As part of my 2016 New Year’s Resolution, I’ve decided to cook a special meal once a week and share my culinary adventures with you.
This recipe is from “Everyday Super Food” by Jamie Oliver. Cook time is 1 hour and serves 4 portions.
- olive oil
- ½ a bunch of fresh thyme (15g)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½–1 fresh red chilli
- 1 lemon
- 500g ripe mixed-colour cherry tomatoes, on the vine
- 250g best-quality ricotta cheese
- 320g dried spelt spaghetti
- 4 handfuls of rocket
- optional: balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Pour 3 tablespoons of oil into a small bowl. Run the bunch of thyme under a hot tap for 3 seconds to reawaken it, then shake dry and strip the leaves into the oil.
Here’s a simple video on how to strip the thyme leaves from its sprigs:
Peel the garlic, then finely slice it with the chilli and add to the bowl. Finely grate in the lemon zest, add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and mix together.
When cooking, you never know if there’s a special technique in the preparation of certain things. In a surprisingly elegant video, here’s how to finely slice a chilli pepper:
And here’s a video about the various ways on how to zest a lemon using different types of tools. Be careful to zest just the most outward layer of the fruit – the white underneath tends to be quite bitter:
Below: the olive oil, finely sliced chilli pepper, (not so) finely sliced garlic, fluffy lemon zest, and thyme leaves all put together with a pinch of salt and seasoned with a bit of black pepper.
Lay the cherry tomatoes in a 30cm x 40cm baking tray. Rub the flavoured oil all over the ricotta and place in the centre of the tray, then gently rub the remaining oil over the tomatoes.
Add a splash of water to the tray, place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, then remove. With 10 minutes to go, cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
That smells absolutely incredible.
Lift the ricotta out of the tray, then shake the tomatoes off the vines, discarding the stalks. Add half a mug of pasta water to the tray and gently shake to loosen all the sticky goodness from the base.
I used a fork to separate the tomatoes from the stalks. Also, only at this advanced stage did I realise that I used 275g of tomatoes instead of the 500g that Jamie suggested in his recipe. The shops had closed by then, too. Right.
Drain the spaghetti and toss straight into the tray with a squeeze of lemon juice, season to perfection, then break that beautiful ricotta over the top.
Sprinkle over the rocket, toss together well, then serve. My missus likes this with a little drizzle of balsamic, too.
- Calories: 429kcal
- Fat: 18.9g
- Saturated Fat: 5.8g
- Protein: 16.3g
- Carbs: 61.7g
- Sugar: 9.2g
- Fibre: 7g
Closing thoughts about the recipe
When preparing the spelt spaghetti, I made sure to drain it just when it started to absorb water.
It was slightly al dente (i.e. firm when bitten) but when I mixed it up with the rest of the dish the spaghetti absorbed all that goodness and flavour instead. Fantastic.
The ricotta gave the spaghetti a creamy texture and the tomatoes from the vine offered an explosive burst of flavour. It was a pleasure experiencing how two drastically different flavours combined so surprisingly well.
What I could have done differently was put in slightly less chilli pepper (I used 3/4 of a pepper) because the spice served as a bit of a distraction from the central flavours of the dish.
Also, next time I’d be more sparing with the garlic – the cloves I used were unusually big and the taste reflected this to an extent. The right amount of tomatoes would’ve made a big difference, too.
This was a pretty easy meal to cook and not too expensive to make as well. I will definitely give this another go in the future.
In a nutshell:
- More vine tomatoes
- Less chilli (I used 3/4 of a pepper)
- Watch out for the garlic…
Any ideas on what I could have done better in this recipe? Or any interesting twists to the recipe that you could share?
Let me know in the comments below!
This recipe was from “Everyday Super Food” by Jamie Oliver.
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