Roasted Tomato, Garlic and Red Pepper Sauce with Pici
A flavorful roasted tomato sauce tops thick pasta to feed a crowd.
- Olive oil, for liberal drizzling
- 2 bulbs garlic, ends cut to expose cloves
- 4-5 pounds Roma or plum tomatoes, halved
- Salt and pepper
- Several sprigs fresh thyme (10-12)
- 2 red field peppers or large bell peppers
- 4 leaves basil
- 1 1/2 pounds pici or bucatini pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic bulbs and wrap them tightly in a foil pouch. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until golden and very soft; remove and reduce the heat to 350°F.
Arrange the tomatoes on two baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Strip 5-6 small stems of thyme for each pan and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Roast for 1 hour, or until well-slumped.
Char the peppers over an open flame on a stovetop or under a broiler until the skins are evenly blackened and papery at the edges. Place in a bowl; cover and cool. Peel and seed the peppers.
Working in two batches, place a tray of tomatoes, the cloves from one bulb of roasted garlic squished from the skins, one roasted red pepper and two leaves of fresh basil in high-power blender (like a Vitamix) or a food processor and puree. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes, garlic, pepper and basil. Combine in a pot and simmer to keep warm.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil; salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve a little of the starchy cooking water just before draining the pasta, a cup or so.
Toss the pasta with the butter, if using, and half of the sauce. Serve pasta in shallow bowls or family-style on a large platter topped with remaining sauce. Pass lots of cheese at the table.