On most nights, roasting is my default method for putting a great-tasting platter of vegetables on the table. I love that I can throw everything together on autopilot: Just chop up whatever is in the crisper drawer, spread the chunks onto a rimmed baking sheet, give them a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt, slide the sheet into the oven, and forget about it until the timer goes off. The heat of the oven concentrates the inherent sweetness of the produce, spurs savory browning, and in some cases, helps to develop a bit of crispness. Trust me, it’s the way go.
But the method isn’t just for side dishes: You can also roast a sheet pan full of olive oil-slicked cherry tomatoes with simple seasonings—shallots, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes—to produce a delectable, ready-made sauce for pasta. Over the course of 35 to 40 minutes in the oven, the fruit will blister and soften, plump with sweet-tart juices that commingle with the oil and flavorings to create a bright and savory sauce. Stir the tomatoes into just-cooked pasta, add fresh chopped basil and grated Parmesan, and dinner is served.
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How to Make Sheet-Pan Cherry Tomato Sauce
Note that grape tomatoes can be substituted for cherry tomatoes, but because they tend to be sweeter, you may want to reduce or even omit the sugar.
- Toss 3 pints of whole cherry tomatoes with ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1½ teaspoons sugar (omit this if your tomatoes are supersweet), and 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin.
- Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and top them with a sliced shallot coated in 1 teaspoon olive oil (if the slices are buried beneath the tomatoes, they won’t brown).
- Roast the tomatoes at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until the tomato skins start to shrivel up. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before tossing with pasta.
If you’d like to try variations on this recipe, consider our puttanesca-like Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Pine Nuts or our summery Farfalle with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Goat Cheese.