My current obsession is slow roasted tomatoes. For the last few weeks, after spending Saturday morning at the farmers market, my housemate and I take our beautiful ripe tomatoes and give them a scattering of Moroccan spices and a good glug of olive oil. Then turn the oven down low and roast them slowly for a couple of hours, while we nap. Just kidding, I’m usually working! You know they’re ready when the whole house starts to smell amazing. We love eating them with mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden and crusty bread. The concept gave me an idea for a new twist on a classic pasta dish.
Is there an easier weeknight meal than pasta? I don’t think so. It’s comforting, simple, endlessly adaptable, and also one of the most affordable dinners to cook. Definitely my go to on busy days… and sometimes on lazy days too. Penne alla vodka is a classic Italian-American dish that has long intrigued me but I had never tried it before. I thought it would be great with my delicious roasted tomatoes as the base, rather than tomatoes from a can.
I love this dish because it’s a pure celebration of the tomato. You can definitely cook the tomatoes in advance. I love having a tray of them in the fridge, smashed on toast for a snack. Once the tomatoes are roasted, the dish comes together really quickly. I kept it quite light on the cream and instead put a generous dollop of buffalo mozzarella on top to serve.
Definitely a great dish to have in the repertoire for a nice simple dinner. The vodka wasn’t a very strong taste, but added a layer of complexity. I liked the hint of spice from the chilli. Some recipes also included some bacon or sausage, which I think would be great too!
- 500g ripe tomatoes (I used a mix of normal and cherry tomatoes)
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Seasonings: I used salt, pepper, ground turmeric, cumin, coriander and sumac
- 20g butter
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 red chilli, finely diced (use more or less, depending on your tastes)
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1/4 cup cream
- 4-5 large basil leaves, finely sliced, plus extra for serving
- 250g dried penne
- Buffalo mozzarella, to serve