A summery, fresh tomato sauce, straight from the oven.
I usually default to canned, crushed San Marzano tomatoes for tomato sauce. But I also think that there is a time and place for fresh. That time and place is usually 1) in the height of summer; 2) in a pandemic when I can’t find good canned tomatoes; or 3) when I overbuy tomatoes and they start to go a little pruney or overripe. This sheet pan pasta pomodoro is the answer.
Ridiculously simple to pull off, this fresh tomato pomodoro requires no stirring, no sauteeing, and no peeling. Just toss the fresh tomatoes with olive oil, onion, salt, and pepper, and let the oven do the work.
You will also like: Springtime Pasta Carbonara and Classic Italian Meatballs
A Few Notes About Sheet Pan Pasta Pomodoro:
- Add the butter. It is optional and will taste great without it, but butter softens the edge off the acid from the tomatoes and helps build the sauce into something really silky and special.
- You want a nice small dice on the onion so that it melts into the sauce instead of being a chunky half tomato, half onion sauce.
- Drain the pasta when it is still short of being al dente. It should still be just this side of underdone. Like many pastas, the spaghetti will finish cooking in the pomodoro sauce, along with a little reserved pasta water. This allows the pasta to actually absorb some of the sauce and its flavor, instead of the sauce just sitting on top of the pasta.
Sheet Pan Pasta Pomodoro
- 1 1/2 pounds grape or other tomatoes (if using large tomatoes, slice into chunks)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 medium onion, diced small
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 large pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional (but do it)
- 12 ounces dried pasta of choice. I recommend spaghetti, buccatini, or fettuccini.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a rimmed half-sheet (18"×13") baking pan with parchment.
- Mix all the ingredients together on the sheet pan, and spread in a single layer.
- Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked well through until very jammy and most of the tomato water/liquid has cooked off.
- While the tomatoes are in the last quarter of their cook time, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the directions, until just before al dente. Drain, reserving some pasta water, and then return the pasta to the dry pot.
- Add the hot cooked tomatoes to the drained pasta with the butter and a couple tablespoons of pasta water. Stir vigorously over very low heat, until the tomatoes break down into a sauce and coat the pasta fully. If the sauce seems too dry or the pasta needs to cook more, add more pasta water as necessary. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve with fresh basil, hot red pepper flakes, and plenty of freshly-grated pecorino-Romano cheese or aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.