Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Here's a recipe to put on your calendar for a few weeks from now, when local tomatoes are really, truly in season.

Or, then again, it might come in handy now--say, if you have a child whose response to every item sold at the grocery store is "I want that." And if that child also, theoretically of course, has a parent (I'm not saying which one) inclined to indulge her every whim. And if grape tomatoes bought on such a whim turn out, predictably, to be rather tough and flavorless, prompting the child to sensibly decline actually eating them. And if you're therefore wondering what to do with a few handfuls of grape tomatoes starting to shrivel up in your fridge.

Then--THEN--this recipe will be right up your alley.

Whether you make it now or later, it's summer cooking at its finest--a short list of ingredients, steps you can do ahead of time, a quick final assembly, and a result that goes nicely with a cold, fruity wine.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel, and Italian Sausage

1 bunch baby fennel, or a medium-sized fennel bulb
1 C grape or cherry tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

6 oz dried pasta--penne or rotelle or a similar short, chunky shape
About 3.5 ounces Italian sausage or veggie Italian sausage
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Wash the fennel and chop it into 1/2-inch pieces. Wash the tomatoes. Put in a square baking dish and toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the tomatoes start to wrinkle and the fennel is tender. You can do this ahead of time--in the morning if a hot afternoon is in the offing, or even a day or two ahead.

When you're ready for dinner, put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When the water boils add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a largeish skillet. Slice up the sausage and saute it for a few minutes, until it's nicely browned--turning once halfway through. Deglaze the pan with a little balsamic vinegar. Then add the roasted fennel and tomatoes and heat through.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing everything together. Pour the wine.

Serves 2 or 3