooked again in the sauce. When draining the pasta reserve some of the water to moisten the pasta at the end if it needs more moisture.
Heat the pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot add the garlic and sauté briefly. Add the shallots and onions and cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes and let them cook until they begin to exude their moisture. Stir frequently and allow the juices to concentrate. Add the rest of the ingredients and let them heat through. Add the pasta back to the pot, toss to combine and heat the pasta thoroughly. Add some of the pasta cooking liquid if the dish seems dry and serve.
This dish is so simple, healthy and delicious that I could serve it once a week in my house. Just a few other comments that I have found useful like try using fresh beans when they are available. Fresh beans need to be shelled but they cook in minutes and have a much nicer texture than dried or canned beans. Try tossing the cut tomatoes in olive oil and roasting them in a hot oven; then use the tomatoes as you would any cooked tomato as part of a sauce or season and chop to use a a bruschetta topping. There are no limits. Enjoy!