Red alert

Tomatoes, red onion and basil, chopped in a bowl.
Tomatoes, red onion and basil, chopped in a bowl.

Fresh pasta with a cold tomato sauce. It may sound dull, but it’s one of the dishes I look forward most to in summer and is one of the simplest things imaginable.

I don’t remember where I got the idea from, but I think it was from a TV food show (possibly Jamie) or a magazine. I had a handwritten note of the simple ingredients and proportions for a while, but even that is long gone.

But it tastes of summer. All the best bits of it.

Technically it’s a bit early, because it’s best made when the tomatoes and basil are fresh out of the garden. I love using a mix of heirloom, cherry and whatever else is ready. But the tomatoes from the market this week were fresh from Adelaide and sweet and tasty. It is warm enough for summer and I’m feeling impatient, so they will do for a start.

The fresh pasta comes from Maria’s Pasta in Nicholson St, North Carlton. It’s brilliant pasta, and they’ll cut it to whatever width you want while you wait. I keep thinking I ought to learn how to make it myself, but this is only a short walk away from home and cheap, so  I can never quite convince myself it’s worth it.

The salt draws juices out of the tomatoes, and the oil/juice mix will eventually cover the tomatoes if you leave them long enough.
The salt draws juices out of the tomatoes, and the oil/juice mix will eventually cover the tomatoes if you leave them long enough. This still has a while to go.

How you do it

Chop up several tomatoes, a handful of basil leaves, some red onion and put it all in a bowl. Sprinkle quite a bit of salt (it will draw juices out of the tomatoes and should initially taste a bit too salty) and some pepper. Pour over a LOT of extra virgin olive oil. It should come about 1/4 of the way up the depth of the tomatoes in the bowl, but you should also feel free to experiment. Mix it and let it sit for at least 20 minutes to half an hour, stirring occasionally.

Each time you stir it you will see more and more tomato juices mixing with the oil (this sauce is absolutely delicious).

Cook up some fresh pasta (though dried still works okay). When cooked, serve it up. Spoon the cold tomato sauce on top of the hot pasta and flake parmesan on top (I use a potato peeler for nice big fine slices).

That’s it.

Even average tomatoes taste great done this way. And the better they are, the better it tastes.

And if there are any juices left over, I usually just eat it with a spoon or Dave soaks it up with fresh bread. It’s almost the best bit.

 

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