Pasta made from the Pantry and Garden.
Yesterday Mr L and I visited my parents who are housesitting my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Northern New South Wales. Beautiful day spent with family and reconnecting with cousins and exploring the wonderful gardens that Rex and Janice have created. I am envious of the skill it takes to have an edible garden, and I wish I had taken some photos – so charming to have herbs with flowers, to walk around a corner and see plums hanging from the tree, to step outside and pick your own cucumbers and tomatoes. And these little tomatoes – sweet and red and delicious and falling from their vines into the garden. As soon as I saw them in their abundant glory, I knew the planned take away dinner after a day of driving was off the agenda, and a simple pasta would be our evening meal.
Look at these lovely little tomatoes! Dad and I picked them before lunch, and thankfully before the storms and rain arrived which may have ruined them. Mr L and I arrived home late and just before the storms and again I was tempted to just put my feet up and dial something in, but when I unpacked these lovelies, I couldn’t resist cooking them immediately!
After a quick wash and taking off the stems, I started to cut them in half. As they were so small, I decided to leave the tiny ones whole, and then just squished them a little to split the skin. Several cloves of garlic sliced, some basil and oregano from my garden, a good glug of olive oil, some salt and pepper and some lemon zest and they were ready for the oven. Usually I would roast these in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, but as they were very small (and we were very hungry!) they were only in for 20 minutes.
Now, I would have been happy with a handful of olives and perhaps some capers thrown in here, because simple is always best. But TM is a carnivore, and looks suspiciously at any meal that does not contain meat, so while these were roasting, I sliced some streaky bacon and chopped a zucchini and fried them in some oil.
This is where you can improvise. I had zucchini, but last week we had a similar sauce with mushrooms and some spinach added at the last minute. All about using what you have and like. Once the bacon is crisp and the zucchini has softened, pour in a little white wine or stock to loosen those lovely bits that have stuck to the bottom, then set aside until your tomatoes are ready.
Look at how beautiful these are! They have collapsed and released all their juicy goodness into the pan. As I said before, this, right here, is perfect as a light summer sauce for pasta, or on grilled chicken. Imagine putting some golden brown chicken on top of this, then topping with some coarsely grated parmesan, and popping back into the oven until it was heated through and meltingly delicious. Mmmm – Chicken Parma – I think we have a future post there!
Add the roasted tomatoes to the bacon mix:
On to the al dente pasta – and there it is – Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta in less time than it would have taken to get take away, and far more delicious and nutritious!
- 750 g cherry tomatoes, halved if large, or just gently squished if small
- 2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 sprigs oregano, leaves only, and 5-6 leaves basil, torn
- 1 tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper
- zest of half a lemon (about 1 tbs)
- 4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, sliced
- 1 zucchini, cut into a large dice
- ¼ - ½ cup white wine, or chicken stock if preferred
- 100g spinach leaves
- 2 tbs cream
- parmesan cheese, grated to serve
- 500g dried pasta of your choice
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- In a tray lined with baking paper, add tomatoes, herbs, garlic,olive oil salt and pepper and roast for 30-35 minutes, until tomatoes have collapsed and released all their lovely juices.
- Meanwhile, heat some water for the pasta and cook according to packet directions
- Heat some oil in a pan and fry bacon strips are sizzling and browning on the edges. Add zucchini and stir for a few minutes until softened. Add the wine or stock and stir to release any crunchy bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the roasted cherry tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Add spinach and when just wilted, stir through the cream.
- Stir through cooked pasta and serve immediately with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
The contents of the sauce can be varied according to what is in your pantry or fridge - mushrooms, artichokes, chicken, or leave out bacon to make vegetarian
If you don’t have an ample (and free!) supply of cherry tomatoes, substitute in a 400g tin of tomatoes; I usually use the Mutti Baby Cherry Tomatoes in that case. The other ingredients are all interchangeable with what you have and like – mushrooms, capsicum, spinach, artichokes, olives. Hope you enjoy playing around with this recipe – let me know how you go!