Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Colorful red, gold, yellow, and burgundy cherry tomatoes are a summer staple at the farmers markets. Many also enjoy growing these luscious little bites in their own backyard gardens. After picking, don’t refrigerate tomatoes. Leave tomatoes out at room temperature. A few more days of ripening deepens their flavor and helps to concentrate their natural sweetness. Keep cherry tomatoes on hand for salads, salsas, and snacking.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups small cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more to taste)
Salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon red chile flakes (plus more to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (less, if using dried — but fresh is preferable)
1 pound fresh pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
Freshly ground pepper
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

METHOD:

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, place the cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, generous pinch of salt, sugar and toss to coat the tomatoes well. Line a rimmed half sheet baking with a sheet of parchment paper. Pour the tomatoes onto the baking sheet in an even layer, place pan in the oven, and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to collapse and their skins begin to char. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly. Carefully lift the paper and pour the tomatoes and roasting juices back into the mixing bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red chile flakes and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the roasted tomatoes, accumulated juices, and oregano to the skillet. Using a large spoon, break up the tomatoes and cook until they are heated through.

When the water is boiling, add a scant tablespoon of salt, drop in the pasta, and stir. Cook the pasta until al dente. Remove and reserve some of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the cooked pasta and about 1 tablespoon of the reserved cooking water to the tomato sauce. Stir and toss to thoroughly coat the spaghetti. Add a tablespoon or so of the remaining pasta water if the sauce is too dry or thick; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the pasta into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

VARIATION:
Add 1/2 pound of small peeled shrimp into the skillet with the tomatoes, cook and stir for about 2 minutes, then add two generous handfuls of baby arugula and stir just until arugula begins to wilt.

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