I simply love a challenge. Almost as much as I love a surprise. So when the folks from ZZ2 asked me if I would take part in their Mouthwatering Box campaign, naturally the answer was yes. Who is ZZ2? You may have spotted them in your local supermarket without realising it. It’s a farming conglomerate that operates in Limpopo, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. Large-scale biological farming is their thing and they produce the likes of onions, avos, apples, pears and truckloads of tomato – 160 000 tonnes of it every year to be precise. Oh yes, they also farm with cattle.
Now the deal was I would get a mystery box, and I needed to come up with a recipe using at least two ingredients from the box. Since they do cattle, I rather hoped there would be a cow in the box. I guess size presented a problem, because nothing mooed when they delivered. But I was not disappointed, because in my box I found some avo, onions, garlic and about five different kinds of tomato. Gorgeous beauties with exotic names like Bacio, Flavio and Rigoletto that make me want to sing bad opera.
It was a bit of a no-brainer that tomato had to be one of my stars. But what would my other be? Hands down it had to be the garlic bulbs – plump, fleshy and juicy, just the way they should be. I knew they would be awesome drizzled with olive oil and roasted until they turn into a soft, sweet, highly perfumed puree.
So I did just that. Then I drizzled some top-notch olive oil into a pan, and added the roasted garlic puree, a sprinkling of dry chilli and a few anchovy fillets. Now before you go ‘eeuw’, anchovy is a magical thing because it simply melts away as you cook it and leaves you with a deeply satisfying umami taste. Tumble in a ton of tomatoes and loads of parsley plus some oregano and basil and mix the lot with pasta. I used beetroot pasta because it’s winter and I can use a little colour to cheer me up. So here it is: Roasted Garlic and Fresh Tomato Pasta – summer on a plate.
Super important PS about WINNING: You too can get a mystery box from ZZ2 plus a R1 000 Checkers voucher! What do you need to do to stand a chance to win? Simply go to the ZZ2 Facebook page and tell them what you would cook with two or more of the following ingredients: fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, onions, garlic.
Even more important PPS: I still had tomatoes left so, even though I’d only agreed to making one recipe, I made two. It will be up tomorrow, so be sure to come visit Merlot and me again.
All you need is…
1 whole large garlic bulb
350g tomatoes (I used a mixture of small red and yellow ones)
4 anchovy fillets
12 tbs quality extra virgin olive oil, plus some extra to drizzle
pinch of red chilli flakes (I like a kick, so mine is more of a PINCH)
very large handful of flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbs fresh oregano
handful fresh basil, torn
course sea salt (I use Maldon)
freshly ground black pepper
cooked pasta of your choice
fresh parmesan, for serving
Stand the garlic bulk on its base and cut 0.5-1cm off the top of the bulb to reveal the inside of the cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the cloves, wrap the bulb in tinfoil and roast it in a 200 degree Celsius oven for about 30 minutes until the flesh inside the cloves has turned to a puree.
In the meantime, cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters, place in a colander and sprinkle generously with some course sea salt – about one teaspoon. Allow to stand for 20 minutes. (This is not strictly necessary, but by doing this, you’ll extract some of the water from the tomatoes, intensifying the tomato flavour considerably. NB: do NOT rinse the tomatoes afterwards, as that will rather defeat the object. Most of the salt will have been washed away in the liquid that will drain out.)
Heat 12 tbs of olive oil in pan and squeeze the garlic puree out of the cloves into the oil along with the anchovies and chilli. Fry for a minute or two just until the anchovies have melted away. Now add the parsley and oregano, as well as the tomatoes. Toss through just until the tomatoes are slightly warmed through – you want them fresh, not cooked. Toss in the pasta and add more salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with the basil scattered over and some fresh parmesan shavings.