Having recently returned from Valencia, I am already having desparate withdrawal symptoms from the food. The jamón ibérico, the huge, juicy tomatoes, the crispy fried calamari.... We did, however, manage to bring some wonderful bits back with us, including some spicy chorizo, two huge Valencian tomatoes and that lovely ceramic bowl you see before you.
Yes, it is absolutely a logical question to ask why we decided to bring back tomatoes, of all things. We were lured into the purchase by the magical selling tactics of a little old lady in Valencia's Central Market. Having been admiring the glorious array of tomtoes on this particular stall, we were suddenly aware of this little old lady saying 'Bueno, bueno, how many?' whilst packing the tomatoes into a bag for us. We managed to stop her at two, pay, then leave wondering what just happened. The problem then became how to go about eating these lovely tomatoes with no kitchen or knife. Like an apple? Juicy tomato chin is not a look I cared for sporting in Valencia, nor anywhere else other than the comfort of my own kitchen for that matter, so no.
A shop in Valencia's Central Market
The tomatoes were then safely, somehow, transported back to London ready to be roasted in all their wonderment for this here dish. I wanted to create something simple and unadulterated, highlighting the beauty of great ingredients. This dish is slightly spicy, slightly juicy and a little bit crunchy. If you would like to add Parmesan then please be my guest but I find the crunchy crumbs the perfect compliment without taking away from the chorizo or roasted tomatoes. Enjoy!
Quantities: Serves 4
Timings: 35 Mins
Kitchen Stuff: Big bowl, large roasting tin, medium non-stick frying pan, baking paper, tongs
750g big, juicy tomatoes, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
350g Orecchiette* pasta
150g – 200g spicy chorizo, sliced
100g (about 2 slices) day-old sourdough, made into breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 a lemon
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Italian dried herbs or dried thyme
*Orecchiette means 'little ear' in Italian (which I think is wonderful). If you can't come across any orecchiette then conchiglie - little shells - would also be lovely.
Preheat your oven to 200c and boil the kettle.
1. TOMATOES: Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper, or lightly oil the baking tray with olive oil. Place the tomato slices on the tray, it doesn’t matter if they are touching. Drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle on the sugar. Season with sea salt, black pepper and some dried Italian herbs (or thyme). Roast for 35 minutes until slightly shrivelled and browning at the edges.
2. CHORIZO: Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until starting to crisp up. Remove the chorizo from the pan into a separate bowl with tongs, leaving the chorizo oil in the frying pan.
3. CRUMBS: Mix the crumbs in a bowl with ¼ tsp chilli flakes, the fennel seeds, crushed garlic, a large pinch of sea salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the crumbs to the frying pan with the chorizo oil and mix together. Fry over a medium heat until the crumbs are golden and crispy then move to another bowl.
4. PASTA: Add the pasta to a pan of salted boiling water and cook per instructions until al dente (probably around 9-10 minutes). When draining the pasta keep about half a cup (any cup) of pasta water. Your tomato pinger should be going off about now. Remove your tomatoes from the oven.
5.COMBINE: Reserving 3-4 slices for decoration, add the roasted tomatoes to your empty serving bowl and break up with a wooden spoon or two. Spoon in the pasta and add a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and 1/4 tsp chili flakes (or less depending on your spice preference). Mix in the chorizo, just under half the bread crumbs and some of the pasta water to loosen. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Mix it all up. Serve op and sprinkle on the remaining crumbs. Eat right away. Pretend you're in Valencia.