Tomato and baked ricotta pasta freddo

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I love using tomatoes as they always provide such a vibrancy to a dish. This pasta freddo uses both heirloom and cherry tomatoes, which when combined with the creamy baked ricotta, the bright green of the peppery rocket, the parsley and the white of the pasta is a visual delight and I can assure you is equally delightful to consume. It is the perfect salad for a warm day and when combined with a glass of chilled pale pink rosato, just brings a smile to your face.

Tomato and baked ricotta pasta freddo

4 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon caster sugar

400g mixed cherry tomatoes

300g dried spiral pasta

50ml extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

1 cup (loosely packed) rocket, coarsely torn

2 tablespoons each coarsely torn flat-leaf parsley and oregano

Baked ricotta

300g wedge of firm ricotta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice and finely grated rind of 1 lemon

2 teaspoon thyme

For baked ricotta, preheat the oven to 180C. Place ricotta on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with oil and lemon juice, scatter with rind and thyme and season generously to taste. Bake until golden brown and firm (30-40 minutes), the cool completely and coarsely crumble.
 
Meanwhile combine heirloom tomatoes, onion, garlic and sugar in a large bowl. Coarsely crush cherry tomatoes with you hands, add to heirloom cherry tomato mixture, season to taste and stand until juicy (10-15 minutes).
 
Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (8-10 minutes), drain, rinse under cold running water and add to tomato mixture. Add olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice, season to taste, toss to combine then add rocket and herbs. Scatter with baked ricotta and serve at room temperature.
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