All of us have a food that we used to eat as kids until it made us sick. For some of us it was the peanut butter and banana sandwich, for others a slice of cheesy pizza or a breaded chicken schnitzel with fried potatoes and ketchup.
For me it was either plain butter pasta or butter pasta with ketchup or tomato sauce. I remember that there was one restaurant that made the most delicious spaghetti Bolognese, the only place where I would have a Bolognese, until I got used to my mom’s slightly different version with smokey pancetta.
But until then at home, on vacation or at my granny’s tomato and butter pasta was the one dish that made me happy every day, even when it made me fat and especially when I wasn’t hungry- it was my signature comfort food!
Turns out that a plate of pasta with a fresh tomato and basil sauce isn’t at all bad for you. In fact it’s quite healthy and preferable in the middle of the day when we run low on energy and we need a scoop of sugar for the brain.
Basil is incredibly aromatic and takes a plain Jane tomato pasta to the seventh heaven. The inspiration is from the traditional Italian caprese salad, or the Italian flag on a plate transformed into a liquid ‘caprese sauce’ with cherry tomatoes, cream instead of mozzarella, basil and roasted garlic for attitude.
The Italians would probably think that I am crazy for adding cream to a tomato pasta but then why do they use mayo and ketchup Marie Rose sauce for shrimp cocktails? Pink tastes real good and on a Monday we need a little bit of naughtiness in our plate.
The original recipe is by food writer Nigel Slater, reproduced in my small and bright kitchen in New York. This dish takes virtually no time to make, just throwing in a bunch of ingredients together like Jamie Oliver does on one of his cooking shows and volia, come comforting and light Caprese Orecchiette, to keep you out of the Monday blues.
Want something similar but my recipe is not exactly it today? These three bloggers have got it right today:
400 grams cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
125 g dried orecchiette
10 large basil leaves
2 tbsp. heavy cream*
A handful of grated Parmesan and pecorino cheese*
Salt and black pepper
*For a vegan alternative omit the cream and the Parmesan
- Pre-heat the oven to 180.
- Boil the orecchiette in a sauce pan with chicken stock until al dente (it takes around 10 minutes after you bring the water to the boil.
- Place the cherry tomatoes and garlic in a baking tray, season with salt and pepper and back for 15 min until they color.
- Drain the orecchiette, add in a sauce pan together with the tomato, garlic, pluck some basil leaves and pour the double cream
- Mix well, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Photography by: Masao Katagami