The 7-day cook-off: Day 4

Okay, so I messed up. The chocolate cake from the day before, the one that turned out really well with just seven ingredients? That was actually the eight-item recipe. Yikes!

And now, I made this delightful little pasta dish with just six ingredients instead of seven. I’m surprised I managed to do it this well with an item short!

You see, I have a dilemma now. I can go back and do the eight-ingredient recipe tomorrow or push it to the end of the series and make something really grand since I will have a larger number to play with.

After a lot of thinking and scrolling through recipes, I decided that I am going to keep it for the finish. So now the 25thof September is a five-item day (instead of actually being the sixth one). I can live with that. I can also build towards a big close for the eight-ingredient recipe on Sept 30th.

Penne with roasted vegetable sauce

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Coming to the recipe at hand – this one is so uncomplicated you can make it with one eye closed, and probably one arm tied behind your back (that would be an interesting challenge, which gives me a video idea!).

I love roasted vegetables. There are few things as enjoyable in life as the aroma of baked bell peppers, garlic and tomatoes filling up the kitchen. There are ways to take it even further – a smear of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic, a dusting of herbs. We are keeping it simple for the sake of the challenge and the ease with which we can make the recipe.

Beware, once you learn this procedure this will be the only pasta dish you will want to make!

The dish is sweet and tangy from the peppers and tomatoes, acidic from the balsamic and the garlic takes it to another dimension. I could eat it every weekend for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Serves 2

Cooking time: 75 mins

Ingredients:

  1. Pasta – 1 cup of penne or fusilli (if you are using spaghetti, go for half a handful)
  2. Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  3. Balsamic vinegar – 2 tablespoons
  4. Bell peppers – 2 large ones whole
  5. Tomatoes – 2 large ones, slit from the middle
  6. Garlic – 2 whole bunches, the tops cut off

Method:

In a baking tray, drop the peppers, cut tomatoes and garlic. Add the olive oil and balsamic and coat every inch of the vegetables. A spoonful of salt is a must.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and roast the vegetables on the middle rack for an hour. Keep checking after every 15 minutes for any anomalies – not that I encountered any.

 

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The vegetables after their baking session.

 

In an hour, the peppers would have charred and punctured slightly, the tomatoes would have shrivelled and the garlic roasted. Remove the stems from the peppers with a knife and add to a blender while hot. Blitz to form a smooth paste.

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The garlic would have softened in such a manner that you can squeeze the cloves out. Add them and the tomatoes to the blender along with all the liquid from the baking tray. Scrap the bits of balsamic that are stuck to the dish – that is the best part!

Blitz to form a smooth sauce and check for seasoning. I like to add half a teaspoon of sugar if my tomatoes are unripe, just to reduce that tartness.

Bring a litre of water to a boil, add two tablespoons of salt and cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet (penne and fusilli will take 10-12 mins while spaghetti takes 8-9 mins). Drain and add a dash of olive oil to stop the pasta from sticking.

Pour as much sauce as you like over the pasta. There is really no limit. I coat mine in one initial helping of the sauce, see how much more is required and then pour some more as necessary.

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The best part of this recipe is that you will always end up having some extra sauce. Let it cool before storing it in the fridge. You can keep it for up to four days in a glass jar. I use my leftover sauce to bake some chicken breasts. Recipe for that a little later.

Happy cooking!

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