My Search for Authentic Flavours: Cherry Tomato Linguine

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes food to taste authentic. I love picking up recipes for food from books, magazine and most usually now Pinterest and tweaking them until they’re perfect. In fact one of Gary’s favourite meals, sausage casserole, is one I’ve been perfecting over the last decade.

On our recent trip to Rome, the very first meal I ate was a tomato and basil spaghetti. Nice and simple with fresh ingredients and pasta cooked al dente and just right. It was delicious, but the thing that struck me the most was how much it tasted like something I already cook.

I picked the recipe for cherry tomato linguine up off Pinterest, and the main reason I wanted to try it was that it’s a one pan recipe so I knew it would be pretty simple to make. I’ve made it a handful of times, and always enjoyed eating it, but was left with an acrid after taste every time – which I had put down to the use of garlic in the recipe.

So whilst eating this gorgeous plate of spaghetti in the little authentic recipe down a Roman side street, I thought hard about the flavours and decided I was going to make my linguine slightly differently next time.

So about a week after returning I picked up my ingredients and away I went. I have to say, this time I nailed it. I cut out the garlic and instead used garlic oil – oil infused with enough garlic to add the right depth of spice and flavour, but without that nasty after taste. I posted a photo of my creation and had a request to blog the recipe, so here goes; my one pan cherry tomato linguine, tweaked to perfection!

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Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta (very generously serves 2)

2 tbsp garlic oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (from oil) snipped smallish with scissors
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (left whole)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
200g dry linguine – or however much you want for 2 servings! (snapped in half to make everything easier)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cup of cold water
85g tomato puree
handful of fresh basil (sliced thinly)
Add olive oil to large high sided pan with a lid (I use a cast iron Le Creuset casserole dish), heat the oil, add the sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Coat well with oil, over a medium heat and then partially cover the pan and allow to cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The tomatoes will spit a little as they burst because they’re full of water, so be careful! Add the paprika, pepper and salt, and cook for 2 mins more, stirring well.
Add the broth, water and pasta and increase the heat to high. Then add the tomato puree and mix well. Once the liquid has come to a rapid boil, stir well and then allow the liquid to reduce for about 14 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, give a stir and then add the basil. Stir one last time and then cover the pan and let it sit, off the heat, for about 5 minutes.
Serve with bread to mop up with!

If you decide to make this, I’d love to know what you think – send me your photos and comments, and tell me if you changed the recipe at all.

Happy eating!

When In Rome

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (hi guys!) you’ll know I recently took a 5 day trip to Rome.

It was the first time I’d been to Italy and I was really excited to see what it was all about. I struggle with travel anxiety and especially in places where I don’t speak the language, but G Man had already been and had been fine so I was pretty chilled about this trip.

I’m used to long haul flights so the 2.5 hr flight seemed like a breeze. I was able to listen to the second and third Childish Gambino albums in full from take off to landing perfectly!

We grabbed a shuttle bus with a very friendly driver to our hotel and checked. The River Palace hotel is situated just off the Piazza del Popolo so was in a great location for walking to all the places we wanted to visit.

We arrived pretty late in the day so headed straight out to grab some dinner. We found a lovely little place and sat inside because it was a tad chilly. I had a great bowl of spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce. I wasn’t majorly hungry and the serving was a perfect size. I hadn’t expected this, but it seems in Italy you eat a starter, 1st course of pasta, 2nd course which is your main course and then desert. I couldn’t work out how everyone wasn’t the size of a house!

Back at the hotel we slept badly and we had decided the room as way too small (you couldn’t actually fit into the shower and my knees butted against the sink when I sat on the loo) so we upgrade and moved our belongings into our new room. The second room was much better, we even got an extra pillow each!

I was very impressed with the breakfast in this hotel, which comes as part of your room. There were pastries, pancakes, fruit, cereal, meats and cheeses, bread and hot food (scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon) and coffee with juices. All of this was buffet style so you could have however much you wanted, and the dining rooms were never too busy.

Over our stay we visited the Pantheon, The Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and of course the Piazza del Popolo, amongst other things we passed by. We also ate in some amazing places, one of which was recommended to me on twitter, Di Qua.

We actually ate here twice and I really liked the modern feel of the restaurant mixed with the traditional cuisine.

The other thing I hadn’t expected from the food was that the only things you can eat are pasta and pizza – like every restaurant had the same menu. So it then boiled down to quality, price and ambience. I think we chose pretty wisely!

We also wanted to hunt out a good gelato place, and after searching on Pinterest I saw Giolitti recommended a couple of times. When we arrived we joined a line of people to pay – you pay for the size of gelato you want, and pick up a ticket. You then take your ticket to the gelato counter, where it’s every man for himself (think Brooklyn meat deli) – I noticed whilst we were waiting that they had milk-free options and when we requested these our server was awesome. We specified that we wanted milk free and chose our flavours, and he immediately put down the cone in his hand and said we wanted a cup (I assume the cone had risk of dairy) and then went out the back for a brand new paddle which he scooped my gelato with. I really appreciated how he took my intolerance seriously without being told – much better than here in the UK. We then went outside to eat! I chose Melon and Wild Cherry flavours and they were both out of this world. As we ate the line outside for ice cream snaked out of the door. I think we chose a perfect time to go in!

Another thing I noticed whilst we were there was that people ask for their gelato in a cone, use a spoon to eat it with and then throw the cone away…. Very confusing.

We did a huge amount of walking on this trip – we hit 23k in one day alone. I’m so glad I took my Sketchers and Tevas. I also sunburned by face quite badly on one of the days…. I’m such a sunshine novice!

I took loads of photos on this trip, so here’s a selection of some of my favourites!

It was an awesome trip and although I was tired by the end, I’m very glad I visited. I’d like to see other parts of Italy now, as I now don’t have the anxiety of the language barrier. If you can recommend other parts of Italy, then please go ahead in the comments. Where should I go next?