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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Conchiglie with Roasted Tomato, Garlic and Bock Sauce

I love Italian food. Maybe its because I spent a lot of time there as a youngster, maybe it’s because I watched too much Jamie Oliver growing up; I just cant help but love the simplicity and the emphasis that’s put on produce and provenance. Is there anything better than slices of ripe tomato, torn mozzarella, basil leaves and olive oil? Toasted ciabatta, Parmesan and pesto. Stone-baked sourdough pizza, hazelnut gelato …

And pasta. I eat loads of pasta during the week because it’s quick, delicious and really versatile. A real favourite is roasted tomato and garlic with spaghetti or linguine. I usually take bread crumbs and combine them with salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme and garlic. Slice some tomatoes in half, pack the crumb mixture down into the fleshy part and roast on a low heat for an hour.

When they’re all nice and roasted, I throw them into a blender with some passata, a squeeze of tomato puree and another big slug of good olive oil. That’ll make you a fantastic sauce to stir through pasta, but something I really like to do is then add about half a bottle of Peroni Gran Riserva. Continue blending until well mixed and then return to the heat to thicken slightly.

I find that the beer adds a honey-like, malt sweetness that you don’t get by adding table sugar. The beer adds depth and richness to the sauce; by drinking the rest of the bottle with the food you’ll be able to pull out spicy, muscovado sugar and ripe fruity flavours in the sauce that wouldn’t be there without the beer.

As a nice variation: at the point where you add the beer, just keep on adding, and you'll end up with a delicious soup. Have that with some toasted bread and you're sorted. Peroni Gran Riserva is sold in lots of supermarkets, but if you have another light (or 'helles') bock instead, I'm sure it would work equally well.