We enjoyed a heatwave last week here in the north of Scotland. I realise that “heatwave” has exceptionally negative connotations for all of you living in warmer climes but up here it tends to be a much celebrated event. Temperatures of 25 oC/77 oF give us a rare chance to get out the summer dresses and deck chairs, to eat ice lollies, drink icy cocktails and to doggedly stay outside with the midges until it gets pitch dark (well after 11pm at the moment).
With such toasty temperatures, it may seem rather odd that I chose to make a baked pasta dish one evening last week but make it I did. The idea came from the rather beautiful Kitchen Unplugged by Viana La Place which was recommended to me by Lucy several weeks ago. La Place’s recipes are exceptionally simple but rely on absolutely perfect ingredients. When I came across the most beautifully ripe tomatoes last week I knew it was the perfect time to try out her Penne Baked with Tomatoes. And it was. A beautifully light dish that felt pure and right for a warm summer’s evening.
Penne Baked with Fresh Tomatoes (based on a recipe from Kitchen Unplugged)
400g dried penne
8 large perfectly ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thickly
Handful of basil leaves, torn
Handful of parmesan, plus more to grate when serving
Extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the penne in plenty of boiling water until not quite al dente – it will cook more as it baked. Drain and toss with seasoning and enough olive oil to just coat the pasta.
- In a large heat proof dish add a layer of pasta topped with tomato slices. Add seasoning, a sprinkling of parmesan, a scattering of basil and some fine slivers of butter. Continue layering until tomatoes and pasta are used up (I only had two layers). Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
- Bake in a 180 oC oven for 20 – 30 minutes until tomatoes are very soft but still holding their shape.
- Serve with a green salad and more parmesan. A few strips of Parma ham is divine with this too.