It’s probably the greatest meal when cooking for one. It’s quick, convenient and filling. However, I lack pasta creativity. I don’t know about you but I tend to do the same tomato sauce over and over again, a sweet garlic-y marinara, enhanced by whatever veggies or meat I have at hand.
So when I read the grilled tomato and onion pasta recipe from Nigel Slater’s “Real fast food” book I immediately dog-eared the page and kept the book on my desk. I was so excited about it I knew it was just a matter of time before I tried it.
You might think it’s strange to purposefully burn the ingredients. I too would normally scream in horror if my forgotten tomatoes turned out all blackened. But in a simple recipe like this one it adds a much-needed depth of flavor. Like baba ganoush, the charred skins add smokiness to the dish. And although they’re bitter, the sweetness of the onions and tomatoes cut it right out, leaving just enough acidity to make your taste buds sing.
- 200g Cherry tomatoes (or half a pack)
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 Garlic clove
- 1/2 tsp dry Thyme
- Olive oil
- 1 portion Pasta (I like fettuccine)
- Preheat the oven on the grill (broil) setting and move the rack to the top position. Put a pan of water on the heat and bring it to a boil.
- Halves the tomatoes. Dress with half of the thyme, a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix until coated and spread on a baking sheet, making sure the tomatoes are skin side up.
- Cook under the hot grill for about 4 to 6 minutes or until the skins blacken and smell sweet.
- In the meantime, slice the onion in rings of about 4mm thick. Peel and squash the garlic and mix with the onions, the other half of the thyme, some olive oil and seasoning.
- When the tomatoes are nice and charred, transfer to a bowl. Spread the onions and garlic on the same tray and cook under the grill for about 6-7 minutes or until soft and brown.
- At this stage the water should be boiling, add plenty of salt and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Take the onions out of the oven when ready. Fish out the garlic clove and finely chopped it before transferring everything to the bowl with the tomatoes. Give it a good mix to break it up a bit and check the seasoning.
- Drain the pasta and stir in the sauce. Top generously with grated Parmesan.
- If you find the sauce a bit too thick add a few table spoons of cooking water to thin it out.
- The thickness of the onion slices is important in this recipe. If they’re too thick they will take a long time to cook and if they’re too thin they will burn. Make sure you’re consistent with the chopping too.
- I like to season the tomatoes and the onions straight on the board to prevent unnecessary wash-up.
- Another trick to cut the amount of dirty dishes is to use the same bowl you’ll eat in when transferring the tomatoes and onions from the baking tray.