Tomatoes are still in abundance, and very temptingly displayed at my local organic shop. I buy the meaty Roma variety almost every week, mostly for salads. This week, however, I decided I was going to make a fragrant pasta sauce with them. With their succulent, juicy bite, they are especially good for this purpose!
If you’ve never made your own tomato sauce, this is definitely a recipe that will delight you with intense flavor and aroma. Besides perfectly ripe Roma tomatoes, you will also need a little patience. In the case of this sauce, about two hours’ worth.
PS: Serve with spaghetti, fresh mozzarella and a scattering of Parmesan.
Slow-Cooked Roma Tomato Sauce
- 800g Roma tomatoes
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsps freshly-chopped herbs (I used oregano, thyme and rosemary)
- pinch of dried chili flakes
- 4 fat cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsps Balsamic vinegar
Score the tomatoes on the bottoms with a sharp knife and submerge them under boiling water for three minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and remove their skins. Chop them up making sure you save all of their juices. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and gently sauté the onions and herbs for 5 minutes. Add the chili flakes and cook for another minute before adding in the rest of the ingredients. Stir well, bring to a boil and allow to bubble for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and allow the sauce to cook gently for a good two hours, stirring every now and then. Serve with fresh pasta, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil.
It’s a good thing when your children like your cooking. Yes, there have been foods that Kirstie absolutely hated. Like pumpkins, for example. Or avocados. She used to almost gag at the sight of an avocado, and now she eats them happily and without protest. The same goes for pumpkin, too. Though perhaps not completely ‘happily’.
They say that children have to try some foods several times before they can accept them, and I think this is very true and demands a little perseverance on the part of the parents. While Kirstie was growing up I always encouraged her to at least try a little of something she didn’t like. And then I prepared that particular food again. And again. I don’t know if that makes me a good or bad mother, but I will never wrap my head around parents who cook separately for their children. I am, by no means, judging. We all do what we think is right for our families.
For me, one of the greatest compliments is when Kirstie asks me if I can make a particular dish again. It implies that the meal was memorable. Perhaps it will be one of those dishes she’ll make for her own family some day, seasoning it with plenty of fond memories of her childhood at home.
So last Friday, when she asked me when I would be making pasta with blue cheese again, I promised her I’d make it very soon. And that’s what I brought to the table in my beautiful dark blue Le Creuset casserole last night. I must say that I gave the dish a new twist. Improved it, in my opinion. Whereas in the past I used too many ingredients (chicken or bacon, leeks, mushrooms), I decided to keep it a little more sober this time, and to make it vegetarian.
The combination of flavors is a perfect marriage between the sharp, woodsy and slightly herbal Gorgonzola piccante; the crisp, toasted walnuts and a crowning of sweet, caramelized red onions. It’s also a dish that you can make in under twenty minutes, which makes it all the more appealing.
Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola, Walnuts and Caramelized Red Onions
- 75g walnuts
- 2 knobs of butter
- 2 medium red onions, halved and sliced
- 325g tagliatelle
- 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 120ml dry white wine
- 2 tbsps crème fraîche
- 225g Gorgonzola piccante, cubed
- 200g fresh spinach leaves
- fleur de sel
- freshly cracked pepper
Toast your walnuts briefly in a small ungreased frying pan, chop them roughly and set them aside. Wipe the pan and melt one knob of the butter. Sauté your onions, stirring frequently. In the meantime, bring a large pan of water to the boil for your tagliatelle. Add salt to the water before adding in your dried pasta. Cook al dente for approximately 6-7 minutes. It may be a good idea to check the packet instructions on the particular brand you choose. I always give my pasta a minute or two less than indicated. While your pasta cooks, melt the other knob of butter in a large, shallow casserole and add the garlic, making sure it doesn’t brown. Do this over a low heat. After a few minutes, increase the heat and immediately add the wine. Allow this to bubble for about three minutes before whisking in the cream and 3/4 of the cheese. Now add the spinach and a tablespoon of the cooking water from the pasta. Give the spinach a few minutes to wilt and let the sauce thicken. Drain the pasta and stir through the sauce. Season with salt if desired, though the gorgonzola provides enough flavor on its own. Scatter with the rest of the cheese and the walnuts. Top with the caramelized onions and finish with a good grating of fresh pepper.
My weekday cooking is all about ease. Though you may be inclined to think that working from home would make meal preparation a little easier, I dare say the opposite is true — at least in my case. Luckily, there are meals which make life a whole lot easier.
This past summer we visited Duras once again — that lovely village in the southwest of France that stole my heart years ago and which I plan to call ‘home’ one day. Over the years we fell in love with a few of the restaurants both in Duras and in the surrounding area. I have my favorite place to eat a good duck confit, a place that makes a consistently perfect omelet and a place that serves the best menu du jour ever. That place is called La Terrasse (4, Place Jean Bousquet), and that place was the inspiration for this wonderful dish.