Cherry tomatoes submerged in a decadent amount of olive oil and slow-cooked until perfectly tender are the star of this nearly fool-proof recipe. While divine in the peak of summer, cherry tomatoes are also much better out of season than their larger counterparts, so if you’re making this in December, don’t fret. This recipe also requires a large quantity of olive oil, most of which you won’t end up using. Think of it as a gift for later. The leftover oil and tomato jus make a wonderful base for salad dressings or a tasty dip for crusty bread. And if you’re afraid of anchovies, don’t be. I promise you will barely be able to taste them other than a hint of savory “what is that?"
To cut back on time, you can make the tomato confit in advance and reheat it when you’re ready to make your pasta. To adapt this recipe for vegans or vegetarians, substitute the anchovy filets for 2 sliced shiitake mushrooms and stir 1 teaspoon of miso paste into the final pasta.
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes (sungold variety recommended)
- 6 cloves of garlic, (2 smashed, 4 sliced)
- 3/4 tsp red chili flakes, divided
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 12 oz (3/4 box) long pasta such as spaghetti, linguine or bucatini
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
- 1/2 tin of anchovies (about 6 filets)
- 1 large bunch of kale, washed, ribs removed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
- salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small baking dish, combine cherry tomatoes, 2 cloves smashed garlic, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and all of your olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and gently toss or stir to combine.
The dish should be tight enough that most of the tomatoes are submerged in oil. If some are poking out that’s okay, but if most are poking out, transfer to a smaller baking dish or add more oil.
Place dish into preheated oven and cook uncovered until tomatoes are perfectly tender and the skins have burst, about 90 minutes. You can do this part in advance and store the cooked tomatoes in the fridge until you are ready to eat. They will keep for about a week, although I doubt you’ll make it that long!
While the confit cooks, read a book, listen to a podcast, or call a friend. This is also a great time to prep your kale, parsley, and the remaining 4 cloves of garlic.
Once the tomatoes are done, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil, and cook the pasta 2 minutes shy of the package recommendation for al dente. Be sure to save 1/2 cup of pasta water.
In the meantime, in a large skillet over medium heat, spoon 2 tablespoons of olive oil from your tomato confit into the pan. Add breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Toast the breadcrumbs in the oil, stirring frequently until golden brown and crunchy enough that you can hear them scrape against the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Once breadcrumbs are browned, set aside on a small plate.
Wipe out the pan, ensuring no crumbs are left (otherwise they will burn!) and spoon in 3 tablespoons of confit oil. Over medium heat, combine anchovy filets, sliced garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Saute the anchovy garlic mixture until the anchovies have fully disintegrated, about 2 minutes. Add in kale and 1-2 tablespoons of tomato confit oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until kale is wilted and beginning to crisp, 5-6 minutes.
Turn the heat to low and add pasta, reserved 1/2 cup pasta water, and 2 tablespoons of confit oil. Stir the mixture vigorously until the water has mostly evaporated and the sauce looks glossy. Turn off the heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove tomatoes from the oil and place them into the pan. Add parsley, and gently stir the pasta mixture to ensure tomatoes do not burst.
To serve, top with a drizzle of confit oil, breadcrumbs, reserved parsley, and flaky salt.