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January 25, 2010

Tomato & Basil Ovenbake

Ok, here's the recipe for the pasta dish. Let's call it Tomato and Basil Ovenbake. It serves 2 if it is all you're having. If you're having it as a side dish it may serve up to 4 people - if those 4 people aren't too pasta greedy!

200 grams of pasta penne
olive oil, salt, black pepper, cheyenne pepper, chilli powder (only use a little salt and use spices at your discretion: some like it hot, some don't!)
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced (more if you want!)
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
400 ml of tomato passata (I like the Italian one from Sainsbury)
200 ml water
2-4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2-3 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, lightly chopped
Mozzarella cheese, sliced. Use about half* of one of the fresh 'balls' you can usually buy in supermarkets
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated. Use 3-4 handfuls

How you make it:
Heat oil and spices in a saucepan. When it is hot, add garlic and onions, stir until the onion turns clear. Add tomato passata, salt and water. Leave to simmer under tight lid for about 10 minutes. Then add tomatoes and basil, and simmer for another 10 minutes, with the lid perching on the saucepan so the steam can escape - this will help the sauce thicken a bit.

While the sauce is cooking, boil the pasta with a bit of salt for about half the time it says on the package; it should be soft, but not yet al dente. Drain and rinse to remove excess salt.

Put the pasta into an oven dish, pour in the tomato sauce. Put mozzarella slices on top and finish off with parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with a bit of olive oil if you fancy. Bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes at 200°C - it is ready when the cheese has turned golden.

*If you have leftover fresh mozzarella cheese, you can store it in the fridge in salt water ('brine'). Boil 500 ml water, stir in 1 teaspoon salt, leave to cool. Put your remaining mozzarella cheese in a container, cover with your salt water and close with a tight-fiting lid. Discard the remaining water. Keep in the fridge for 1 day. Pour out salt water and rinse with clean water before use.

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