Most of my recipes are very much ingredient focused. I'm not the type who uses many spices and seasonings to create a dish. I much prefer using a few standout ingredients, using simple additions like a good sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and maybe a bit of lemon juice to achieve my desired effect. This recipe is a perfect example of keeping ingredients whole and simple.
Summer is truly tomato heaven. It's during this time of year I really find I use fresh tomatoes in nearly every meal I make. Farmers markets [or your own tomato crop!] are always ideal, but these days, even your local grocery will have a bountiful variety. It was at Trader Joe's where I came across this batch of baby heirlooms.
They remind me of jewel-like gumdrops [albeit not saccharine] that I could just pop in my mouth like candy.
When colors are this rich and perfect, I typically just keep things simple, slice them up and toss them with pasta and a bit of olive oil and garlic. But since I let these babies go a little longer than I should have, I thought it would be best to roast them, and see if I could concentrate that ripened flavor even more.
For this recipe, I decided to go with orecchiette, a pasta that received its name due to its resemblance of ears [little known fact!]. I thought the small shape would work well with these particular tomatoes.
To pair alongside my tomatoes, and to add a bit of heft to the meal, I roasted a few chicken breasts [quickly marinated with sea salt, cracked pepper, lemon juice and olive oil].
The tomatoes were also simply prepared, with just a drizzle of olive oil, red pepper flakes, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, and sea salt.
The tomatoes are meant to be roasted for at least a couple hours, but we were rather impatient and hungry, so these only got just over an hour, but still were fantastic.
So fantastic and delicious in appearance, I snapped a blurry photo of the pan, and made quick work of getting to the eating portion of the evening.
Here's the recipe breakdown:
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Pasta with Grilled Chicken
- 2 cups baby heirloom tomatoes [or cherry], halved
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta [or whichever is your favorite pasta shape, really]
- 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 3 cups spinach roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Parmesan Cheese [optional]
- Salt and Pepper [to taste]
Preheat your oven to 250F. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Toss with garlic cloves and roast for 1-2 hours [depending on how impatient you are!].
In the meantime, prepare your chicken by combining lemon juice, sea salt [any salt will do, but I'm quite partial to sea], pepper and olive oil [just a drizzle] and pour over the chicken. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then heat your grill pan and grill, 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.
Once tomatoes are close to being done [maybe 10 minutes to go], prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Slice or dice the chicken breasts and set aside. Once the tomatoes are done, squeeze the garlic out of its husks and into a large skillet [I use this braising pan]. Heat on medium a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté spinach with red pepper flakes and sea salt for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze pan with chicken broth, then add the chicken, tomatoes and pasta and combine.
Serve immediately with parmesan cheese.