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Cook the Book: Mafaldine with Roasted Tomatoes, Robiola, and Crushed Fennel Seeds

[Photograph: Francine Ruffenach]

Fresh tomato sauces are wonderful in the summer, but as tomato season heads south for the cooler months, it's always a good idea to have a roasted tomato sauce up your sleeve. A slow roast in the oven takes even the most middling tomatoes to the next level by concentrating all of their great sweet tomato-iness. This plate of Mafaldine with Roasted Tomatoes, Robiola, and Crushed Fennel Seeds from Domenica Marchetti's Bolognese from The Glorious Pasta of Italy takes that roasted tomato sauce to an even more thrilling place by pairing it with some unlikely but incredible partners: fennel seeds and robiola cheese.

Marchetti slow roasts her Romas with thin sliced garlic, salt, olive oil, and a sprinkling of sweetly licorice-scented fennel seeds. It might seem like an improbably pairing at first, but when the tomatoes come out of the oven filled flavored through with fennel, you'll understand that the should be spending way more time together in the kitchen.

The second unlikely bedfellow in this pasta is robiola, a soft-ripened cheese that's creamy, mild, and in this case perfectly melty when tossed with hot pasta and roasted tomatoes. The little cubes of the cheese half melt, coating the pasta and tomatoes with a distinct dairy richness.

We've got to hand it to Marchetti—we never would have matched tomatoes, fennel seeds, and robiola, but man, are we glad that she did.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Glorious Pasta of Italy to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti, copyright © 2011. Published by Chronicle Books.

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