Thursday, August 12, 2010

Slow cooked

M has been working late all this week, eating at the office and not coming home until after 10pm each night. So I am left cooking for one. This week, I decided to make up a large batch of slow-cooked tomato and olive sauce for pasta - one of the advantages of working from home as I can leave pots simmering on the hob for hours while I work upstairs.

Slow-cooked tomato and olive sauce for pasta
Serves 4

In a heavy-based saucepan*, gently fry a large handful of chopped pancetta in olive oil until nearly crisp. Stir in four minced cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of red chilli flakes, a tablespoon of mixed dried herbs and two large handfuls of chopped and pitted black or green olives. Make sure the heat is low and stir for a few minutes until the garlic releases its aroma. Add two 400g tins of plum tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato puree, a cup of roasted cherry tomatoes** and a teaspoon of salt. Stir well, bring mixture to the boil, then turn the heat right down, put a lid on ajar and simmer for two or three hours, checking and stirring the mixture periodically.

* I used a Le Creuset cast iron casserole.
** After we'd make roast chicken at the weekend, we put a tray of cherry tomatoes on the vine topped with herbs fresh from the garden into the still hot oven and left it overnight so the tomatoes slow-roasted as the oven cooled down.

Yesterday, I fancied dal for lunch. The recipe couldn't be simpler and it simmered away for an hour as I worked.

Simple dal
Serves 6

In a saucepan, gently fry in olive oil a chopped small onion and two cloves of minced garlic. When the onion and garlic mixture has softened, add a teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin, ground turmeric, salt and half a teaspoon of red chilli flakes. Stir on a low heat for a minute then add four generous handfuls of red lentils. Fry together for a few minutes then add 1.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil then cover ajar and simmer on a very low heat for 45 mins to 1 hour.

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