My boyfriend and I have been making this simple yet extraordinarily delicious pasta recipe since college, especially during the summer when tomatoes are juicy and ripe. The magic comes from the balsamic vinegar and one single sheet pan: the tangy balsamic caramelizes the tomatoes and onions, while the garlic (which is wrapped in aluminum foil so not to burn) gets super soft and almost sweet, as they all roast together in the oven.
Once everything's all roasty-toasty (about 20 minutes), mush the garlic on the sheet pan, throw the cooked pasta right on top, add a few sprigs of basil, and toss everything together. You can eat it straight off the sheet pan (as I have been known to do when very hungry), or serve it up in a bowl with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. —Erin Alexander
cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (about 10 ounces)
large red onion, sliced
garlic cloves, peeled and with the root end cut off
Combine the cherry tomatoes and red onion on a medium-size sheet pan. Drizzle the tomatoes and onion with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and season them with with a pinch of salt and pepper. (You can add an extra splash of balsamic or olive oil if it’s looking a little dry.) Toss everything on the sheet pan to combine (I like to use my hands).
Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminum foil (they should make a little wrapped ball) and place on the sheet pan.
Roast the tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the balsamic has reduced and caramelized the onions (they might be a little crispy on the edges) and the tomatoes are soft and blistered.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti al dente, according to package instructions. Drain in a colander, making sure to reserve a bit of pasta water.
When the red onions and cherry tomatoes are ready, pull them out of the oven. Carefully unwrap the garlic gloves and, using a fork, mash them on the sheet pan until they are soft and broken up.
Sprinkle the basil, plus another pinch of salt and pepper, over the sheet pan and toss to combine with the mashed garlic, tomatoes, and onion.
Add the pasta to the sheet pan, plus a splash of pasta water and toss to combine. Serve warm, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano and extra basil sprigs, if you like.
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.