Today was my favorite kind of Sunday - a day with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The sort of day that generously allows you to dabble in many pursuits. There was a little bit of tennis (which I lost, by more than a little), a little bit of time in the public library, a little bit of time with family on the phone, a little bit of TV watching on the couch and a little bit of cooking.
In fact, there was hardly any cooking. This pasta sauce practically cooked itself. All I did was quarter a few tomatoes, rinse and dry a shiny red pepper, and drizzle some olive oil on a whole head of garlic. Then, I dumped them all on a sheet pan, cranked up the oven, and went about my business.
In under an hour, the tomatoes had shriveled to a fraction of their original size, and the bell pepper had turned glossy and slightly charred. Best of all, the pungent head of garlic I started with turned soft and jammy, ready to surrender at the gentlest of pokes with a fork. I popped a clove in my mouth to see what the fuss about roasted garlic on the internet is all about. While I cannot claim that it was "sweet", as some reviewers have gushingly said online, I was pleasantly surprised at the mellow, nutty flavor of the garlic, brought out by nothing more than a splash of good olive oil and some time in the oven.
The final step is to add some salt and basil leaves, and blitz all the ingredients in a blender. Then the sauce is ready to be tossed with some cooked pasta, parmesan, and if you like some heat, chili flakes. Before you know it, you'll have a generous enough portion of comfort food to dull the pain that comes with the end of good things.
Roasted Red Pepper Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce (serves two)
Adapted from this recipe
4 medium sized tomatoes, quartered
1 medium sized head of garlic
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper
handful of basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Cut off and discard top quarter of garlic head and wrap remainder in foil. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a foil-lined 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add whole bell pepper and garlic (in foil) to pan and roast vegetables in middle of oven for 45 mins to an 1 hour.
Transfer bell pepper to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel pepper, discarding stem and seeds, and transfer to a food processor or blender along with tomatoes.
Unwrap garlic and squeeze roasted cloves from skin into food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste, then blend until smooth.