Orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes!
When I first saw this recipe from Puglia for orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes, I just had to rush out to buy the ingredients so I could cook it immediately! It was love at first bite and I’ve made it a number of times since. This is a perfect summer pasta dish.
Orecchiette con pomodorini al forno.
Update: This orecchiette recipe was first published in 2017 but I have updated it. This time I made it with homemade pasta (recipe coming soon) and homegrown cherry tomatoes. Even the onion came from our garden! Absolutely Amazing with a capital ‘A’!
Here in Italy, most pasta sauces are created in a deep frying pan to which the pasta is added once cooked. Yes, Italians generally mix the cooked pasta with the sauce before plating it, rather than serve the sauce sitting on top of the pasta.
I guess this makes sense. After all, in order to really enjoy any pasta-sauce combination, each piece or strand of pasta needs to be coated with sauce. This is difficult to do on a plate without making a mess or ending up with sauce-less pasta pieces on your plate.
There are some sauces which are not created in a pan and this recipe for orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes is one I came across some years ago and was immediately intrigued by. Here, the condiment ingredients are roasted topped with breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese and a generous amount of olive oil.
Puglia and orecchiette pasta.
This recipe for orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes comes from Bari in Puglia and is sometimes also called ‘alla Barese’. However, there are a number of other pasta recipes from Puglia or different versions of pasta with roasted tomatoes also called ‘alla Barese’. Like this recipe for a pasta salad.
Since orecchiette are quintessentially Apulian, they are the perfect pasta partner for this sauce. This time round, we actually made the orecchiette ourselves! However, you can use dried or ready made fresh orecchiette or other pasta like penne. Even long pasta would work if you prefer.
The roasted tomatoes.
I have long been in love with roasted cherry tomatoes. In fact, in the last years, I have been serving them on everything, not just pasta! Roasting small tomatoes gives them a wonderful depth of flavour which cannot be replicated in a frying pan. The same is true for other veggies and even some fruit. Last year, I discovered roasted grapes, but that’s another story!
This year we had a ton of cherry tomatoes in our veg garden so I was able to use homegrown ones. The only alteration I made to the original recipe was to use baby yellow pear tomatoes as well as red cherry tomatoes. These tomatoes have a sweeter, more subtle taste than the red ones and, of course, make the dish look even more attractive. However, you can use just red tomatoes.
Roast the sauce!
In this orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes recipe, the tomatoes with the other ‘sauce’ ingredients; onion, garlic, oregano and basil, are generously coated with EVO and then topped with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and pecorino and roasted. I loved the flavour that the roasted onion also gave to this dressing and the texture created by the breadcrumbs.
Before serving, I grated ricotta salata over the dish. Ricotta salata is an Italian cheese made from the whey part of sheep’s milk, which is pressed, salted and aged for at least 90 days. It is milky white in colour with a firm texture and salty taste. It’s very popular in the Southern Italian regions and often grated on pasta dishes.
If you can’t find this cheese you can either use an aged feta or just more pecorino. Instead of pecorino you can also use parmigiano. NB. Strict vegetarians will need to replace the pecorino or parmigiano with a vegetarian hard cheese.
What to do with the leftovers.
In some recipes for this dish, once the pasta is mixed with the sauce, it is put in the oven or under the grill to make the top crispy. I didn’t do this when I first served it, but I did it with the leftovers! All I can say is YUMMY!! This dish can also be eaten tepid or cold, making it a wonderful summer recipe.
If you make this orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Other orecchiette recipes to try.
- Orecchiette with meatballs
- Orecchiette with Nduja and eggplant
- with broccoli rabe (rapini)
- Homemade orecchiette
Save this recipe for later?
If you want to save this orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.
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Orecchiette pasta with roasted tomatoes (con pomodori al forno)
- 400 g orecchiette (14oz) homemade or fresh is better
- 35 cherry tomatoes cut in half (I used red & yellow)
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 50 g pecorino Romano (2oz) grated
- 50 g ricotta salata (2oz) grated
- salt for pasta and to taste
- pepper to taste
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
- Peel and chop the onion, wash and cut the cherry tomatoes in half, peel the garlic, tear basil leaves into pieces.
- Put the onion, garlic, some basil leaves, oregano and tomatoes (cut side up) into an oven dish.
- Coat the sauce ingredients with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with breadcrumbs and grated pecorino.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 180°c for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, put a pot of water onto boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Fresh or homemade orecchiette doesn't take very long to cook.
- Strain the pasta and add it to the oven dish once the tomatoes are ready and after removing the garlic cloves.
- Mix all the ingredients together well and serve with grated ricotta salata and a few more chopped basil leaves.
- Buon appetito!
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