As the dominant cook in my household (hubby CAN cook, but works evenings most of the time, and besides that is a typical male cook – every pan in the house, mess everywhere, two day’s worth of washing up left ‘to soak’), I’m all too aware of how tough it can be coming up with something tasty for dinner day in, day out. Snatching time between work, social life and household chores to put something tasty on the table every night can be tricky, but it’s well worth it, and it’s something I try hard to do (the odd takeaway notwithstanding).
Recently my friend Steph challenged me to come up with a selection of recipe ideas, not for herself but for her long-suffering boyfriend Chris, who as it happens is a student at Southampton alongside my own dear sister-in-law (the world is tiny, really!). Chris is a trainee doctor, so his hours are long and unsociable; and to add to the challenge he is also a fitness fanatic, running marathons and basically spending all his spare time pummelling his body in gruelly workouts and sports activities. I enjoy a challenge, so here is the first in a series of recipes I’d like to call Chris’s Dishes.
Simple to make and tasty to eat, this is the food I love to have when I get home from work, and I hope it will inspire you to try something new rather than reaching for the takeaway menu next time your dinner muse goes AWOL. Not all of them can be done in 10 minutes, but if it can be assembled in five and then shoved in the oven for an hour, sometimes I think that’s the best of all – prep as soon as I get home, tuck it away in the oven or to the back of the hob, then get on with little bits and pieces until it’s ready (or just flop on the sofa with a glass of wine!). We will begin with that stalwart of easy suppers – pasta.
Spaghetti with roasted cherry tomatoes & feta
Serves 1 hungry marathon runner or 2 regular people
1 pack cherry tomatoes (approx 335g)
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (or a big pinch of dried will do, so long as the jar hasn’t been in the back of the cupboard for two years)
150-200g spaghetti (you know how hungry you are)
75g feta cheese
Preheat your oven to 200˚C/Gas 6. Cut your tomatoes in half and pop into a smallish baking dish or roasting tray. Add your crushed garlic and herbage, season with salt & pepper, then drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil. Toss together briefly, then chuck in the oven for 30-45 mins until the tomatoes have shrivelled a bit and charred in places.
When your tomatoes are nearly done, bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt it generously (it should taste like sea water) and cook your pasta. Most kinds will take 10-12 minutes, check your packet for timings. Remove your tomatoes from the oven and splash in a spoonful of water from the pasta, and stir gently to loosen all the delicious goo from the bottom of the roasting dish. Drain your pasta and add to the tomatoes, tossing to coat the pasta in all the delicious oil and juice. Serve with the feta crumbled over the top. Buon appetito!