Use Real Tomatoes

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.

15 thoughts on “Use Real Tomatoes

  1. This looks great… but where has the heatwave gone!? Last week was lovely and now it’s just grey and raining again, got to love the Scottish weather!

  2. I am going to the farmer’s market this week, and I hope I find some good tomatoes so I can feast on this on Saturday. What a great recipe, thanks!

  3. Jenny – I really don’t know. It’s grey but dry and still warm up here. Very aware that it could be MUCH worse so am still quite happy. :))

    Twobarkingdogs – Hope you enjoy it. It’s all about the tomatoes!

    Christina – It’s disappeared for the moment giving Marco a chance to go mad on his walks again. He wilted for a while. Do hope we get some more though!

    Aforkfullofspaghetti – Couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  4. Looks great! I was thinking that I wouldn’t even bother getting into ‘the water’ (beach, pool, lake, dam) for anything under 30 degs! How different and lovely it must be on the other side of the world. Hope it stays warm…

  5. in Melbourne, heatwave is when you can’t bear to turn on the oven but your version of a heatwave with temperatures of 25 and a beautiful pasta bake sounds just glorious

  6. mmm, the tomatoes are finally here! I am glad you got some rays all the way up there. Down here we had too much 30 degrees and sometimes more for a week. I cannot find the words to convey the horrors of London transport in that heat. I managed to walk most places but once had to get on the tube. Oh. my. God.

    Anyway, raining now! I expect it is up there too! 🙂

  7. Em – Anything over 30oC is utterly unbearable for me!

    Lucy – Thank you. It’s gone for the moment, unfortunately. Hoping it’ll return for a while…

    Johanna – It was pretty great. 🙂

    Silx – Aww, thank you so much. That’s very sweet of you to say. 🙂

    Helen – Yeah, I’ve done the tube in those heats quite a few times. Grim, grim, grim.

    Annemarie – I’d like to think so.

    Brianna and Dustin – It was just that. 🙂

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