Weekly Winner: The Incredible Shrinking Tomatoes


I love it when I have all day to prepare one single dish. Not the fussy, needy kind of recipe that demands my attention every minute, but the kind of dish that needs all day to cook, with minimal attention, but rewards you with an insanely good-smelling house as it either simmers, bubbles or braises away. Or in the case of this tomato conserva recipe — slowly shrinks and dries up (but in a good way — a very good way)

The recipe for both the tomatoes and the final pasta dish came from Fine Cooking.  And indeed it was fine.  The sweetness from the tomatoes was amazing.  Combine that with the pancetta and the overall aroma in the house from cooking these tomatoes low and slow all day …like I said, amazing.  Before posting the recipe, I thought I’d show you the before and after pictures of the tomatoes.

Going into the oven —


20140429-104740.jpg and what they looked like coming out after 5-1/2 hours. 

The tomatoes themselves would be fabulous on almost anything.  But in my book, combining them with a pork product and pasta is always the way to go!

Tomato Conserva

 4 lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, such as beefsteak or plum, cored and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick

2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Divide the tomatoes and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle the oil over the tomatoes and season with 1 tsp salt and several grinds of pepper. Gently toss the tomatoes to evenly coat with the oil and then spread in a single layer.

Put the sheets in the oven and lower the heat to 225°F. Slowly roast, switching the positions of the sheets halfway through, until the tomatoes look like juicy sun-dried tomatoes, wrinkly and slightly browned in spots, 5 to 6 hours. Let the tomatoes cool for at least 10 minutes before serving or using.

Spaghetti with Tomato Conserva, Pancetta, and Pecorino

Kosher salt

1 lb. dried spaghetti

5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz. thinly sliced fatty pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch strips

2 cups Tomato Conserva, coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 oz. finely grated aged Pecorino Romano (2 cups using a rasp grater)

1/2 cup packed whole flat-leaf parsley leaves

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the conserva, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water and toss to combine. Add the pasta and cook, tossing, until al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, half of the pecorino, and the parsley. Toss, adding more pasta water, if needed, to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and serve sprinkled with the remaining pecorino.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michael James
    May 04, 2014 @ 16:41:01

    I can’t believe how tomatoes and a little bit of garlic and olive oil make the house smell so amazing….


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