Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta

27 Jan

Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta

They talk of "trial by fire" as a true test of character – instances of it abound in medieval Europe as much as Indian mythology.

While one may question the veracity of such a test with reference to people, it does throw up interesting results when applied to fruits and vegetables.

I’m referring to roasting.

Placing raw whole vegetables on an open flame and slow-cooking them brings out latent attributes that you wouldn’t even know existed. Roasted capsicum becomes juicy and sweet, shedding much of its pepperiness; tomatoes take on a delicious smoky note.

This tomato olive capsicum pasta – with its key ingredients roasted – has a lot of character. It has been through trial by fire, after all.

Here’s for you one of my best-loved meals.

Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta

You Need:

[for 1-2 servings]

  • Pasta – 1 cup (fusili)
  • Capsicum (green bell pepper) – 1
  • Tomatoes – 2
  • Garlic – 1/2 teaspoon, finely chopped
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Chili flakes – to taste
  • Olives – 1 tablespoon
  • Oil – 2 teaspoons (for cooking)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 1 teaspoon (as topping)

Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta Ingredients

Clockwise from the top: capsicum, garlic, red chili flakes, dried oregano, olive slices, pasta, tomatoes.

How To Make Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta:

1. Boil the pasta

In a large thick-bottom pot, boil 6 cups of water with a teaspoon of salt. Lower heat, tip the pasta in, stir and simmer till the pasta is cooked. The cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of pasta – pierce a piece of pasta with a fork and check for "doneness". If the fork goes in smoothly, the pasta is done.

I used Del Monte fusili, which takes about 8 minutes to cook.

[More tips and methods for cooking pasta, over at LifeHacker.]

When the pasta is read, run cold water over it (so that it doesn’t cook any further) and drain and keep ready for further use.

Pasta, Boiled

Tip: Reserve some of the cooking liquid to add to the pasta sauce later. The starch released from the pasta adds richness and flavor to the sauce.

B. Roast the capsicum

Place the whole capsicum directly on the fire, as you do with eggplant for making baingan bharta.

Bell Pepper, Roasting

Turn around till all sides are charred. Cool, remove the thin skin.

Slit it, deseed and chop into thin pieces.

Roasted Bell Pepper, Chopped

C. Roast the tomatoes

Coat the base of a small non-stick pan with a teaspoon of oil. Place the whole tomatoes on the pan and cook covered.

Tomatoes, Roasting

Keep the heat low and turn the tomatoes around a few times, till the tomatoes are roasted all around.

Take the pan off the heat and keep covered while it cools. This will help the heat to percolate till the core of the tomatoes gradually.

When cool, cut the tomatoes in quarters, taking care not to lose the juices. Scoop all of the juices and the tomato quarters into a blender.

Roasted Tomato Quarters

Puree the roasted tomato quarters.

Roasted Tomato Puree

D. Make the sauce

Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add the chopped garlic. When the garlic begins to turn brown add the roasted tomato puree and salt. Stir occasionally. Add half a cup of the reserved water the pasta was boiled in, more if you want a thinner sauce.

Pasta Sauce, Cooking

After 5 minutes of cooking, add red chili flakes and dried oregano.

E. Put it all together

Into the sauce, add the roasted capsicum slices, olives, boiled pasta and toss. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Tomato olive capsicum pasta is ready to serve.

Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta

Garnish with an extra sprinkling of oregano and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Tomato Olive Capsicum Pasta

Tips:

You can easily work on the steps above in parallel: have the sauce cooking or the capsicum roasting while the pasta boils. As with chapati-making, don’t let the four parts make you think it’s complicated – it isn’t!

Want more pasta recipes? See spinach cheese pasta, and this technique to make a rich homemade pasta sauce.

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