If you travel through southern Italy during the summer you are bound to find some rendition of this dish in every town. Delicious and simple to assemble, it will become one of your favorites, I am sure. Tanya and I discovered racks and racks of tomatoes drying in the sun, their sugars intensifying, while filming my public television show in Italy. We ate pasta with those tomatoes almost every day we were there, and have brought the tradition home with us. If you don’t have a garden or terrace to dry your tomatoes in the sun, baking them is a flavorful alternative.
- 1 1/4 cups grated pecorino
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- Kosher salt
- Peperoncino flakes
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a large bowl, toss together 1 cup of the pecorino, the panko, and the parsley. Drizzle with 1/3 cup of the oil and toss well. Add the tomatoes, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of peperoncino. Toss well to coat the tomatoes in the crumb mixture.
Scatter the tomatoes on the baking sheets, scraping any excess crumbs from the bowl on top of them. Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled but still juicy and the crumbs are crisp and golden, 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
When the tomatoes are almost done, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water.
Transfer the hot cooked tomatoes to a large serving bowl. Drain the pasta with tongs, and add it directly to the bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup pecorino and the basil. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and add a ladle or two of pasta water. Toss well, adding a little more pasta water if it still seems dry.