Grilled Cherry Tomato Pasta with Crisp Breadcrumbs & Basil
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Grilling the tomatoes for this colorful pasta salad intensifies their flavor by concentrating their juices and gives their perfectly shriveled skins a smoky flavor.
Look for inexpensive, disposable bamboo skewers at the supermarket. To avoid burning the tips of the skewers, soak them in water for at least half an hour before grilling.
Serves six as a light main dish or eight to ten as a side dish.
High Heat is Best for Grilling Tomatoes
2 cups red cherry tomatoes (about 12 oz. total)
2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes (about 12 oz. total)
2 cups orange cherry tomatoes (about 12 oz. total)
1 cup very coarse fresh breadcrumbs
6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-1/2 to 4 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
3/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
Prepare a grill by adjusting the grill grate so that it’s 4 to 5 inches from the flame or heat source. Heat a gas grill to high and a charcoal grill to medium hot (the coals should be covered with light ash, and you should be able to hold your hand just over the grate for no more than 3 seconds).Thread the tomatoes on parallel skewers.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, and toss to distribute the oil evenly; season with salt and pepper. Bake in the middle of the oven, tossing occasionally, until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a bowl, whisk the remaining 4 Tbs. olive oil with the balsamic vinegar. Season the vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill the skewered tomatoes, turning occasionally, until the skins darken and blacken in spots and begin to blister and shrivel, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the skewers and set aside.
Cook the orecchiette in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and toss with the tomatoes and the vinaigrette, pour into a serving bowl, and garnish with the breadcrumbs and basil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on ten servings;
photo: Scott Phillips
From Fine Cooking 46
, pp. 51
August 1, 2001