Here's the answer to summer rainy day blues.
50ml (about 3½ Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp capers, drained, patted dry and chopped
Coarse sea salt & flaky sea salt
1-2 small dried bird’s eye chillies, crushed, optional
Finely grated zest 1 lemon
6-8 medium vine-tomatoes
300g (about 10 oz) spaghetti or linguine
Baby basil leaves, or whatever you have
So there has been a threat of cyclone Oma hitting our New Zealand shores recently. As I write this, I’m looking out on to a very bleak and grey Auckland city with the air-con blasting wondering whether I should indeed have that second coffee. At this stage, the bulk of the storm hasn’t yet hit, fingers crossed it doesn’t, but the drizzle and periodic hail has thrown me off a bit.
It’s wet, it’s humid, I’m hungry and I don’t really know what to do with myself if I’m honest. Eating, though, seems like my best option, it’s always a safe bet. Yes, on second and third thoughts, it’s definitely my best option. This brings me to the point of this blog post: WHAT (?!?!?!) should one make on such a dreary summer’s day?
Dire times, indeed. We need something to lift that sleepy blanket of cloud as well as satisfy any sense of listlessness (nessnessness…)
Chilli. Garlic. Pasta. Enough said.
This is such an easy number to whip up and requires very little effort. You seriously can’t go wrong with a pan of extra virgin oil sizzling away with chilli, fresh garlic, a handful of capers, and fresh lemon zest. Sometimes I soften tomatoes in the mix, too. Toss through a mound of al dente spaghetti and fresh basil leaves, and pile on the parmesan. This is substantial and zingy in all the right ways – eat your heart out summer! There’s always a time for comfort food, and now is just that time. Enjoy 😊
PS Actually, there was no spaghetti in the cupboard, but I had linguine (skinny flattish noodles). They did the trick just as nicely.
Rainy Day Pasta
1 Put olive oil in a medium-sized pan and set pan over a low heat. Cut tomatoes in half and place them cut side down in the pan. Add garlic and chillies, nestling them around the tomatoes in the oil. Cook very gently, for about 15 minutes, until tomatoes soften (don’t let them fry). Push down gently on the tomatoes to encourage the juices to run out. The skin should start pulling away from the flesh. Remove skins as they detach from the tomato flesh. Squish the tomato flesh a little and mix in lemon zest and capers and add a good few pinches of salt.
2 Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a good amount of coarse salt (the water should be as salty as the Mediterranean sea!) and add the pasta. Cook until just about al dente. Have sauce bubbling and add a tablespoon or two of the pasta water. Let it bubble up. Drain pasta, leaving a little water clinging to it and quickly add to the pan of sauce. Stir, add a shower of parmesan and a handful of basil, drizzle with lemon-infused or extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately with more parmesan.
Don’t even think of making this with anything but ripe red tomatoes. Those unripe pink ones are to be avoided at all costs. Lemon oil drizzled on top is delicious, but if you don’t have any, good extra virgin will still add a zap of lively freshness.