You’ll cook the pasta and make the pesto in the time it takes to roast the little tomatoes. The amount of oil in the dish is flexible; a bit is added to the roasting tomatoes, a bit to the cooked pasta, and the rest goes into the pesto. The pesto is
intentionally a bit thick, as it will distribute itself nicely over the pasta and tomatoes when tossed, but you can always add a little more oil if you want a more fluid pesto.
By no means do you have to use cavatappi – it was the pasta I grabbed at the moment, and I do love its compact, chewy, twisted little shape.
Another thing to love is the fact that this can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It’s a great make-ahead dish, hanging out happily for a day in the fridge before being brought to room temperature and served. It’s very portable.
And it’s not too hard on the eyes either. Yellow tomatoes are a nice burst of sunny color, but you can use red too, or a mix of colors.
CAVATAPPI WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES AND PESTO
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
5 sprigs fresh thyme
About ½ cup olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound cavatappi or other chunky pasta
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tomatoes and thyme sprigs on the baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they are wrinkly and slightly collapsed.
While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, make the pesto. Place the garlic and basil in a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is roughly chopped. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper and process, scraping down the sides part way through until everything is well blended. If it is very thick, add a bit more olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse until blended in. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Cook the cavatappi according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with the cooking water, the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more if it seems dry) and the roasted tomatoes (discard the thyme sprigs), and transfer to a serving bowl. Dollop the pesto on top, and toss. Serve hot, warm or cold.
PER SERVING: 560 calories; 227 calories from fat; 26 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 406 mg sodium; 60 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 18 g protein.