Baked Cherry Tomato Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs, panko works great here
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound dried fusilli (corkscrew) or farfalline (butterfly) pasta
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced

Heat your oven to 400°F. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange the tomatoes in the dish, cut side up.In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses, and garlic and toss with a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then the 1 more tablespoon of the olive oil. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and the crumbs are starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.

While they bake — as in, right away — bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until one minute shy of done. (If you can, try to time the pasta so it finishes cooking about the time the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven.)

When the tomatoes are done, add the basil and use a fork to stir and lightly mash the tomatoes into a rough sauce. Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to the baking dish. Add the last 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix well. Serve at once, right in your baking dish.