Every December I host a dinner party for my three book clubs (one is actually just called “Social Club” now). I ask everyone to bring a new book and ornament for a fun gift exchange. I look forward to having all of my book loving friends together for this fun event each and every year. I usually end up making some type of a pasta dish because there are quite a few vegetarians in this group of women, and this year was no different.
I roasted a huge amount of sugar plum tomatoes (think Sugar Plum Fairy) with a couple heads of garlic and seasonings to use as my sauce over the cooked penne pasta. I then added cheese and poured everything in a couple 9×13 baking dishes to bake before the party. I make a lot for this large group of people. There are sometimes almost 30 of us. This year there was just over 20, so I had one pan of pasta leftover. I sent it home with my good friend and neighbor, Lauren.
My husband was going to be leaving on business travel the next morning and my daughter, Kylie, wasn’t going to be home for dinner the next night. I didn’t want the pasta to go to waste so I asked Lauren if she’d like to take it to her husband and kids. She was thrilled to bring the pasta home and when I saw her the following Monday at another Holiday party we attend she was telling me how much her husband, Rob and their kids loved this dish. They even said I should open a restaurant! Or a Bed and Breakfast! Let me just tell you, my biggest dream in the world is to own a Bed and Breakfast. I would love nothing more than having that in my life. I loved watching Newhart – remember that show? He owns a Bed and Breakfast in a small Vermont town. I would watch that show religiously, I loved it. Almost as much as I love “I Love Lucy”. Lucille Ball has always been my idol. Lucille and Audrey Hepburn.
I decided that since Lauren and her family loved the roasted tomato and garlic penne bake so much, I would make it again, but on a smaller scale so I could blog it for all of you. I made just one 9×13 dish this time and there was still a lot of leftovers so I called my friend and neighbor, Laura, who lives directly across the street from us – her and Joe and their kids been the most wonderful neighbors for the last 14 years. I saw Joe yesterday morning and he was telling me how much they loved the pasta! I’m so happy they liked it too. I knew for sure I needed to get this recipe out to all my readers so you could make it as well and let me know if it was as much of a hit with your friends and family as it was with mine.
For the smaller recipe, I didn’t use Sugar Plum tomatoes. Only because I wanted to use what I had in my refrigerator. I’ll let you decide which kind you want to use, they are all fabulous when roasted with an entire head of garlic. I used mixed cherry tomatoes and kumato tomatoes – a total of four pint size containers. Tomatoes really shrink down when you roast them, so I wanted to make sure I had enough to make an impact in the sauce.
I used an entire head of garlic for this recipe. Trust me, it will be worth it!
I placed the tomatoes on a large, rimmed baking sheet along with the minced garlic. I then poured a half cup of basil olive oil (don’t worry if you don’t have basil olive oil, regular would be just fine. If you do have it or want to buy some to use for this recipe, it would be fabulous. I buy mine at a store called Baker & Olive in Carmel Valley, California. They also have a store in Encinitas and one in Point Loma. You can order from them on-line at http://www.bakerandolive.com. They will ship for free if you spend over $50. If you live in San Diego, I recommend visiting one of their stores. You can taste anything and they have so many different varieties of oils and vinegars, along with cook books, salts, and more. I even took a class there on the perfect cheese platter with my good friend, Pam.
Once I poured the olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic, I added kosher salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. I mixed everything together with my hands and placed the pan in a preheated 425 degree oven to roast for 25 minutes. This pan smelled good before it even went in the oven!
Just look at all the seasonings with the olive oil – that will become your sauce. I poured the pan of tomatoes over the cooked penne noodles, making sure to scrape up every bit of flavoring off that baking sheet, and mixed it all together.
I then added shredded gruyere cheddar blend and grated parmesan cheese and mixed everything together before pouring it into my baking dish (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray – I love an easier clean-up in the kitchen if at all possible!). I sprinkled bread crumbs over the top and drizzled a tad more basil olive oil on the top.
I baked the pasta in the oven for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
I sprinkled a bit of chopped, fresh rosemary over the pasta, as well as a bit of grated parmesan before serving. The green in the rosemary added a nice woodsy flavor and worked so well with the gruyere. Plus, it added a little green to my red in the tomatoes for a festive, holiday dish to share with my family and friends.
1 pound penne pasta
4 pints of small tomatoes (Kumato, cherry, sugar plum – any or a combination of all would work)
1 head garlic, minced
1/2 cup basil olive oil (plain if you don’t have basil flavored)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
rosemary, chopped for garnish
1-1/4 cups shredded gruyere/cheddar blend cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place tomatoes on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Add minced garlic, olive oil and seasonings. Mix together with hands.
- Roast tomatoes for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees once you remove the cooked tomatoes from the oven.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Add cooked tomatoes, along with all juices and scrapings from the pan, to the cooked and drained pasta.
- Add cheeses and place in 9×13 baking dish.
- Place dish in 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays to all!
Until next time, Kris