You know what's great? A dish that can pull double duty. It's simple enough for a weeknight meal, but feels special enough for a date night or company. This pasta definitely pulls double duty. It comes together so easily -- while your tomatoes and onions roast in the oven, you get started on an easy but ever so luxurious sauce on the stove while your pasta boils.
It's a fulfilling meal for busy weeknights, but it also makes for a perfect meal for a date night in. Or if you're having some company over and you want to wow them but not over-commit yourself on difficulty or budget, this fits the bill perfectly.
The roasted tomatoes and onions get sweet and a little browned in the oven which adds a depth of flavor you just wouldn't get on the stove. The sauce is creamy and silky but still feels light. You get a good dose of your daily veggies from the spinach and peas and it's all topped with a good helping of fresh basil which brightens up the whole dish. I love making this vegetarian, but you definitely could add Italian sausage, grilled chicken, or even shrimp to amp up your protein intake for the day.
I suggest using a short cut pasta like farfalle, rotini, or penne, but you can use whatever you like or have on hand. I find the short cut pasta really grabs onto the sauce the best, but there is no harm in using spaghetti, linguini, or whatever else you like.
I've been playing with this recipe for over a year and I think I finally got it to the right place. It's so satisfying and craveable. I think you're going to love it.
Roasted Tomato Pasta
(Makes ~ 4 servings)
Cook time: 45 minutes
Click below to download and print the recipe
1/2 lb. short cut pasta, such as rotini, farfalle, or penne (or any other fun shape you like)
1/2 of an onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1.5lbs. vine ripened or roma tomatoes, cut into 1/3" thick circles then cut in half to make a half circle (see photo)
1 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 TB flour
2 TB tomato paste
3/4 C. white wine (chardonnay or something else dry, not sweet)
3/4 C. half and half
1/2-3/4 C. grated parmesan cheese (amount to your liking)
2-3 good handfuls of fresh spinach
1/2-3/4 C. frozen peas (amount to your liking)
3 TB thinly sliced fresh basil
Preheat oven to 425° and get a large pot of water over heat to start boiling for your pasta.
Place tomatoes in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Mound the sliced onions together in a corner of the same baking sheet. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix around the onions to make sure they're all coated with oil and seasoning. Then spread the onions around the pan in the open spaces between the tomatoes and some layered on top of tomatoes (see photo above). It's ok if some of the onions remain clumped together on part of the pan.
Roast the tomatoes and onions in the oven for 20 minutes, checking after 15 minutes to make sure they're not burning or browning too quickly. You'll want the onions to begin to turn brown, but not totally caramelized (or burned). The tomatoes should be softened, releasing juices, and some may have some browning.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Reserve 1/2 C. of the starchy cooking water for the sauce before draining.
While the pasta cooks and the tomatoes roast, get started on your sauce. In a large pan over medium heat, heat 1 TB of olive oil. When the oil is warm (but not sizzling hot), add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant then add the flour. Whisk the flour into the olive oil to create a paste and cook for about a minute.
Next add the tomato paste to the pan and whisk it together into the oil and flour paste until combined.
Slowly add in the wine, whisking as you go to avoid lumps and to absorb the tomato paste/flour mixture into the wine. Next add in the milk, repeating the whisking to fully incorporate everything. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened.
Add the parmesan to the pan and stir to combine. Then add the peas, spinach, and cooked pasta, along with 2 TB of the starchy cooking water from the pasta, tossing everything together to coat the pasta.
Add the roasted tomatoes and onions to the pan and stir everything to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water, 1 TB at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. The sauce should be thickened but pourable.
Lastly, stir in the fresh basil.
Check for salt and pepper then serve up in a big pasta bowl.
*Recipe notes + Variations*
The directions for how to place the tomatoes and onions on the pan are that way because I found that if the onions are on the pan by themselves, they burn very quickly because they are sliced so thin, but you want them thin so they melt into the sauce and you don't bite into a thick piece of onion.
You'll want to line your baking sheet with parchment paper otherwise everything will stick to the pan. It also makes for easy transferring from the baking sheet to the pan on the stove.
The white wine adds a depth of flavor to this that is excellent, but if you do not want to use wine or you don't have any, you can substitute chicken or veggie broth.
Add protein to this with grilled chicken, Italian sausage, shrimp, or even mushrooms.
If you use regular spinach (opposed to baby spinach), I suggest tearing the leaves with your hands to make smaller pieces.
Feel free to mix up what kind of veggies you want in here. Kale or chard would work really well instead of spinach and you could sub asparagus for the peas if you'd like. Just a few ideas!
Use any pasta you like. I found that the short cut pasta makes for a better bite with everything and holds onto the sauce the best, but you're welcome to use spaghetti or any other long pasta. The photos of this were taken when I cooked with a really fun shape from Sfoglini called cascatelli (Not an ad! But I recommend checking it out).