Roasted Tomatoes with Mozzarella, Bacon on Linguine


We just set our clocks forward, spring training baseball is finally here and the Catholic church next to our home is holding Lenten fish fries … all harbingers of spring in my book and I can’t wait! Maybe that’s why I was jonesing for some homegrown tomatoes as I was wandering around the produce section of our local grocery store. Of course there were none to be had so I grabbed the closest thing I could find … tomatoes packaged with the vines still intact … it may just be a marketing ploy, but it worked on me.


Now that I had them, what to do next? To avoid the potential disappointment of serving them raw and having them taste nothing like the home-grown varieties I was longing for … I decided to roast them. You really can’t go wrong with roasting vegetables.

I completed my rounds through the grocery store and grabbed everything I thought would go well with the roasted tomatoes that were running through my brain … fresh mozzarella, bacon, linguine, capers, garlic … check-check-check. Am I the only one that goes into the grocery store without a plan and aimlessly wanders around until I come up with an idea? I hope not!

After getting home I sliced the tomatoes in half around their equator and cut out just a bit out of the center. They got popped in the oven on a foil wrapped (and generously oiled) baking sheet. Along with them went the bacon also on a foil wrapped baking sheet. A co-worker clued me in on baking bacon and it’s the best … cooks evenly and when you’re done simply remove the foil and place your clean baking sheet back in the cabinet. In this case the oven was set to 385° on convection mode … your mileage and cooking times may vary. The bacon finished long before the tomatoes, so I removed it, transferred the strips to dry on some paper towels and scooped up a couple of teaspoons of bacon drippings before I pitched the foil. The bacon drippings were added to a skillet along with 3 tbsp. of butter, 2 tbsp of EVOO, 3-4 tsp of capers and 4 large cloves of garlic that had been finely chopped. This mixture was simmered on low heat until the garlic started to brown.

While this is going on the tomatoes are still merrily roasting in the oven, after about 35-40 minutes I removed them for the next stage. Slice the ball of mozzarella into ¼ thick slices and place on top of the partially roasted tomatoes. If necessary trim the cheese slices so they don’t hang too far over the sides of the tomatoes. Top the mozzarella with bacon pieces and place back in the oven.

Ready to go back in the oven!


The linguine is going to take 9-10 minutes to cook, so start that after the tomatoes have been in the oven an additional 5 or so minutes. At this point switch your oven to broil to get that nice slightly browned finish to the cheese. Once the cheese achieves that state, turn off the oven but leave the tomatoes in until everything else is ready. Drain the linguine and toss in the skillet with you butter-garlic-caper sauce and top with a generous grind of coarse black pepper. Place the roasted tomatoes on top of the pasta along with a sprinkle of fresh or dried parsley.

I was preparing this for 4 servings so I used about 12 ozs. of pasta, obviously if you need more or less servings, everything else scales accordingly.

My families input afterwards … more tomatoes, less pasta … I will keep that in mind because we will be doing this again!

Another roasted tomato recipe



Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach


An old Italian man lived alone in Jersey. It was spring and he wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very hard work for the aging man, as the ground had compacted over winter. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,

I am feeling sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If only you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son:

Dear Papa,

Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.

Love, Vinnie

At 7:00 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived at the old man’s house and dug up the entire garden area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day, the old man received another letter from his son:

Dear Papa,

Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.

Love, Vinnie

Aaah, the things we will do for a good tomato … but lets get cooking!

This dish will delight at least 3 of your senses, it looks great, smells wonderful and tastes delicious. I guess if you ate it with your fingers we could add one more sense to the list (let me know how that works out for you).

Orecchiette pasta originates in the sunny southern province of Puglia, Italy and translated means, “Little Ears”). Traditionally made by curling bits of pasta dough over one’s thumb, the little cup-like shape is great for holding sauces and veggies. It’s slightly chewy texture is the perfect complement to the intense flavors of the roasted tomatoes. Continue reading “Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach”