Angel Hair Pasta in Roasted Tomato Pink Sauce
Angel hair pasta is a round-rod pasta and is the thinnest vermicelli noodles. I like to simply sauté it in butter and pair it with roasted tomatoes. I add grilled eggplant to give a meaty texture to the tomato sauce and also add a "hint" of cream to make the dish richer. If I haven't said it enough times, that's why they invented treadmills.
I made this today because my uncle came over for dinner. He became a vegetarian more than 10 years ago, even though he was an avid carnivore before. He eats tofu every day and always tells me how much he craves pasta (his wife cooks Vietnamese food exclusively). So I made his favorite dish accompanied by a pink tomato sauce. For dessert, I made another favorite of his as well: chocolate lava cake. I think he enjoyed the meal but by the end he was complaining: "Jackie, my cholesterol, my cholesterol". Ehh, he ate it all...
Yields: 122 packages angel hair pasta
25 baby roma tomatoes
1 yellow onion, cut in thin wedges
1 Tbs horseradish mustard
2 Tbs sugar, if necessary
1/3 cup olive oil, as needed
10 cloves garlic, halved
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
4 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, + extra for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sea salt, + extra for pasta water
1 tsp white peppercorns
1/3 cup parmesan cheese powder, freshly ground, + extra when serving
Preheat the oven at 400°F.
For the grilled eggplants: Trim eggplants and slice lengthwise into 5 pieces. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the eggplant slices on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel. Brush a hot griddle pan with olive oil. Drizzle oil on the eggplant slices. Place the slices on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 3-4 minutes on each side) on a medium heat. Remove from the pan. Cut the grilled eggplants into 2 to 2-1/2 inches chunks. Set aside.
For the roasted baby roma tomatoes: Slice the baby roma tomatoes in half. Grease a baking sheet with a little olive oil. Place the tomatoes skin side down. Add the onion wedges. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of sliced basil, oregano and rosemary. Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes at 375°F. Let the tomatoes cool for a few minutes. Reserve about 1 dozen roasted tomato halves for a nice presentation.
For the angel hair pasta: Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and the pasta will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so that the pasta does not stick to the bottom. It may take longer than the cooking time that is written on the box. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), Reserve about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). In a large pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil . Add the halved garlic. Cook until it's completely golden. Transfer the garlic to a plate. In the same pan, add the sliced shallot. Cook until it's golden. Add the angel hair pasta and butter. Add about 1/2 the amount of the golden garlic. Toss the pasta using tongs for about 3-4 minutes. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little pasta water. Transfer to a large serving platter.
For the roasted tomato pink sauce: In a food processor, coarsely pulse the rest of the roasted tomatoes and onion (about 4 pulses). In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil. Add the tomato paste, pulsed tomatoes, sugar (if needed), red chili flakes, 1/3 cup of pasta water, parmesan powder, horseradish mustard, 1 tablespoon of sliced basil and the remaining golden garlic. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the heavy cream. Stir well. Add the rest of the halved roasted tomatoes and grilled eggplant chunks. Cook for another minute. Add the rest of the basil.
Assembly time: On each plate, place some angel hair pasta and some roasted tomato pink sauce. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese powder and garnish with basil leaves.
You can also make the same dish with regular spaghettini or capellini pasta, which are thicker than angel hair pasta.
If the tomatoes are naturally very sweet, do not add sugar (I didn't). It's important that you do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator. It might alter their flavor.
I picked baby roma tomatoes because I find them to be a lot sweeter than the regular (much bigger) ones. I did not choose cherry tomatoes either beacuse the skin tends to be thicker (and unpleasant in the mouth) when roasted.
I finely chop a chunk of parmesan and place the pieces in a mini food processor to obtain parmesan powder.June 8, 2009.