pasta ponza (Giada de Laurentiis)
4 to 6 SERVINGS
Ponza is an island off the west coast of Italy ... Like all the best pasta dishes, this one is simple; what makes it special is how the sauce comes together. The tomatoes and capers are roasted with a bread crumb topping, concentrating their flavors and making them very juicy with a crunchy crust. When they're mixed with the hot pasta and cheese, the textures and flavor explode in your mouth. This just might be my favorite recipe in the book!
Unsalted butter for greasing
2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or more, to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more, to taste
1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned dried bread crumbs
1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta
1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8x8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture.
Drizzle the top with olive oil.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden.Cool for 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup on the pasta water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta.
Add the cheese and toss well.
If needed, thin out the sauce with a little pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.
Notes: I used Parmigiano Reggiano, rather than Romano cheese. It worked fine. Also, I added red pepper flakes--a much-needed kick. Finally, next time I make it, I'll finish the dish by sprinkling a little more Italian breadcrumbs on top then baking for a few minutes. It needed a tad of some kind of golden crispiness as a topper. Otherwise, super easy and tasty.
Oh ... almost forgot ... pairs well with gin & tonic. :)