I have not always loved cooking. In fact, I have only recently started to really enjoy it. In my 20s I quite happily ordered out, unless of course Mum was cooking up a feast. Over the past few years I have started to acquire a deep appreciation for good food. I love to go out to restaurants to try new dishes and could sit for hours just enjoying good food. I am also inspired to try cooking new dishes myself.
I have a kitchen the size of a shoebox. It has one tiny section of bench space so if I am making batches of buns or pasties you will find trays all over my dining table. Sometimes even on the floor (the trays, not the food). We have a plan to renovate our kitchen, eventually. Every time I am in the kitchen I think to myself, how lovely it will be to have ROOM. And a space that functions. One day.
As you know I work full time 5 days a week, so in the past after rolling in at 6pm cooking would be the last thing on my mind. Lately I have actually headed straight to the kitchen, excited to cook something yummy. The other night I decided to try Pasta Provencale. I have no idea about the origin or traditions surrounding this dish but I did have a damn good plate of it in the Swan Valley recently. This inspired me to make it myself. At the Little River Winery the dish consisted simply of penne, tomatoes, feta and some herbs. Very simple. On leaving I did ask the chef a few tips. Of course.
So here is my version. If anyone has any hints or tips please share with me. I have added vegetables I like although I am not sure if they are traditionally the vegetables one would add to a Provencale dish. I can say I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing this turned out. And Master T gobbled down a bowl and promptly asked for more. Win!
I have to add that I am not good at measuring when I cook, I tend to just ‘throw in’ what looks right to me. So the measurements here are an approximate guess, feel free to add or remove as you choose. Serves 4; to increase quantity cook 500g penne and increase vegetable portions.
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, whole
1 zucchini, chopped
8 mushrooms, quartered
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup basil leaves
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
Romano cheese, freshly shaved
Preheat oven to 200oC.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the penne according to the packet instructions. I used packet penne however next time I will make fresh pasta.
In a baking dish place tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and onion. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and season with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then add mushrooms and roast for a further 5-10 minutes. If you like your mushrooms softer you could bake for slightly longer.
Remove tray from the oven and place the tomatoes into a bowl and squash. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and mix, then add the remaining roasted vegetables and mix together gently.
Heat up a large frying pan and pour the roasted mixture into the pan. Add the cooked and drained pasta, tear the basil leaves over the top and toss until the sauce is mixed through nicely. Remove from heat, season, and serve with freshly shaved Romano cheese and pine nuts.