Food Challenge Week 6: Ratatouille Linguine

The Disney reference in the title of this week’s dish was just a happy coincidence, I assure you. In fact I didn’t realise I had named a dish after two of the characters in the Pixar film Ratatouille until I was just about to start writing this post….. I’m obviously a little slow on the uptake.

So this week’s recipe is a variation on this recipe. I have changed it up a little, firstly because I tasted it and it needed tweaking and secondly because I don’t like spaghetti… Oh and also because the idea of nutritional yeast creeps me out – but this dish doesn’t need cheese (or any alternative) on top anyway. Who puts cheese on ratatouille??

I’ll preface this recipe with the fact that I don’t like either aubergine or courgette, but G-Man does so I thought I’d go with it.

When I begin a recipe, I always start off by preparing all the veg, chopping it up (as long as it won’t go bad before I get to use it) and measuring out anything I need to so I can be relaxed and chilled when I’m actually doing the cooking.

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I chopped up 1 small white onion, 1 small aubergine, courgette and a normal sized pepper. All into small chunks.

I don’t like to use garlic when I can avoid it because, as I’ve mentioned before, we don’t really enjoy the acridity garlic gives, in this household. So when I can, I’ll use garlic oil instead. I heated 1 tbsp of garlic olive oil in my deep frying pan and lightly browned the chopped veg.

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Then I added chopped tomatoes (400g can), water (480ml boiled), balsamic vinegar (1 tsp) and then linguine for 2 people (which I snapped in half for easier cooking and eating!)

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I brought this to the boil and then letter it simmer for 13 minutes, lightly stirring occasionally (at 10 minutes test the pasta and then add on time in 1 minute increments until the pasta is cooked how you like, if it’s not al dente yet)

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The sauce will have thickened and it’ll all come together. Then taste and season. I added pepper, sea salt and a small teaspoon of sugar to help the tomatoes along. Stir, taste and continue to season until it’s perfect.

Take it off the heat and stir in 1 tbsp of chopped fresh basil.

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It’s a sloppy dish to eat, this one, so no white shirts to be worn during dinner!

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We started eating and felt like something was missing. It needed a flavour a little deeper, so G-Man suggested the Waitrose Balsamic Vinegar glaze we have in the cupboard. It’s very versatile and can be used hot or cold, so we drizzled some over top and WOW was he right. The glaze added just the right amount of sweetness and depth and really complemented the dish.

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Clean plates all round! This recipe actually made enough for 3 people, despite it being measured out for two, so I took the leftovers to work one day in the week, and it was just as good the second time around!

I think I’ll definitely be making this again, and it’ll be just as good in the Summer as it has been in the Winter.

Yum yum! 9.5/10 for this recipe even though I don’t usually like aubergine or courgette!

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!