CHEF TONY SAYS: The joy of this recipe is that all the vegetables and herbs can be grown in the garden or on your windowsill.
I pick the basil direct from the plant in my kitchen and I’ve got all sorts of peppers growing in the conservatory – sweet, mild and hot chilli peppers, as well as tomatoes. I’m tackling home-grown garlic and onions next year (my garlic died in my recent house move and I missed the season for planting onions) but if you manage to grow these yourself, you’ll have some very versatile veg.
Cherry Tomato and Fire-Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Pasta
You can roast the peppers in the oven until they are very soft, making the skin extremely easy to peel off. But if you have a gas hob it gives a better flavour and is quicker. I use an old cooling rack to help steady the peppers over the flame.
500g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 clove of garlic
1/2 red onions, finely diced
3 small red peppers or 2 large (I like the smaller ones as they’re a bit sweeter)
Handful of fresh basil
500g pasta – penne/ fusilli/ rigatoni, whatever takes your fancy
Start by roasting the peppers. Either roast in the oven or place directly over the flame on a gas hob. Roast until black on all sides and top to bottom (if roasting in the oven, cook until soft). Once they are blackened, place in a sealed container or in a bowl under cling film. Set to one side to cool.
Place a large pan of salted water on the stove and bring to the boil. While waiting for water to boil cut the cherry tomatoes in half and peel and crush the garlic.
Heat up a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the diced red onion once the oil is hot. Fry the onion for about 2/3 mins to soften then add the crushed garlic and stir in (if, like me, you like chillies this is the time to add some chopped chillies to give it a kick). Add the cherry tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes have turned into a sauce and the liquid has reduced. Season to taste.
Remove the peppers from the container and gently peel off the skin. Don’t worry if a little black bit stays on the flesh, it’ll add a smoky flavour to the dish, just try not to leave to much. Remove the seeds and chop up the peppers, then add to the sauce.
Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook according to whether it’s dry or fresh pasta. I tend to find that dry pasta takes about 1-2 minutes less than it says on packet so try at about 8 mins to see if it is cooked to your liking.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain but reserve a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta and reserved water to your sauce, add some chopped basil and divide between plates. Finally, top with parmesan.
Next week: White Chocolate and Raspberry Mille-Feuille
PROPER FOOD FOR PROPER APPETITES
Each week, discover recipes to nourish the soul, all compiled and concocted by Chef Tony, a gastronome with 15 years’ of experience cooking across the North West. Chef Tony has worked in some of the region’s best kitchens, including the award-winning Nutters in Rochdale and The Lowry at Salford Quays.