Gnocchi with Roast Tomato Sauce

Coming towards the end of summer, seasonal tomatoes are beginning to loose some of their vibrance. Still delicious but I feel a lot less guilty about cooking them up into something saucy. Tomato based pasta sauces are some of my favourite and using fresh tomatoes always elevates them to glorious heights. This sauce is simple, subtle and can go with any pasta of your choice. I have decided to use gnocchi for its soft pillowy character. The gnocchi I've used is a good quality fresh make from the supermarket. I have made them from scratch in the past and of course nothing could touch them but it does require a lot of time and patience. For a quick meal, pre-made is perfect.

Roasting the fresh tomatoes with whole cloves of garlic and fresh origanum gives the sauce an altogether special quality. The tomatoes don't need too long in the oven, just until they become soft and caramelised on the edges. You can use any tomatoes for this sauce, I like two varieties at least, this gives the sauce added dimension and flavour. So I used large fleshy plum tomatoes and the sweetest cherry tomatoes too. This is also a great way to use up tomatoes that are too soft for cutting. I always make more than necessary and enjoy it throughout the week, adding it to various dishes. The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be frozen for up to a month.

Recipe (serves 2)

4 large plum tomatoes, cut in half
handful cherry tomatoes
fresh origanum
4 or 5 cloves garlic with the skins left on
1 shallot, sliced
olive oil
1 tbsp double cream (optional)
1/2 tsp vegetable stock
1/2 tsp sugar
sea salt and black pepper

400g gnocchi

Preheat oven to 190C. Place tomatoes, garlic cloves in a roasting dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper, drizzle over about a tablespoon of olive oil. Top with fresh sprigs of origanum. Roast for about 30 minutes, until soft and caramelized. The garlic should be soft too. 

In the meantime, saute shallot until soft. When tomatoes are ready, remove origanum and garlic. Put tomatoes in with the shallot, use a spoon to crush them up a bit. Add 100ml of water, stock and sugar. Bring to the boil. Remove garlic from their skins and add to the sauce. Add a few more origanum leaves too. Season to taste. Simmer for a couple of minutes until flavours come together. Blitz until smoothish and add the cream. Heat for another minute whilst making the gnocchi. Serve hot with grated parmesan and basil pesto. 

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