Two simple ingredients, unassuming and straight-forward on their own, when combined in a specific way become miraculous. This could describe elements, art, people, and in this circumstance a pasta sauce. I’ve been devouring a new cookbook, written by a lovely woman named Anja Dunk, called Strudels, Noodles and Dumplings: A Modern Taste of German Cooking.
I’ve always loved German flavors, but this books takes my rudimentary knowledge and expands it directions that I didn’t know I didn’t know. Her recipes are simple, but all of them have deep, satisfying flavors that lend themselves beautifully to shorter evenings and chilly nights.
I gravitated towards this recipe first because this method for making pasta sauce has been one of my favorites, (see my creamy oven roasted tomato sauce) but the combination of cumin seeds and tomatoes was one that I haven’t attempted before.
Cherry tomatoes and cumin seeds, bright and smoky, bound with butter and roasted until the flavors mellow together into a silky, golden sauce. I toasted the cumin seeds before grinding them in a mortar and pestle, which filled the kitchen with a lovely smell almost immediately. I also resisted the urge to add any acid to the dish, because that’s not really what this sauce is about. It’s a grounded dish that’s very comforting, the acid from the tomatoes slides into the butter and cumin combination. It pulls you down into a feeling of satisfaction and calm. There isn’t a need for a bright note. Save that for August when summer flavors call for a splash of energy and evenings last until 10pm.
I recommend using fresh pasta noodles with this sauce, even better if you make them yourself, but as my pasta maker is currently in storage, I bought a bag of fresh tagliatelle from Waitrose which it worked beautifully.
I served this pasta over a bed of cavolo nero kale massaged with malt vinegar, because I can’t eat anything that doesn’t have 1) kale and 2) acid, in it. Just living my truth.
Tomatoes Roasted with Butter and Cumin
1000g of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (roughly two packages)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 tbsp of cumin seeds
200g of butter, cubed
salt and pepper
Put on a pan of heavily salted water to boil. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Place cumin seeds in a dry cast iron pan and place on medium heat. Toast until the seeds start to get a bit darker and release fragrance, (mmmm). Grind the seeds in a mortar or in a spice grinder. I like having more texture to my seeds, so I used a mortar and pestle.
Put seeds in the bottom of your cast iron pan, or deep ceramic dish. Pile in tomatoes, spread the garlic over the tomatoes evenly, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then dot with butter. Place in the over and roast until the tomatoes are soft and golden. Around 25mins.
At the very end, drop your pasta in the water. If it’s fresh, it will only take about 3-4 minutes to cook. Drain and then toss through the pasta sauce. Serve with fresh pepper and a soft dusting of parmesan cheese.