Recipe: Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil

Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and BasilMore than 1 million home cooks rely on Cook’s Illustrated magazine to provide trusted recipes that work, honest equipment reviews and ingredient taste tests, and time-saving kitchen tips.  Published by the hosts of America’s Test Kitchen television series, Cook’s Illustrated is known for an almost fanatical approach to creating the best recipes for the home cook’s favorite foods.  To do this, they test every recipe 20, 30, sometimes up to 100 times in their own 2,500 square foot test kitchen where they make the mistakes so you don’t have to.  They also test and recommend which kitchen equipment is the best to use, which supermarket ingredients really make a difference and which techniques work best for the home cook.  And because Cook’s Illustrated is advertising free, you can trust their objective ratings to identify what products are worth your money and which to avoid. Subscribe to Cooks Illustrated here, or sign up for the Perfectly Plated Sweepstakes for the chance to win $5,000 in merchandise from Ballard Designs.

For a year-round fresh tomato sauce recipe with summertime flavor, we started with cherry tomatoes and then added more flavor by tossing them with a little sugar as well as salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and garlic slivers. We then roasted them in a single layer, which cooked off excess liquid and produced sweet and concentrated results in just 35 minutes. With our final touches of basil and cheese, we had produced a fresh tomato sauce you can make any time of year.

Recipe: Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil
Serves: 4 to 6
Grape tomatoes can be substituted, but because they also tend to be sweeter, you will want to reduce or even omit the sugar. Do likewise if your cherry tomatoes are very sweet, but this is less likely when using winter cherry tomatoes.
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes (2 pounds), each tomato halved pole to pole
  • Table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, toss shallots with 1 teaspoon oil; set aside. In medium bowl, gently toss tomatoes with remaining oil, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper flakes, black pepper,
  2. sugar, vinegar, and garlic. Spread in even layer on rimmed baking sheet (about 17 by 12 inches), scatter shallots over tomatoes; roast until edges of shallots begin to brown and tomato skins are slightly shriveled (tomatoes should
  3. retain their shape), 35 to 40 minutes. (Do not stir tomatoes during roasting.) Remove tomatoes from oven and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. While tomatoes cook, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot. Just before removing tomatoes from oven, stir 1 tablespoon salt and pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. Using rubber spatula, scrape tomato mixture into pot on top of pasta. Add basil and toss to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling cheese over individual bowls.

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