It is definitely worth making a batch of slow roasted tomatoes on a summer weekend because dinner during the week becomes a breeze (and a delicious one at that)! I have always struggled with frozen ravioli–placed into a big pot of boiling water a number of them fall apart and gum up everything. It doesn’t even seem to matter what type it is, they all become a soggy mess. I decided to try cooking it in small batches in a low pan hoping that would control the chaos. It worked! and made clean up much easier than a huge pasta pot. It also gave me a richer pasta water to use for the sauce.
8-12 ripe tomatoes (depending on size), from a farm stand or farmer’s market if possible
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
3-4 cloves of garlic (again depending on size)
dried basil or dried thyme (fresh thyme sprigs can be substitute if you have it, but fresh basil just burns)
1 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
one package of frozen ravioli in the flavor of your choice
ricotta or parmigiana cheese (depending on the flavor of the ravioli)
FOR THE TOMATOES:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Line a large pan with low sides (a sheet pan if you have one) with foil.
3. Place 1/3 cup of olive oil in the pan.
4. Wash the tomatoes and slice in half across their equators.
5. Place the tomato halves cut side up in the pan, rolling around to coat the bottom with olive oil.
6. Slice the garlic cloves into medium thin slices and place on top of the tomatoes.
7. Sprinkle the thyme or basil on the tomatoes.
8. Pour the balsamic or red wine vinegar over the tomatoes
9. Sprinkle the sugar, salt and pepper over the tomatoes, and finish by pouring the remainder of the olive oil over the top.
10. Roast in the oven for 2 to 4 hours, turning the pan after one hour so they cook evenly and pressing down lightly (they will squirt) on the tomatoes if they haven’t started to release their juices.
11. When the tomatoes have flattened and are beginning to brown/blacken on the edges they are done.
12. These can be made as far ahead as you want and frozen in plastic bags along with their oil (which has great flavor) in individual portions to use when needed. They can also be used right away. If there is any oil left in the pan, sop it up along with the remaining brown bits on a piece of bread (that’s usually Kate’s job).
FOR THE RAVIOLI:
1. Fill a mid-size low casserole or large fry pan with at least 2″ sides about 3/4 of the way with water and bring to a boil.
2. Place a spoonful of the roasted tomato with its oil in the bottom of a serving bowl and set aside.
3. Add the ravioli 6 to 8 pieces at a time (3 batches are typical for one package) and boil until tender (check by removing one ravioli and snipping just a little off a corner. That’s the thickest part and if its tender the ravioli is cooked. If you snip too much, though, don’t return the ravioli to the pot or you will have a mess).
4. When the first batch is done, using a slotted spoon remove the ravioli and place in the serving bowl gently turning to coat with oil. DO NOT DRAIN THE PASTA WATER!
5. Add the second and third batches in succession, treating the same way and adding a little more roasted tomatoes and oil to the serving bowl before adding each new batch.
6. When all the ravioli is done still do not discard the cooking water. Add a few tablespoons at a time to the pasta serving bowl mixing to create a light sauce with the roasted tomatoes and oil.
7. Serve, topping the ravioli with your cheese of choice.