The longer tomatoes cook, the sweeter they get. I love how their juices transfer flavour onto everything they touch. This pasta finishes its cooking in the juices of the tomatoes that have been slow roasted, allowing the flavour to penetrate the thin strands. Herbs add a beautiful freshness and crisp fried pancetta give a salty crunch. If you’re lucky enough to have any – the leftovers are great.
Capellini with Roasted Vine Tomatoes
30 – 40 baby tomatoes on the vine
¼ cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon dried origanum
8 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
300g finely chopped pancetta or bacon
2 chilies, split and one chopped to serve (optional)
3 tbsp butter
1 pkt capellini or spaghettini pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated
Slice tomatoes in half longways, place into roasting pan, cut side up.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, balsamic vinegar, split chili if desired, olive oil and torn basil leaves, thyme and origanum.
Cover tightly with foil, and bake on 140 degrees Celcius for about an hour and a half.
Do not mix, you want to keep the tomatoes as whole as possible, and get some ‘juice’ going in the bottom of the roasting pan.
Fry the bacon or pancetta until crisp and set aside. Reserve the pan oil.
Boil a packet of capellini or spaghettini pasta in salted water until just el dente – you want it slightly underdone as it will finish cooking in the tomatoes.
Drain, leaving about 1/4 cup pasta water.
Add butter and salt.
Toss the pasta and water into the roasting pan with the tomatoes and oil from the pancetta, mix gently, cover with foil and leave to stand for 2 or 3 minutes so that the pasta can absorb the tomato juices and finish cooking.
Top with pancetta, fresh basil, loads of parmesan, ground black pepper and some chopped fresh chili if desired.