Sunday, July 11, 2010

pasta ponza

I've been away from home--on and off--for the better part of the past two months. What have I missed most of all? Cooking (and good food). But after a day of unpacking, doing countless loads of laundry, and generally putting my life back in order, I didn't want to do much in the kitchen this evening ... yet I did want to do something. So I thumbed through Giada's latest book, looking for a tasty (and simple) solution. Behold, page 85: Pasta Ponza.

pasta ponza (Giada de Laurentiis)


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.

Combine the tomatoes, capers, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat.

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.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 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. :)


  1. Very pretty, and looks yummy. But how prominent were the capers, as far as taste? Would it be a big deal to leave them out? I'm just not a huge caper fan.

    Glad you got a chance to cook ... I'm looking forward to the same.

  2. That looks so good. Both the pasta and the drink. :)

  3. E ... The capers weren't overpowering at all; but you could taste 'em every bite or two. I love capers, so I could've doubled the amount and been fine with the outcome; but you could always cut the measurement in half if they're not your thing. It's an easy recipe and pretty flavorful.

    CG ... the drink may have been better than the pasta. :)

  4. Yum! Thanks for sharing it with me today at lunch :)