As tradition would have it every summer there would pasta and fresh Jersey tomatoes; better known as “Summer Macaroni!” It is a simple dish that was a standard for every family picnic. My mother-in-law would make a large baking dish of Summer Macaroni that would be wrapped in wool. She had four pieces each about the size of a tea towel. There were no insulated bags back then so the food was kept warm using these wool mini blankets. She was known for her cooking and the family picnic was her showcase. Everyone would make a stop at our table for a taste of Aunt Rae’s macaroni, her oven fried chicken as well as a slice of foccia! Every year I make Summer Macaroni at least once. This year was special because I used tomatoes and herbs from my garden. With each bite I drift back to those picnics, the food, the family and the good times spent together!
1 lb short pasta like penne cooked al’dente
2 to 4 lbs ripe tomatoes scalded with the skin removed and sliced (depending on the size, you need to be the judge; I like more tomato then less)
2 cups breadcrumb
1/2 cup chopped basil ( I like to add oregano about a 1/4 cup although the original recipe does not have it)
5 large cloves of garlic minced (I sauté the garlic in EVOO because I have difficulty with the raw garlic! Ugh getting old is a B’tch)
3/4 cup grated cheese (pecorino)
Mix breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, cheese and moisten with EVOO
Lightly oil a large baking pan. Start with a layer of pasta, top with a layer of tomatoes and cover with 1/3 of breadcrumb mix. Continue with another layer and you should end up with a layer of tomatoes and breadcrumb on top. Drizzle with EVOO and place in a 350 oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Breadcrumb should be golden brown. Remove and let set for at least 15 minutes. You can serve the pasta hot or warm it is delicious either way!