Caprese Tomato Pasta Salad

tomato pasta salad, vegan We seem to live off salad in the summer – to me there is not much more delightful than an array of stunning salads to dive into on a warm sunny day. But if we have them too often it’s easy to revert to the old family favourites again and again.

My girls love pasta salad, so much so that its become the ‘what I want to eat when I’m not feeling great’ staple! But like most children they like simple flavours with nothing too challenging. This was an attempt to get them to enjoy fresh tomatoes which they simply won’t eat (I have no idea why, I think tomatoes are one of the best foods on the planet!), I thought that if the tomatoes were in the pasta salad then maybe, just maybe they would be tempted. Well, I was wrong. There was no fooling them and the salad was left to one side. However, it was only a partial disaster as it left more for me and D and it is an absolute stunner of a salad, especially when made with a gorgeous array of sweet, ripe tomatoes. Do make sure they are the best tomatoes you can find as there are so few ingredients in the salad you really need the tomato flavour to shine through.

If you love tomatoes I’m sure you’ll love this recipe. If you like tomatoes you’ll find they work so beautifully with the pasta, balsamic vinegar and basil that you will start to love them. If you hate tomatoes, well, maybe this isn’t the right recipe for you!

Caprese Tomato Pasta Salad (egg-free, dairy-free ,nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) caprese pasta salad serves 4

200g pasta 200g mixed tomatoes, chopped fairly small Large handful of basil, roughly chopped 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper

  1. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and seasoning.
  2. Whilst the pasta is warm mix in the dressing, stir well and leave to cool to room temperature
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary – easy huh?

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Slow-roasted Tomatoes (Tomato Confits)

We’ve just started getting an organic veg box delivered again. It sounded like the perfect veggie inspiration, a box of unexpected vegetables to spark the imagination and challenge you to come up with recipes. The only problem is you can’t guarantee the state of the vegetables. This week we got some tomatoes (always welcome) but they were pretty sorry looking specimens, scarred and under-ripe. What to do with them? We obviously had to use them, but the thought of eating less than perfect tomatoes is hardly appealing.

I sometimes make a delicious Heston Blumenthal tomato confit recipe – slow roasted tomatoes, stored in oil – an ideal addition to a salad, or sandwich. This is my version, no basil, but plenty of oregano and a little sprinkle of sugar and salt to make the flavour sing. An alternative is to place slices of garlic on top and scatter with torn basil leaves, delicious!

Slow-roasted Tomatoes/Tomato Confits (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 1 small jar

  • 1 punnet of tomatoes, preferably ripe and delicious
  • caster sugar, to sprinkle
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • big pinch of salt
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • extra virgin olive oil

– Preheat the oven to Gas mark 2/150 Degrees Centigrade

– Line a baking sheet with foil

– Skin, core and deseed the tomatoes.

– Place on the foil and sprinkle with the sugar, herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil.

– Bake for approximately 2-3 hours, checking now and then and turning over once (if you remember!)

– Once cooked, peel off the foil and place in a glass jar.

– Top with oil, keep in the fridge and eat within a couple of weeks.

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Roasted Vegetables and Herby Couscous

This sauce is blinding! Packed full of sweet roasted tomato flavour, it adds to many a dish. Think pasta, pizza etc. I Particularly like it served with roasted vegetables and herby couscous – a super delicious healthy supper (add chicken, halloumi or tofu depending on your taste)

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Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 1 pack of ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • olive oil
  • seasoning
  • oregano
  • sugar

– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade

– Halve the tomatoes and place in a roasting tray. Add the sliced onions and garlic cloves. season, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs

– Roast for 30-40 minutes

– Pour into a liquidizer and blend. Add the tomato puree and sugar while it’s still whizzing. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Roasted Vegetables

  • any combination of peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, sweet potato, onions, aubergine, artichoke
  • cut into equal size pieces
  • place in a roasting tin and drizzle with oil, sprinkle seasoning and any herbs
  • Roast for at least 45 minutes

Herby Couscous

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • good handful of herbs

– Bring the water, oil, lemon juice and salt to the boil

– Pour over the couscous. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes

– Then fluff with a fork and fold through the herbs (check seasoning)