Monday, August 29, 2011

Lidia's Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

This is a delayed blog post due to Hurricane Irene, which has left me and most of Princeton without power. I'm likely to be without power for a while yet (basement waters are receding thankfully), but I've latched onto wifi here at Princeton University, which had power even during the hurricane. (I guess a $14 billion endowment helps buy extra generators - or maybe a private power plant.) I wanted to post this recipe and get on board with other bloggers who posted last week in tribute to Lidia Bastianich, one of the "50 Women Game Changers In Food." Read below for details.

I love my family, don't get me wrong -- but in my next life, I want to come back as the daughter of Lidia Bastianich - or maybe daughter-in-law. Or even the dog. I'll bet the family canine eats as well as the humans in that household. Aside from her recipes, which are all winners, there's something about Lidia that just makes you feel at home. I love watching her show, not only for the great food she creates,and the gorgeous Italian locales, but also for the warm family atmosphere that exudes in her home kitchen. She genuinely loves what she's doing, she loves her family (Oh those adorable grandchildren, and that charming mother of hers!) and she loves her viewers. Having met her, her son, daughter and her mom on several occasions, I can tell you she is just as wonderful in person as she is on television.

I've interviewed her in the past, and you can find those posts here and here. They'll give you a little more insight into the woman from Istria who turned her creative cooking talents into an empire - restaurants in New York, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, award-winning television shows and numerous cookbooks, with a new one  - Lidia's Italy in America - coming out this fall. 

Oh, and let's not forget her line of cooking products and kitchenware, and that she opened the Italian food emporium Eataly, along with Mario Batali and her son Joe.

 I've eaten at all her New York City restaurants, starting from when she and her son Joe ran Frico Bar, at Ninth Ave. and 43rd Street. When it closed in 1999, I mourned the loss of Frico Bar, where you could always find the eponymous Friulian dish made with montasio cheese. But when Esca opened in the same spot, (owned by Lidia, her son and Mario Batali), I fell in love again with the seafood menu there too. From the casual Becco with its trio of pastas, to the more formal Felidia, to the uber elegant and delectable Del Posto, Lidia's restaurants are among my favorite anywhere in the world.

A fellow blogger, Mary of "One Perfect Bite" started a series called "50 Women Game Changers in Food," highlighting women who have been influential in the food industry. I haven't been participating, but when I saw that my favorite chef was featured this week, there was no holding me back. The only problem was deciding which of her recipes to make.

I went to the garden for inspiration yesterday and picked a slew of plum tomatoes ahead of Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit us in Central Jersey tonight. While Lidia's recipe calls for baking the tomatoes in the oven, I roasted mine on the grill, using a disposable aluminum pan. The longer and slower they cook, the more concentrated the flavor, and the bread crumb topping does indeed get crispy even on the grill. Keep it at a low temperature, or you're likely to burn the bottoms of the tomatoes. The tomatoes alone make a delicious side dish, but added to the pasta, you've got a great meal. Just add a green salad.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

Recipe from Lidia's Italy   
serves 6    printable recipe here

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs -- coarsely crushed

2 tablespoons capers -- drained and chopped 

2 tablespoons fresh basil -- chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/3 cups grated Pecorino Romano (or parmigiano)

10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed

1 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes

2 plump garlic cloves -- sliced

1 pound long fusilli -- fusilli lunghi (or other pasta)

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375º 

Put the bread crumbs in a medium-sized bowl and mix the chopped capers, 1 tablespoon of chopped basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the red pepper flakes, oregano and 1/3 cup grated cheese. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of olive oil over the crumbs tossing to moisten and mix thoroughly

Rinse and dry the tomatoes and slice them in half lengthwise. Oil the baking sheet lightly with a bit of the olive oil, working over the bowl of bread crumbs, cover the cut side of each tomato half with a layer of crumb mixture. Compress the crumbs lightly so they stay on and set the tomato crumbs up on the baking sheet. Separate tomatoes as much as possible on the sheet, so all sides are exposed to the heat, drizzle with more olive oil and place in oven.

Pour 4 tablespoons olive oil in small bowl, drop in garlic slice and let steep--you'll use the infused oil for dressing the pasta.

Roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes until the crumbs are nicely browned and the halves are slightly shriveled. Remove sheet from the oven and let tomatoes cool for 15 minutes or so, then slice each one lengthwise, making two narrow wedges, or 3 or 4 if tomatoes are very large.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in 6 quarts of salted water until al dente. Heat a pasta serving bowl with a cup or so of boiling pasta water and drain. Lift pasta out with tongs, when cooked to your liking, and place in warm bowl. 

Immediately scatter with garlic-infused oil and garlic slices and toss well, top with tomato wedges and serve with additional chopped basil and grated cheese.

The following bloggers are also paying tribute to Lidia Bastianich, so stop by and pay them a visit too.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast

Joanne - Eats Well With Others

Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed

Susan - The Spice Garden

Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey

Heather - girlichef

Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney

Jeanette - Healthy Living

April - Abby Sweets 

Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud

Mary - One Perfect Bite

Kathleen -Bake Away with Me

Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen

Sue - The View from Great Island

Barbara - Movable Feasts

Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds

Amy - Beloved Green

Jeanette - Healthy Living 

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  1. This is one of my favorite meals....and I love Lidia too!

  2. Wonderful and inspiring post Linda. You are a trooper searching for a spot to write your post. We also have a wet basement but luckily we never lost power. I too appreciate Lidia for her recipes, restaurants and very good culinary advice. We ate at Felidia's about 30 years ago when we were on our way to a show at the Lincoln Center...I have never forgotten that meal.

  3. You can never go wrong with one of Lidia's recipes. I love this dish! Simple, elegant and delicious!

  4. What a wonderful dish. How wonderful to have met Lidia and her family. I am envious. I really must try this pasta dish. I've never had one of hers that disappoints. I'm so glad you joined in with us. You are always welcome to join in. You asked about rhubarb. We'll have it through mid-October but it starts to look pretty beat-up at this of year. Have a great day.Blessings... Mary

  5. That is one mouthwatering pasta dish! Really beautiful.



  6. You know how I feel about Lidia, I wish I could be in her family too, I love how genuine she is and she cooks out of this world! Love that photo, how awesome that you got to meet her! That pasta looks wonderful, a great meal to make with my tomatoes. I hope your power comes on soon!!!

  7. Linda this pasta looks fabulous. After being cooped up all day yesterday with the storm, I'm going out to pick some veggies. Tomatoes are top of my list so I can try this. I like how simple it is, and the roasted bread crumbs add an unusual touch. Welcome to the group!

  8. Linda, Gorgeous pasta dish! Love the simplicity...and yet it looks so elegant! Glad you survived Irene...we got our power back late last night! So nice that you have met Lidia...she is definitely one of my favorites! Enjoyed your post! Welcome!

  9. Non conosco Lidia personalmente,sono a conoscenza che possiede una casa in Friuli, mi piacerebbe molto conoscerla. Questa pasta è favolosa , sembra che il suo profumo sia arrivato sino a me. Buona settimana Daniela.

  10. This is the perfect pick, Linda - yes all of Lidia's recipes sing - but with the best of these ingredients in high season - you cannot mess this up! Your appreciation and respect for Lidia just shine! One of these days... I will eat in one of her restaurants. I read how hard hit parts of Jersey was... hoping the power and clean-up is a speedy process for all of you.

  11. This looks fabulous. I'm going to do it this weekend. Agreed on LIdia--she is a goddess.

    Sorry about the power.

  12. I adore Lidia's restaurants and her shows too. And this recipe looks fantastic! Simple, tasty and amazing.

  13. Evviva Lidia!

    Linda, did you know she lived in Hudson County early on in her life here in the USA? I learned this during an interview.

    Also interesting: So identified is Lidia with Italian cuisine that most people don't know Lidia knows a very great deal about, and very much enjoys, the Slavic-style cookery familiar to Istrians from their Slovenian and Croatian neighbors ... she is no stranger to sauerkraut or sour cream or paprika ...
    - Show quoted text -
    Michael Redmond
    Union County, New Jersey

  14. Count me in as another huge fan of Lidia. Glad to hear that Irene wasn't as destructive as she could've been - it was nonstop news across the pond! Yay for tomatoes (I am drowning in them right now)

  15. I LOVE Lidia, although I have to admit been so busy this summer with garden and working, I haven't had much time to watch many cooking shows. What channel is her show on? I'm also in Jersey, Philly area.

    Anyway, this recipe looks PERFECT for me right now. I have a bunch of tomatoes that I also picked prior to Hurrican Irene and they're perfect for this dish. My husband grew them from seed. Each tomato is perfectly round, a little bigger than golf ball. I've frozen quite a bit of them, but I think this would be the perfect thing to do with them. Not big on capers though. Any suggestions? I was thinking maybe a little anchovy paste instead?

  16. Love the stuffed tomatoes with the pasta Linda. Lidia is one creative powerhouse!

  17. Hey Linda, Your right about cooking them and then putting them in cheesecloth or the food mill. I have done that in the past, but these were wild grapes and I wanted to make sure there were no worms in them.
    Thanks for the comment!

  18. I love the sound of the dish and have been going crazy using tomatoes so I'm happy to have one more thing to do with them

  19. Lidia è nata in una cittadina vicino a Trieste(la mia città), adesso è Croazia, ha lavorato tanto e merita il suo successo, grazie per aver pubblicato questa interessante ricetta Linda, un abbraccio....

  20. Linda,
    Great minds. I made this dish on Sunday night as the wind was blowing in Summit. Hope you fared well during the storm.

  21. I have been watching Lydia's cooking show on PBS for years and I agree she is a chef extraordinaire! She reminds me of my oldest sister-in-law who is also an authentic and creative Italian cook. They take the simplest, freshest ingredients and work magic making it taste like haute cuisine.

    Roasting tomatoes brings out all their natural flavors so well--as Lydia says it caramelizes them. This is my favorite way to prepare pasta sauce when I have good fresh vine ripened tomatoes available

    I am so sorry to hear that you have suffered with flooding and power outages after Hurricane Irene as have so many other areas. We were very fortunate to experience neither. I was stressed to be away from home during the hurricane, and watching coverage on CNN made me even more stressed. It has been fun, however, to spend time with my kids in Colorado this week. I miss them and my grandsons so much.

    Hope you get power back soon --have a happy Labor Day weekend!

  22. I always say the same thing, I want to be in Lidia's family!! Just imagine growing up cooking with her in the kitchen. She is my inspiration. I also love this recipe, and this cook book. To meet her someday would be fantastic. I ate at Felidia's last year but alas, she was not there :(

  23. I'm a huge Lidia fan too...Looking forward to her new book coming out...I think I've cooked every recipe on all her other books :-)

  24. I love Lidia, Linda, and am looking forward to her new series this fall. I wish she would adopt me, too. This pasta dish with roasted tomatoes looks so appetizing!