Fragrant fresh tomato sauce and a gluten free pasta solution
Here is a quick pasta dish that is one of my favourites. Now you could easily make this with Durum Wheat or even Whole Wheat Pasta (Spaghetti would be ideal) but these pastas ofcourse have gluten in them and from my recent ranting post you will know what treachery gluten has done unto me. What’s more, most pastas that claim to be Gluten Free have Corn and unfortunately that’s something else that I am allergic too. But pasta is one thing I am absolutely NOT ready to give up on. Infact that’s one of my pet projects that I have planned. Making GF pasta at home from scratch. I have even worked out a flour blend that should work. Yippee! For now. when I need a quick fix, I have taken to making pasta with Thai rice noodles. And to my absolute delight, cooked al- dente, they worked pretty well!
I always say that Pasta is a staple for me. After my time in Auroville where pasta was inevitably one of the 3 meals in the day, I crave pasta just the way I crave rice. (Hello Italians, I am up for adoption if you are interested!) As my relationship with Pasta dishes grew one of the things I quickly came to recognise is that I love the tomato based sauces better than the white cheesy ones; which is ofcourse not how I started out. I started with a deep love for the cheesy bechamel variety and the meaty carbonaras but quickly discovered a more abiding love for the real tomato based ones. Unfortunately, more often than not what we get in the name of tomato sauces at most restaurants are really terrible, off-balance tasteless red slushy messes. Real tomato based sauces are a beautiful balance of salty, sweet and tangy. And there’s really a range of tomato sauces out there. A range that starts with this fresh, fragrant, no cook variety below on one end to travel through the quick cook, chunky tomato version; through the gorgeous slow roasted goodness; to the slow-cooked smooth, rich, tangy-sweet, almost buttery tasting ones on the other end of the spectrum. Almost all do well with cheese and most benefit from a good hit of garlic. And ofcourse the pretty tomatoes love oregano, basil and olive oil.
Pasta with a Herby Fresh Tomato Sauce
I have always loved this dish and never more so than when craving pasta on a hot summer day or when I need pasta that travels well. There are a few variations that you could try too (see notes below) but the simple marinated tomatoes themselves are an absolute thing of joy. While making this as a pasta dish, the important thing is to find a pasta or noodle that is thin and long so that the juices from the tomato coat every strand. The long stringy pastas provide more surface area for the thin sauce to cling to and add more flavour to every mouthful. Best thing, this is a super quick quick yummy dish that comes together really easily and can be made upto 8 hours ahead with no loss of flavour.
- 150 gms vermicelli rice noodles
- 8 tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 1 small onion, diced fine
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- olive oil 2-3T
- 2T each finely chopped fresh basil and oregano
- salt to taste
Combine everything except the noodles. Let sit for atleast 15 minutes. Don’t be skimpy with the salt since it’s the salt that draws the juices out of the tomatoes and makes them incredibly luscious and flavourful and a whole other animal from what you would think cut tomatoes to be. Also remember to compensating for the fact that the dish will bulk up as the pasta/noodles get added. Along with salt go in the herbs, onions, garlic and olive oil; each ingredient adding hits of fragrance and flavour.
If using the Thai vermicelli, boil a generous amount of water in a large pot and add in the noodles. Turn off immediately. Let noodles soften for about 2 minutes and then drain off the hot water. If using any regular pasta, cook according to the packs instructions till aldente. Drain.
Toss the hot noodles/pasta in the tomato dressing and serve immediately or cold.
- You could just use the sauce as a topping on toasted, garlic rubbed baguette slices to make some great bruschettas.
- Add the hot noodles to the sauce with cubes of mozzarella and cover for a minute to let the cheese soften. Yum!
- You could even throw in some arugula leaves to make this even more salady and nutritious
- Add some lemon juice and zest, chilli flakes and olives for piquant variation
- prawn cooked in chilli and garlic are another addition that works well with this pasta