Slow-Roasted Tomatoes over Spaghetti

Fall has landed in the northwest with a thud. One day it was a sunny 80° and the next it was barely 70° with an undeniable crispness in the air. I can’t say as I am disappointed, as a lover of scarves, boots, squash, and soup, autumn is my favorite time of year. The arrival of apples at the market usually is a precursor for me for the start of the school year, but this year for the first time since kindergarten, I’m not a student. Without this traditional marker for the changing of the seasons I’m left floundering for a routine. The seasonal changes of the vegetables are somehow leading me from summer into fall. Tomatoes to potatoes and zucchini to butternut squash. I picked a few yellow and orange tomatoes yesterday to ripen on the windowsill and with a few more days of sun I might get another handful.

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I made the most of a couple pints of Sungold and Cherry tomatoes waiting not so patently in the fridge (to keep them away from the fruit flies) with some fresh herbs, a few splashes of olive oil and several hours in the oven. What came out was the most delightful plate of spaghetti I’ve ever eaten. The tomatoes slowly cooked down to a rich sweetness with caramelized edges that burst when you bit into them. The salt and fresh herbs brought out the acidity which I found perfectly coupled with a smear of goat cheese. The dinner table conversation was sparse as we slipped long spaghetti noodles around our forks and reveled in that space between summer and autumn.
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Slow-Roasted Tomatoes over Spaghetti

Variations on this theme have been written about all over the blogosphere. It probably originated with Ms. Greenspan, whose guidelines I worked with. This is a very unpretentious recipe, that perhaps can’t really be called a recipe. Take it as guidelines, play around, enjoy.

1 pint cherry, grape, or sungold tomatoes (or a combination there of)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
several unpeeled, smashed cloves of garlic
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
several sprigs of fresh herbs, whatever you have around. I used thyme and rosemary.
1/2 pound of spaghetti
several leaves of fresh basil
additional olive oil

Preheat oven to 225°. Slice the tomatoes in half and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a small spoon or a pastry brush dab each tomato half with live oil. They don’t need a lot, just enough to glisten. Place the garlic cloves sporadically around the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Crush the herbs in your hand a bit and sprinkle them around the sheet. Cook in the oven for 2-3 hours. As you approach the 2 hour mark check them to see if they are soft, little wrinkly and caramelized, but not dried out. At the 2 hour mark I turned off the oven but kept them warm for a while longer. When they are ready, remove them from the oven and carefully remove the woody herb stems and the peel from the garlic.

Just before the tomatoes are done, cook spaghetti according to package. Drain the pasta and toss in a serving bowl with olive oil. Top the pasta with tomatoes and sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve with parmesan or goat cheese.

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