With the opening of Manchester's very own branch of Jamie's Italian causing quite the stir, I whipped out the Jamie's Italy book and very much enjoyed revisiting its well-used, tomato-stained pages.
Now many a person has taken the mick out of me in the past for my love of baking things in the oven, namely pasta, that don't need to be baked. Bailey often rolls his eyes when he sees me transferring what would otherwise be a rather nice and potentially classy pasta meal to our oven dish and grating with cheese ready for a good baking. So it's no surprise that one of my favourite recipes from Jamie's Italy is the Pasta al Forno (baked yeah?) con Pomodori e Mozzarella.
We used to make this recipe quite a lot because they used to sell the Orecchiette pasta at our local Morrison's, but suddenly they stopped selling it. I would never bother trying to make this without it because, even though the sauce is really lovely and super rich with tomatoes, there's something about the Orecchiette that makes this dish super special - it's almost like a cross between pasta and gnocchi because it's so fluffy and slightly sticky, plus it seems to absorb loads of the flavour into its little shell shapes.
Luckily for us the Orecchiette love was rekindled recently when I spotted a packet on the shelves of the Barbakan Deli one morning when we were having our brekkie there. I snapped it up there and then and decided to attempt create an alternative Jamie's Italian in our own home, just while we wait for an opportunity to go to the real one.
Unfortunately as we were having a bit of a budget week I had to make a few tweaks of the recipe and some not-so quality tomatoes went into there but, call me a pleb, you couldn't really tell.
It came out very yummy and I was very pleased with the deliciously tomatoey sauce with a bit of a chilli kick. I had to really restrain myself from eating the portion I had put aside for my packed lunch for the next day, but I'm glad I did because I got to enjoy it all over again. I was very pleased with myself when Hayley tasted it in the staff room and said "That is exactly like what Keiran's grandma makes". Yeah boy!
2 cloves of garlic
2 dried chillis
A pinch of chilli flakes
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 carton of passata
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
500g Orecchiette pasta
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Start by preparing the Orecchiette according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Finely peel and chop the onions and garlic, crumble the dried chiilis and add them all to a hot frying pan with the chilli flakes. Cook over a low heat for around 10 minutes until softened.
Add the tomatoes and passata to the pan with the onions and things. Bring them to the boil then simmer for around 20 minutes so it gets all lovely and rich.
Take the sauce off the heat and blend to make a nice sauce.
To the sauce, add half of the parmesan cheese and the white wine vinegar.
Drain your cooked Orecchiette pasta off.
Add the Orecchiette to an oven dish before pouring the sauce over the top and mixing up.
Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the remaining parmesan before placing into the oven for around 15-20 minutes or until all the cheese is lovely and bubbly.
Serve with some crispy dressed salad leaves! Nom!