30 Minute Tomato Cream Pasta with Grilled Cheese Crumbs.
Yep, you sure did hear me right.
GRILLED CHEESE CRUMBS.
I hereby declare these a thing.
This recipe idea came about because for some crazy reason, I love the idea of creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sticks on Halloween. Particularly, this tomato soup with these grilled cheese sticks, but that’s neither here nor there.
I knew that I couldn’t put ACTUAL tomato soup in my pasta (um, what) but I wanted to mimick the feel!
My mom never made tomato soup when we were growing up, so it was something I learned to love as a comfort food only a few years ago. I have some major requirements though.
It must be creamy. Like have the addition of actual cream.
It must be ever-so-slightly hinted of basil.
It must also be a little sweet!
Basically it must taste as good or supremely better than Nordstrom café’s tomato soup.
ALSO. I need to tell you something. Mother Lovett. Guess what she used to do?
Well wait. First – you know how I always say that Italian cuisine is my least favorite? I’m sure it’s because I don’t have any Italian genes and never ate GOOD authentic Italian food as I was growing up. So. Guess what Mother Lovett used to do? You’re going to die.
She would use campbell’s tomato soup… as tomato sauce.
Yeah. Like as her spaghetti sauce.
No, I never had the (unfortunate) pleasure of trying this, for it was long banned in her house before I was born. This was waaaaay before my time, like back when my mom was a tween.
But I’m sure it’s the inherent reason for my tomato abhorrence.
Annnnd now you know why I’ve never cared for tomato sauce.
And why I do such blasphemous things to tomato-y pasta like cover them in crumbs with bread and cheese.
But let’s be real, “abhorrence” is quite strong. I no longer ABHOR tomato sauce.
When tomato sauce is swirled with cream, or in this case, OMG mascarpone cheese!, I could easily consume it weekly. Maybe daily. The mascarpone cheese is so rich and cuts the acidity. It makes it so much creamier than actual cream does! It’s comfort food. Topped with more comfort food.
Just the way I like it.
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 20 ounces tomato puree
- 6 ounces mascarpone cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound whole wheat fusilli pasta, cooked
- for serving: shaved parmesan and fresh basil leaves
- 2 pieces of bread, torn into tiny pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 ounces finely grated mozzarella cheese
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the garlic, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the tomato puree and stir. Cook until the sauce is warm and the garlic infuses it, about 10 minutes. Once warm, stir in the mascarpone cheese. It will turn the sauce pink and become creamy and delicious!
- Taste the sauce and season if desired. You can add salt, pepper or even a touch of brown sugar if it’s still acidic.
- Stir in the cooked pasta right before serving. Top with the grilled cheese crumbs, shaved parmesan and fresh basil.
- Heat a saucepan or skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Once sizzling, add in the pieces of bread and stir. Cook and toss, stirring often, until the crumbs toast and become golden. You want them crunchy!
- Turn off the heat and let the pan sit for 1 minute. Add the grated cheese and toss for a minute or two, until it’s dispersed through the crumbs. It will melt and some pieces will get crunchy. Delicious!
Plus, it’s pink!