Roasted Garlic Butter Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes: This is the ultimate summer comfort food. Deeply caramelized roasted garlic and tomatoes combine to make a butter pasta sauce that will leave you speechless.
What does it take for you to indulge in a bowl of pasta?
Is it the sauce? Or the “fillings?” Or maybe it’s the method? What about all 3 factors combined in one dish?
Like my one-pot creamy sausage pasta, where the pasta is cooked in a sausage tomato sauce and finished with Parmesan and a little bit of cream. That meal hits on all 3 of those factors and makes for a meal we’ve – and lots of others who’ve made it – put into the regular weeknight dinner rotation.
But for as much as we LOVE that meal, we’re also all about testing out new ideas and making use of seasonal ingredients. The avocado pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes we made a few summers ago is a good example of this.
With a no-cook avocado sauce that I made in the food processor and piles of deeply roasted tomatoes, that meal remains one of our all-time summer favorites.
Now, the summer tomato purist may think that roasting tomatoes at the height of their ripeness is complete blasphemy. And believe me, this was my exact thought up until maybe 10 years ago.
But the moment I went against all my prior judgement and cranked up the oven to make some roasted tomato basil soup in the middle of August was the day I couldn’t turn back.
So here we are now with this roasted garlic butter pasta with roasted tomatoes. It’s a mouthful of a recipe title but man oh man! This was one hell of a meal!
Tips for Roasting in a Hot Oven in Hot Weather
Kyle takes major issue with my habit of using the oven in the middle of summer for roasting and baking. And I totally get it. It’s expensive to run the oven and heat up the kitchen for small amounts of food.
But the way I see it is if you’re going to run the oven in the summer, you might as well make the most out of it. This especially applies if you’re heating up an air conditioned kitchen in order to make dinner.
So I’ve resorted to using the oven in the early mornings during the summer when it’s a little cooler.
Also the oven works double-duty for this dish to roast a head of garlic as well as a whole slew of perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes at the same time.
And one of the best aspects of this meal is that you can roast the garlic and tomatoes a few days in advance of when you actually need them.
You can roast the garlic up to a week in advance and the tomatoes, up to 2 days. So if you know there might be a “cooler” day (relatively speaking of course) in your weather forecast, that might be the day you want to run the oven for the garlic and tomatoes.
How to Make Roasted Garlic Butter Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
Once the roasted garlic and tomatoes are finished in the oven, this is an incredibly simple meal to pull together. (Full details for this recipe are listed below in the recipe card.)
First, cook your pasta according to the package directions. For this recipe, I used bucatini.
This pasta is like spaghetti but it’s a long tubular pasta and I love it because it has a really nice “toothsome” bite to it. It’s a little bit thicker than spaghetti but it cooks a little faster which is always a bonus in my book.
When the pasta is finished cooking, don’t drain it off. But DO pull out some of the pasta water to use for the sauce. The starch in the pasta water will help to thicken the roasted garlic butter sauce.
Next, you’re going to make some roasted garlic butter. To do this, simply squeeze the cooled roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and into a bowl of softened unsalted butter. And by softened, I mean SOFT butter. The butter should be around 70° F.
With the butter nice and soft, you’ll mix the roasted garlic right in. Mash it up a little as you do this to help break the garlic down and incorporate into the butter.
Then, melt the roasted garlic butter with some olive oil in a nonstick pan, add some of the pasta water, salt, and then the pasta. Next, scoop that pasta right out of the pot and into the pan! Don’t worry about the water that comes with the pasta – this will help create the sauce for the pasta.
Lastly, you’ll stir in the roasted tomatoes, basil, a whole lot of grated Parmesan cheese. After all, what’s a great pasta recipe without Parmesan cheese??
The Key to a Silky Butter Sauce that Won’t Separate in Your Pasta Bowl
The juices from the roasted tomatoes combine with the garlic butter sauce to make this incredibly silky sauce that coats the pasta in a way I haven’t seen many restaurants be able to accomplish.
As is the way with some butter sauces, this sauce won’t separate because of the pasta water you’ll add. The starch in the water will help keep the sauce together so there’s no gloppy and greasy butter left at the bottom of your pasta bowl. That’s the worst, isn’t it??
So that’s it, my friends! This is an easy meal that can be almost fully prepped at least 2 days in advance. And if you don’t believe me when I say how incredibly delicious this roasted garlic butter pasta is, go ahead and make it for yourselves.
When I tell you that this is meal is in the top 5 of all the dinners I’ve eaten in the past year, I’m not exaggerating. It’s PHENOMENAL.
What I love about this meal:
- Deeply caramelized roasted garlic and tomato flavors
- Plenty of salty Parmesan cheese
- A silky roasted garlic butter sauce
- Pasta is the best comfort food
- Make-ahead friendly ingredients that make for a quick weeknight meal.
For the roasted garlic:
- 1 large head of fresh garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
For the roasted tomatoes:
- 1 ½ lbs cherry tomatoes, halved
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta, sauce, and finishing:
- 12 oz dry pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ¼ cups reserved pasta water
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Side dish serving suggestions:
- To make the roasted garlic: Preheat oven to 425° F (see note below). Remove most of the papery skins from the outside of the garlic head but leave the head intact. Slice ¼-inch off the top of the head of garlic, leaving the tops of the garlic cloves open and exposed. Place the garlic head on a 10-inch wide piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the garlic head with about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil, ensuring the oil seeps down between the cloves. This doesn't have to be exact but it should be enough to lightly coat the garlic and leave a little on the bottom to help prevent burning.
- Roast for 40 minutes. Carefully peek into the foil packet and if the garlic isn't a deep golden brown, return it to the oven and roasted for another 5 to 10 minutes. The garlic will be finished when the tops of the exposed cloves are deeply browned. Allow the garlic to cool to room temperature before using it.
- To make the roasted tomatoes: Preheat oven to 425° F (see note below). Toss the tomatoes with a few glugs of olive oil and a good sprinkle of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Roast for 20 minutes, rotate the pan 180°, and roast for another 5 to 7 minutes. When finished, the tomatoes should be very soft (almost jam-like but still just about holding their shape) and lightly brown on top/bottom/both.
- To make the roasted garlic butter sauce: Pull the garlic cloves apart and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins. In a small bowl, mix the softened unsalted butter and roasted garlic together with a fork until the cloves have mostly broken down and are incorporated with the butter.
- During the last 2 minutes of the pasta cooking time, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the roasted garlic butter and swirl the butter around until it has melted. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Using tongs, transfer the pasta from the pot directly into the pan with the sauce mixture. It's ok if you get some extra water in the pan from the pasta - this will help to create the sauce.
- To assemble: Mix the pasta into the sauce until it is well-coated. Stir in the roasted tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and chopped basil. If you think the pasta needs more sauce, stir in the remaining ¼ cup of pasta water. Allow the pasta, sauce, and components to warm through over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes before serving with extra Parmesan on the side for sprinkling. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The garlic and tomatoes can be roasted at the same time.
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