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Penne with oven-dried tomatoes, olives and herbs

This is a simple dish from Southern Italy that loves the freshness of tomatoes. Roasting the tomatoes dries them out concentrating the flavours and caramelising the sugars. The result is a sweet-tart tomato that is delicious. Italian cuisine uses these tomatoes in everything from salsas to sauces to pasta dishes like this one.

This is a simple dish that highlights the seasonality of tomatoes. The dish is light, without the normal rich sauce. The dish is a lovely flavour bomb, the concentrated flavour of tomatoes complimented by tart olives and capers and the hint of spice from the chilli. This is simplicity and healthy eating.

Jack Bishop has been cooking since the age of 12 and over the years became one of America's most creative vegetable chefs. He studied culinary arts in Florence and specializes in Italian cuisine, but also is known for his global flavours and creative dishes. He has published several cookbooks, and also extensively in magazines and has been featured on a PBS show.

For more recipes from this lovely cookbook, click here.


For the oven-dried tomatoes:

1 tablespoons olive oil

A sprinkling of salt

40 cherry tomatoes, cut in half horizontally

For the penne:

10-15 pitted olives, green or black, halved

2 teaspoons capers

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1/2 tablespoon dried

2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon red chilli flakes

Salt, to taste

1/2 lb penne pasta

Parmesan cheese

Cook the penne pasta as per the instructions on the package minus 1 minute for "al dante". Drain and set aside.

Toss the cherry tomatoes with the salt and oil. Layer on a lined baking sheet scattering them away from one another.

Method 1 (The slow roast):

Heat the oven to 200° F.

Bake the tomatoes for 3-4 hours till they are dry and very soft. Remove and set aside.

Method 2 (Quick):

Heat the oven to 375° F.

Bake the tomatoes for 30-45 minutes till they are dry and charred in spots Remove and set aside.

Once the tomatoes are done, scrape them onto a wok. Heat on a medium flame and add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Toss well and allow the mix to heat up and start frying.

Serve hot garnished with cheese and additional cheese on the table.

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