Ooh, tomatoes two ways. So MasterChef, don’t you think? But one of the points of this recipe really is that one gets to treat the tomatoes essentially as two separate ingredients with separate tastes – the slow-roasted tomatoes (and yes, I know I’m obsessed with these at present) are sweet and deep in flavour, and raw tomatoes are fresh and light and a bit more acidic. Yum. As a bonus, you get to use up some of the zucchini which are hopefully taking over your garden in tandem with the tomatoes. Mine aren’t actually taking over yet, but I live in hope. And I do seem to be nicely off for zucchinis at present.
And then you top the whole glorious thing off with a big glob (or quenelle, if you are feeling fancy) of broccoli pesto, which has the quadruple advantage of looking good, tasting excellent, adding a bit of protein to your life, and, best of all, not needing to be stirred through the pasta! (Seriously, has anyone ever achieved a home-made pesto which was actually sufficiently non-solid in texture that it didn’t destroy the pasta or else just sit there in petulant little clumps, mocking you for attempting to stir it through?)
It’s good stuff.
This recipe turns out to serve three people, with rather a lot of pesto left over. Such a shame – you’ll have to have the reset of it on your beetroot gnocchi tomorrow night…
Your shopping list450 g cherry tomatoes, preferably from your garden and in assorted colours 5 big roma tomatoes olive oil, salt, pepper 1 head of broccoli 50 g pine nuts 25 g pistachios 115 g basil puree from a tube 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 50 g parmesan 500 g gnocchi 4 zucchini, any kind
Now what will you do with it?
Pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Halve all the cherry tomatoes, and set about 250 g of them aside for later.
Put the rest into a large baking dish, and then cut the roma tomatoes into wedges and add them to the dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss. Bake for an hour, or until the tomatoes are soft and a bit caramelised (another MasterChef word!). Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes – they don’t need to be piping hot for this recipe.
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Chop the head of broccoli into rough florets. Cut off the bottom centimetre or so of stem, then peel the rest and roughly chop it. Put it into a food processor.
Toast the pine nuts and pistachios, and add to the food processor along with the basil puree, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan. Season, then process until you have a slightly rough puree.
Slice your zucchini, and then sauté them in a frying pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until golden in places. Add to the baking tray with the cooked tomatoes, and add the fresh tomatoes, too. Toss around a bit.
Add a smidge more olive oil to the pan, and sauté the gnocchi until golden. You could also cook the gnocchi conventionally in boiling water until they pop up and start floating, or you could cook about 300 g of wholemeal pasta instead.
Add your gnocchi to the baking tray, and toss everything to combine. Divide between three bowls, and serve with a big spoonful of broccoli pesto over each.
This recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free and egg-free (presuming that you choose your gnocchi carefully). It’s pretty low fructose, though pistachios and broccoli both have moderate levels of fructans, so the pesto should be eaten in moderation (ie, don’t go back for seconds – one big spoonful should be fine). The pesto is pretty tasty even without parmesan, so if you are avoiding dairy, you can just skip that part of the recipe. Taste for salt, and consider adding capers or sun dried tomatoes for a little extra zing of flavour. Making the recipe nut-free is trickier, because of the pesto. Some people who are allergic to nuts can manage pine nuts or seeds, so these are possible substitutes, but please don’t rely on this being the case. I think you would still get a tasty green basil and broccoli sauce by just skipping the nuts, and you could use fresh breadcrumbs if it were too thin.
In terms of flavours, you could use all sorts of different herbs for your pesto – a mint pesto would be great with these flavours, or you could go with coriander and chilli for a vaguely Mexican palate. In fact, you could use a bunch of fresh coriander and an avocado instead of the herb puree I was suggesting, and get a sort of guacamole pesto cross which would be *amazing*. I’d use a bit of chilli and cumin in the pan with my zucchini and gnocchi in this case. If you don’t have basil-from-a-tube, I suspect you need about 1 1/2 bunches of fresh basil and a lot more olive oil to replace it. Sorry. I’m just too lazy to use fresh basil in grant-writing season…
I’m submitting this recipe to my Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge for February, which has the theme of Tomatoes. There are already a couple of truly fascinating recipes there, so please have a look at them… and then maybe share one of your own.
I am also submitting this to the March Pasta Please challenge, hosted by Utterly Scrummy with a theme of tomatoes – because I am still drowning in tomatoes, and more tomato recipes should be encouraged!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Farmers Market with Teeny Tiny Eggplants Two years ago: Preparation time