Roasted Tomato Fettucine

On Wednesday of this week, we experienced the first tornado warning in as long as I can remember.  The sirens went off all over the KC Metro, and the images of Joplin were fresh in my mind.  I was home from work that day and watching a DVRed episode of Real Housewives of Orange County when the tornado warning flashed across the screen.  For those of you unfamiliar, RHOOC airs on Sunday evenings, and at first I thought the warning was a part of the recording (Joplin was hit during the severe weather on Sunday).  But when the timestamp came across, I realized it was effective NOW.  As in, I needed to gather myself and the pups and make my way to the basement.

In that moment I realized I was not mentally prepared for this situation.  Where do I find more information?  Where's the storm?  Where's the tornado?  Is it on the ground?  What do I need to take downstairs with me?

I was overwhelmed with images of Joplin, the fact that I was alone, and a severe feeling of unpreparedness.

I grabbed the dog beds and took them downstairs.  I brought my computer with me.  Then I realized I didn't have my phone.  Then I tried to think of the things I couldn't do without - anything we'd need to still be able to get married as planned.  Want to know what I grabbed?

The Stallion's computer.  His lifeblood is the files of past work he's done.  I recalled him lamenting over only one item when his house was robbed a few years ago: his external harddrive.  He had even hidden it underneath his mattress.

My brand spankin' new camera.  A dream that had so recently come true, I wasn't ready to let it go.

Our wedding bands.  My dress is with the seamstress, and The Stallion's suit is, too.  I thought of these as the last required item to get married. (As I type this, I realize it would have been infinitely smarter to have grabbed our passports.)

Water.  I dumped out the rest of the milk and filled the jug with water.

Tennis shoes.  I was barefoot and talking with The Stallion over instant messenger.  He told me to grab tennis shoes.  That was smart thinking.

As I sat in the basement, I decided to email my parents to let them know that I hadn't gone in to work that day, and that I was in fact at home, in the basement with their grandpups.  At that point, the biggest threat was near my office to the south of us, and I had visions of devastation where my parents were waiting for me to be brought out of my office building when, in fact, I was trapped in the basement at home.

Like I said, Joplin was fresh in my mind.  I'm not usually that frantic or easily unsettled.

Luckily, it didn't wind up mattering what I had taken into the basement or forgotten about.  It didn't matter if my parents knew of my accurate whereabouts or not.  I am thankful for that.

After a stressful morning, and considering the fact that I hadn't cooked anything slightly significant in a while, particularly since I got my new camera, I began thinking about dinner.  I found Arborio rice in the pantry.  I rummaged through the fridge and found these:

They desperately needed to be used.  It just so happens that my friend Bev had just posted a roasted tomato pasta recipe.  My mind immediately went to roasted tomatoes.  I really wanted to want to make a risotto.  But I just didn't feel like having something quite that rich.  I decided to start roasting the tomatoes and decide later.

Roasting anything is easy.  All you need is time.  Which is sometimes difficult.  So maybe roasting veggies isn't completely easy.  But the preparation is.  And it's pretty universal:  olive oil, salt, and an aromatic.  Instead of using an herb this time (like rosemary or thyme), I used garlic.  I wanted to keep this as light and bright as I could, and for me, rosemary and thyme are very wintery, earthy herbs.

I cheated a little bit, though, and used garlic powder instead of slicing garlic cloves and carefully placing them across the tops of the tomato halves.

After roasting for an hour in a 375 degree oven, I was left with these beauties:

While they were in the oven, I decided to go with pasta instead of risotto and ran (not literally) to the store to pick up some fettucine.  I still can't believe that my pantry contained no pasta.  Such a phenomenon.

I wasn't really sure what flavor to expect from roasted tomatoes.

Oh, baby.  It's hard to describe.  But it was divine.  Absolutely divine.  The sauce was bright, yet also rich.  It was velvety in texture and just plain delicious.

Finishing this sauce with a quarter cup or so of cream would have cut the acid a bit and really added an extra layer of flavor.

But I can't say that I would 100% recommend it.  I think it really depends on your mood - this dish will be exquisite either way.

Another trick I learned from an Italian to cut the acidity of a tomato sauce is to add baking soda.  It neutralizes the acid without adding sweetness like sugar would.

Finish this dish with some Parmigiano Reggiano and more fresh basil, and serve to smiling, salivating friends and family.

I know I've got to rework my schedule so that I'm done cooking when there's still daylight.  Food pictures with a flash are just unfortunate.  Thanks to the number of huge trees on our street, that may be 2:00pm.  So, I guess I should just go ahead and book my Sunday mornings for the foreseeable future.

Roasted Tomato Fettucine
Makes 2-4 servings (depends on how hungry you are!)
  • 1 pound tomatoes (I used Campari; Roma would also be great)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound fettucine
  • Olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, sliced Goodfellas thin
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 T butter
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, lay cut side up, and place a garlic slice on each piece.  Or cheat and use a smattering of garlic powder like I did.
  3. Bake tomatoes for an hour, until they are shriveled but still juicy.  Remove from oven, set aside.  Start your pasta water (you will need to reserve about 3/4 cup of this water before draining).
  4. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Err on the side of heat too low - you do not want the garlic or onions to brown.  Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the onion and basil, allowing the mixture to cook until the garlic and onions are translucent and the oil has been infused.  Again, do not let it brown - particularly the garlic, as it will turn bitter.
  5. Add the tomatoes and any collected juices, as well as the red pepper flakes.  As you stir, you will find the tomatoes disintegrate and create a smooth mixture.  Before you drain your pasta, collect about 3/4 cup of water and add to the tomato sauce.
  6. Stir in the butter to finish the sauce, then toss the pasta into the skillet to coat.  Serve with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and more chopped basil.
Adapted from Cooking Light via Bev Cooks.

Buon appetito!

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