Sometimes you find life acting upon you more than you acting upon it. Work has been like that for me lately, with me coming home barely in time for a late dinner or in time (just) for a soothing cup of tea before bed time. There are only 4 more weeks until I start maternity leave so work won't continue like this for much longer, though a different kind of madness will hit after that.
Even without much time, you still have to eat, and I'd always rather my meal was home-made and leaving me wanting more even if given the time constraints it seems the stuff that dreams are made on. Roasting does amazing things to cherry tomatoes; if left at that, they'll make a bruschetta topping that any devotee of the red-white-and-green tricolor flag would be proud of. Using the roast tomatoes as a base to a pasta sauce transfers that magic to the main course.
In this case, I roasted the tomatoes along with thyme and sliced fennel, which is also intensified and sweetened by the roasting. When all the roasting pieces and juices are tossed together at the end it creates an improbably rich and meaty sauce (despite the absence of animal products) which defines the word umami with each mouthful. Not quite the same as a half day of work and a long soak in a bubble bath, but as easy dinners go, it comes close.
Pasta with Roast Cherry Tomatoes and Fennel
Serves 2 generously or 4 as an appetizer
- 1 fennel
- 3 cloves garlic
- 500g / 1lb of cherry tomatoes
- handful fresh thyme (or around tsp of good dried thyme)
- olive oil
- 250g (1/2 package) of dried pasta
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 Tbs cream
- parmesean cheese for topping
- Slice the fennel into thin-ish slices (about 1 inch long by 1/4 inch thick) and chop the garlic.
- Toss the fennel together in a roasting pan with the sliced garlic, the cherry tomatoes and the thyme. Drizzle generously with olive oil (probably about 3 tablespoons worth) and toss together well.
- Roast at 170C / 375F for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to deflate a bit and there are juices thickening in the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan once during roasting to distribute the flavors.
- Meanwhile, boil some water to prepare the pasta.
- When the pasta is done, toss together with all the items in the roasting pan (minus any twigs left over from the thyme). Stir in a bit of cream so that everything is gently touched with cream but not swimming in it.
- Serve with parmesean grated on to - or not.