Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pasta Ponza

I love quick pasta dishes, especially ones that use unique ingredients. I have posted a few here, like Pasta with Chicken and Mixed Vegetables, Pasta with Potatoes, Pesto, and Green Beans, and Pasta with Kalamata Olives, Capers, and Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce. That is why I was eager to try the Pasta Ponza recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. It is pasta with a roasted tomato sauce, but what makes it unique is that the tomatoes are mixed with breadcrumbs and capers. That combination sounded unique to me, and I love capers. Anytime a recipe has them in it, I take notice.

I liked this pasta dish, but I didn't love it. It's quick and simple, and the roasting of the tomatoes is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness. If I made it again, I would probably leave out the breadcrumbs or I would mix the roasted tomatoes with the pasta and capers, and top the dish with the breadcrumbs, cheese, and some olive oil, then bake the dish so that it would form a crispy crust on top. Some of the breadcrumbs became soggy and the texture was not very appealing. However the tomato/caper/cheese mixture was delicious. I will definitely try the combination again.

Pasta Ponza
from Giada De Laurentiis
serves 4 to 6
  • Butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta (I used rigatoni)
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and basil and serve immediately.

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