THIS Italian classic pasta margherita — or simply pasta with tomato — never gets outdated. Give it a flavour boost with plump cherry tomatoes garlic-roasted until their skins burst with juiciness. Prime it up with pickled olives to add briny accents to this pasta dish. And if you want a sidekick, these juicy tomato berries make a perfect antipasti with fresh mozzarella balls, basil and lashings of extra virgin olive oil.
By Evonne Lyn Lee
Total Time: 4 hours
Serves: 5 persons
A: Garlic-roasted Tomatoes
1.5kg heirloom cherry tomatoes, washed, rinsed, stems removed
10 cloves garlic, skin on
Handful of fresh basil
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
B: To Cook Pasta
2 litres water
½ teaspoon salt
C: To Serve with Pasta
Oven-roasted cherry tomatoes
100g Parmesan cheese block
200g pickled olives
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh basil leaves, hand torn
Extra virgin olive oil as desired
Balsamic vinegar, optional
- Preheat oven to 150°C.
2. Spread tomatoes on a large baking tray lined with 3 pieces of parchment paper or silicon baking sheets. Toss in garlic and fresh herb. Sprinkle salt all over tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Roast tomatoes for 3-3¼ hours or until they shrivel. Check on tomatoes at hourly intervals adding some water if they get too dry and begin to char. When tomatoes are roasted, allow to cool down. Set aside a portion for the pasta. Bottle remaining tomatoes in a jar and store in the fridge. Consume it within a week.
4. Bring 2 litres of water in a large saucepan to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Add in pasta. Cook according to directions on packet. Drain pasta, reserving 125ml of water.
5. Return pasta to saucepan. Add in tomatoes and several tablespoons of pasta water if required. Toss well.
6. Divide pasta between 5 serving bowls. Add in olives.
7. Toss in basil leaves and shave parmesan over pasta.
8. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if desired. Grind some pepper on top of pasta. Serve immediately.
BUYING TIPS: Buy short pasta like bows, penne, fusilli or macaroni as it is easy to scoop it up with tomatoes. Opt for vine-ripened spherical cherry tomatoes which are juicier and sweeter than the normal cultivar.
TECHNIQUES: Do not add oil to water while boiling pasta – the oil creates a film around the pasta and prevents sauce from clinging to it.
Always hand-tear large basil leaves. Avoid cutting them with a knife as it bruises the leaves causing them to oxidise.
Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee