Simply Roasted Pasta
|Nothing could be simpler than "dry" roasting a
bunch of asparagus in olive oil and sea salt, a few roma tomatoes and a head of garlic
then mixing all these roasted vegetables with some cooked orecchini for a light and living
The "dry" roasting technique, which uses just a little olive
oil and sea salt, concentrates the natural flavor of the vegetables.
For garlic addicts, puree the roasted garlic with a little hot chicken broth to coat
the pasta and roasted vegetables. If you don't want the all-round flavor of roasted
garlic, then mash a few cloves of roasted garlic and toss them into the pasta as accents.
You can also use the roasted cloves as a spread on bread and mix them into a salad
dressing to accompany this pasta dish.
Roasting Asparagus (and other vegetables):
- Wash bunch of asparagus and cut off the woody stem end. If you have time and want
to create a luxurious dish, then you can peel the
- (If you are using other vegetables such as pencil-thin carrots, zucchini, green onions
and bulb fennel also roast well, then cut them into roughly the same diameter as the
- Preheat oven to 400 - 425°. Arrange the asparagus and other vegetables snuggly in
one large (or 2 small) flat roasting pans (I prefer to use an oven-proof ceramic dish so
the vegetables don't stick and burn on the bottom.)
- Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Roast the vegetables, turning often until they are cooked. This should take about 10
minutes, but some types of vegetables may take longer.
- When they are done, remove them from the oven and set aside until ready to use.
Roasting the Roma Tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- Line a flat baking sheet (with sides) with parchment paper or foil.
- Cut a very thin slice off the top of each tomato then cut it in half, lengthwise.
Arrange the tomato halves on the baking sheet and roast them until the skins begin to
shrivel and pull away (pop up) from the flesh.
- Remove from the oven and pluck the skins off. Put the tomato flesh and cooking
juices into a bowl, roughly chop (as necessary) and set aside until ready to use.
Roasting the Garlic:
- Cut the very top end off the head of garlic, just enough to expose all of the
cloves. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap loosely in aluminum foil and roast in a
250 - 300° oven for about 30-40 minutes. The garlic is done when the cloves are as
soft as mashed potatoes and a light golden brown. (Overcooking or cooking at too
high a temperature will cause the garlic cloves caramelize and harden. Undercooking
will leave them rasty and raw tasting. Garlic, when properly roasted, has a sweet
and succulent flavor, nothing likes it aggressive raw character.)
- When the garlic is done, remove from the oven and let it cool in the foil until ready to
- Using small fork or similar narrow tool (I found a fondue fork or crab fork is ideal for
this job), remove the individual cloves from their skins. If you intend to use the
cloves whole, then remove them carefully. If you will be pureeing them, then there
is no need to be too careful.
- Cook the orecchini, drain and return to the cooking pan.
- Cut the roasted vegetables into bit size pieces and mix into the cooked pasta.
- Roughly cut up the tomatoes and add them to the pasta pan.
- Puree (or mash) the roasted garlic with ¼ cup hot chicken broth and mix it into the
- Heat slowly, stirring continuously until it is thoroughly hot.
- Serve in warm bouillabaisse bowls accompanied by a green salad dressed with a roasted garlic vinaigrette.
- Peeling Asparagus: If
I have time, I like to peel the stalk using a vegetable peeler starting from the stem
end. When roasting asparagus, this step is optional, but it's really worth the
- Pasta: We like orecchini ("little
ears") for this dish, but any sturdy shape will do. I have a strong preference
for Delverde brand pasta. It has a superior texture and flavor.
- Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette: A
vinaigrette made with roasted garlic has a surprisingly sweet flavor. It can be used
as a dressing for salads, any steamed vegetables or plain asparagus served as a first
1. Mash 1-2 cloves of roasted garlic in a small bowl.
2. Gradually add 1 TBS balsamic vinegar.
3. After the vinegar and garlic have been blended thoroughly, gradually whisk in 3
TBS olive oil with a fork.