This simple sauce is perfect for end-of-summer cherry tomatoes - perhaps when the vines are ready to come out to make way for winter crops. A quick glance at the ingredients list may make the reader think of ‘pesto alla trapanese’ - Sicily’s version of pesto frequently served with busiate, and well it should! But while ‘pesto alla trapanese’ is made with raw ingredients (and similarly its well-known cousin ‘pesto genovese’), for this sauce, tomatoes, garlic and basil sit in a low oven until they almost melt into a pool of extra virgin olive oil. We had this with potato gnocchi at a pasta workshop I taught recently, but it is also wonderful with orecchiette, and of course, busiate!
Roasted Tomato and Almond Sauce
SERVES 3 - 4
750 - 800 g cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 - 3 cloves garlic, flattened with the back of a knife but left whole
4 - 5 baby eggplants (or one medium eggplant), cut into wedges
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and dried chilli flakes
30 g unsalted butter
50 g whole almonds, coarsely chopped
Ricotta salata, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Place the tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and a couple of sprigs of basil in a heavy-based saucepan that can go in the oven. Pour over the oil and season with sea salt and dried chilli to taste. Roast for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very soft and beginning to brown in places. Stir through the butter, almonds and a handful of torn basil leaves. Add ‘al dente’ pasta and finish a generous grating of with ricotta salata.