Early tomatoes still lack flavour in May but drying them with a drizzle of olive oil and basil intensifies their impact in a dish. Last year I was inundated with cherry tomatoes that I grew in pots on the terrace. They all seemed to ripen at once so I used this technique and then stored them in olive oil to use through the winter. They go well here in this vegetarian pasta dish, adding a rich flavour that makes a good partner to the asparagus.
Serves: 2. Prepare: 10 mins. Cook: 1 hour
- 100g cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 leaves fresh basil, shredded
- 200g fresh egg tagliatelle
- 125g asparagus tips
- 4-6 tbsp dry white wine
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 160C gas mark 3.
- Halve the tomatoes and arrange over the base of a small roasting tin. Drizzle with half the olive oil and scatter over the basil. Season and cook in the oven for 1 hour until shrivelled.
- Five mins before the tomatoes are ready, cook the asparagus tips in simmering water for 2-3 mins then drain and refresh under cold water to stop cooking.
- Drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water for 3-4 mins or according to packet instructions until tender.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, add the asparagus tips and cook for a minute.
- Add the wine and tomatoes with any juices and simmer till the wine is reduced by half. Season.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the asparagus and tomatoes. Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.
Aga cooks: You can dry tomatoes in the simmering oven to use in this dish and in the future. Prepare as above then cook on the bottom shelf of the simmering oven for 2 hours until shrivelled. Layer up in clean jars and cover completely with a good extra virgin olive oil. Seal and store for a couple of months. Store in the fridge once opened and use within a week.
- recipes Mary Gwynn
- pictures David Merewether