Cooking has always been very therapeutic for me. In fact, all the elements involved in the cooking process are things that I enjoy, other than cleaning up. I really don't love to do the dishes. However, I got a lot better with it in my senior year at college. I would listen to podcasts while cleaning dishes which sadly became how I procrastinated from doing homework. I usually didn't have to do the dishes because my best friend, Morgan hated cooking but loved cleaning. You have no idea how perfect a fit like that is. I mean I feel like Cinderella and her shoe had a worse fit.
Because of her, I really got into making pasta for 3 (we eat for 1.5 each). It was also when I really started innovating in the kind of pastas I was making. I used different types of pastas, different sauces, and spices. It wasn't long that I moved from Ragu sauce to a fresher healthier sauce. Enter cherry tomatoes. I am in love with these tomatoes. They have a thick sweet skin, but with a watery inside. Honestly, I love them because of how durable they are. Unlike larger, riper tomatoes; “cherries” survive in the fridge for longer and even as they get old they taste just fine if you roast them.
This recipe began as an experiment to make marinara in an oven where I reduce the tomatoes under high heat and then deglaze with red wine. But I’m a stickler for the classics so I decided to make a different recipe. I added some rosemary and thyme; two of the most fragrant spices in the Italian library of flavors. The mixture of both is what dominates the flavors of this dish along with the sweet flavors of garlic and onion. A really cool thing I do here is to slice a large bulb of garlic in half and simply bake it (with all its papery shell). The result is a sweet garlic flavor that does nothing towards the overall taste of the dish but adds a rustic texture which is something that you can't achieve with a canned sauce. Lastly, I choose wholewheat because of the continued mindful eating trend that I’m on, while I liked the grooves in the fusilli as it effectively wraps itself around our largely thick and jammy sauce.
I hope you like this recipe and my #tomato campaign. As usual, please like, share, and comment!
200g wholewheat fusilli (any pasta would do)
1 whole bulb of garlic
300g of cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme)
A pinch of salt and ground black pepper
A handful basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Slice the top off the bulb of garlic so that almost all the cloves are exposed. Place the garlic in a large roasting tray.
Prepare the cherry tomatoes by slicing them in half. Place the tomatoes in the roasting tray, cut side up. Prepare the onion by peeling and slicing into rough quarters, place alongside the tomatoes. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle the tomatoes, garlic and onion with a good pinch of salt and black pepper.
Give the tray a good shake to ensure everything is evenly coated. Roast in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced by half their size and the garlic has softened.
While the garlic, tomatoes and onion are roasting, bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
When the tomatoes, garlic and onion are cooked, remove from the oven and, using a fork, carefully push out the garlic cloves from their skins and mash all the ingredients together until you have a thick mushy sauce. Pour a ladle of the pasta cooking water onto the sauce.
Drain the pasta and then tumble it into the roasting tray. Add the basil. Toss everything together until the pasta is evenly coated.