These two recipes to me, scream Winter comfort food. I have made the Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce numerous times recently. The original recipe, from the Monday Morning Cooking Club’s second book ‘The Feast Goes On’, says the sauce is enough to feed six. I find when mixed with cooked pasta (any kind will do!), I can feed three or four for dinner then still have enough leftovers for three lunches. This kind of cooking makes the organised side of me very happy. Good dinner? Check! Lunch for work sorted? Check!
When I made this pasta dish over the June long weekend, I was secretly patting myself on the back. Not only was I going to be able to feed five people at home that weekend, I might even have some leftovers for lunch the next day. Winning, right?!
I forgot however, to take into account that my brother, who was staying that weekend, eats enough food for like two people per meal. So, no leftovers for me. And even if there were some, the likelihood of them being eaten by said brother for breakfast (yes, breakfast) the next morning would have been quite high.
If you do make the sauce and happen to have leftovers, it will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
These two recipes served in the same evening, make for a great Italian style feast. I would cook the tomato sauce before, make and serve the zucchini flowers as they were ready then, cook some pasta, warm up the sauce and serve that as the main for the meal.
A note on the zucchini flowers: The recipe for the batter can easily be doubled if you are cooking more. The zucchini flowers should be served immediately after cooking, as they are not quite the same when re-heated.
Shallow Fried Zucchini Flowers
8 zucchini flowers
1 ball buffalo mozzarella
Handful basil leaves, shredded
¼ cup grana padano (or parmesan) cheese, grated
Ingredients for the Batter:
100g self raising flour
¾ cup ice cold water
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
Wash and dry zucchini flowers, ensuring the insides of the flowers are free from any residual dirt and the stamens have been removed.
Mix the basil and grated cheese together. Tear pieces off the buffalo mozzarella and use to stuff the flowers. Add some of the basil and grated cheese and twist the top of the flowers to seal.
Prepare the batter only just before it is needed.
To prepare the batter, gently whisk all the ingredients together with a fork (the mixture will be lumpy).
Heat a shallow fry pan with some vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Coat the flowers in the batter, then place one at a time (or three or so at a time if using a larger pan), and allow to cook for 1 minute or so on each side. Ensure all of the batter has cooked.
Place on paper towel to drain any excess oil after cooking, and serve immediately.
Recipe Adapted from ‘Maggie’s Harvest’ by Maggie Beer (Penguin Group, 2007), pp. 182-3.
Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce
2kg very ripe tomatoes
x 2 large red onions
x 2 cloves garlic
200g dried black olives
¼ cup capers, drained
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 bunch basil (leaves only), chopped
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Drizzle some olive oil between two large baking trays. Roughly slice the tomatoes (approximately 1 cm slices), and divide between the two trays. Slice the onion and place one onion in each tray. Divide the black olives, capers and anchovies between the two trays. Drizzle with more olive oil crush one garlic clove over each tray, then toss all the ingredients to coat.
Reduce the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and place both baking trays in the oven. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Cook until the tomatoes and onions have softened and reduced, and there is still some liquid left in the trays.
Remove from oven and combine the two trays into one. Stir through the tomato paste, parmesan and basil.
Serve with freshly cooked pasta, topped with a little extra basil and grated parmesan.
Reference: ‘The Monday Morning Cooking Club: The Feast Goes On’ by Lisa Goldberg, Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Natanya Eskin, Lauren Fink, Paula Horwitz & Jacqui Israel (HarperCollins Publishers, 2014), p.74.