The following are recipes relating to the Around the Table column in NZ Catholic Issue 435 (March 9-22, 2014).
Roasted tomato pasta sauce
There are no exact quantities for this sauce. All you need is a large roasting dish and:
Tomatoes – any size, any type, any colour
A handful of fresh herbs – any or all of bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano, sage
One or two whole heads of garlic
One or two red onions
Salt and ground pepper
Spaghetti – cooked as per instructions on packet
Preset the oven to 180-200C and wash all the vegetables.
Chop or tear the herbs roughly. Strip the thyme or oregano leaves off their woody stalks.
Peel and trim and quarter the onions then chop into large chunks.
Cut the whole heads garlic in half around the middle so that you can see all the segmented bulbs inside. Drizzle with olive oil.
You want large chunks of tomatoes, too, so halve or quarter them, depending on their size. Leave the small ones whole and, for added impact, leave vine tomatoes on the stem.
Nestle everything into a roasting dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and strew with the herbs.
Add salt and pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Toss to make sure everything is coated.
Roast uncovered in the oven for about an hour. Because there is so much moisture in the vegetables, this won’t go brown but everything will soften and collapse beautifully.
Let it cool for a bit, then carefully remove any vine tomatoes to a safe place.
Slip the skins off the whole tomatoes, squash some and leave others whole. Break up the onion chunks a bit and squeeze all the creamy, sweet roasted garlic out of its case. Discard the skins and the bay leaves and transfer everything else, including all the juices, to a saucepan.
At this point the ingredients can be mashed or pureed for a smooth sauce, or left whole for a chunkier version, whichever you prefer, and gently reduced until it is thick, but not dry.
To serve, pile the cooked spaghetti into a large bowl or platter, pour the reduced sauce over the pasta, gently place the vine tomatoes on the top, scatter with some freshly torn basil leaves and a grinding of black pepper.
Only ever use red, orange or yellow peppers for this dish. Redirect any green peppers into a salad, as the green ones never look or taste nice when they are cooked.
garlic – 2 or 3 cloves
salt and ground pepper
Wash the peppers. Cut them in half and remove the core, seeds and any white pith. Slice them into long strips about half a centimetre wide.
Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Roughly chop the sage leaves and pull the thyme leaves off their woody stalks. Set the mint and basil leaves aside for later.
Heat two tablespoons of oil into a deep-sided frying pan and then add all the chopped peppers. Don’t worry if you can’t get them all in at first, you will be able to add more once they start to cook and shrink a bit.
Stir or toss the peppers until they are all coated with the oil, then add the garlic, sage and thyme.
Once all the peppers are in the pan, cover it and turn the heat down to low. Cook gently for about 30 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally.
About 5 minutes before the end of the cooking, stir in a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar and the chopped mint and basil leaves. Check the seasoning and add salt and ground pepper at this stage.
Serve hot, warm or cold. This will last for several days in the fridge and tastes better the longer you leave it.