Healthy meals shouldn’t be difficult and sometimes you need a simple pasta dish up your sleeve. And this one is a winner. Plus it’s perfect for summer as that’s when these ingredients are at their tastiest. The key to this pasta is quality produce, you need ripe flavoursome tomatoes, fragrant basil and good quality oil and balsamic.
You can use any pasta you like in this, even just spiralized zucchini if you want to make it lighter! But make sure you choose a good quality one as the sauce is simple so there’s no hiding anything. I love using whatever tomatoes I can get that are local, you could use big tomatoes but you might want to cut them in half or even quarter to match the size of a mini roma – or you’ll need to adjust cooking times.
Pasta doesn’t need to be a food you avoid as part of a healthy diet, just watch your portion size and make a yummy homemade sauce so you know exactly what’s in it. Then again, I try not to have a blanket approach of avoiding any food, rather I like to eat really yummy food in a variety of colours, flavours etc that I enjoy. If you don’t want to eat pasta then just spiralize zucchini instead as suggested above. The portion size suggested here should make a filling dinner, especially if served with a side salad of similarly summery ingredients such as this pea and zucchini salad. If you want to serve more than 2 people then just multiply the ingredients as needed – it’ll work out perfectly.
You could replace the parmesan with a smaller amount of fetta or fresh mozzarella if that’s what you’ve got. I’ve been unspecific on the quantities because I always grate/shave extra parmesan with the knowledge that my boyfriend will eat some every time he walks past the chopping board. So what actually goes into the dish is always less than what I prepare… how much less only Fraser knows. Okay, so I totally pick at it to.
400g mini roma tomatoes or similar
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp good quality salt flakes
1/2 tsp pepper
5 sprigs thyme
1.5 cups basil leaves, large ones torn
1/2 – 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan (depending on your preference)
1/4 tsp of dried chilli flakes
250-300g rigatoni (I used spelt, as I find it gentler on my stomach but just use your favourite)
more salt for pasta water
Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius, place tomatoes in a small baking tray, you want them to sit close together but not too snug. Add the olive oil, balsamic, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to coat tomatoes and place in the preheated oven. Roast for 45 minutes- 1 hour until the skins have got wrinkly but not coloured and they collapse when prodded.
Meanwhile put a large pot of water on to boil and cook pasta according to instructions, timing so that it is al dente when tomatoes are done. Drain pasta reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and pour in the tomatoes including all their cooking liquid, stir around to break them up and coat the pasta. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if you think it’s too dry.
Add all but a few leaves of the basil (yo can garnish with these) and all but 1 Tbs of the parmesan (also for garnish) and a pinch of the chilli, add more chilli to taste. Stir to combine and serve, topped with reserved basil and parmesan .