Friday, February 1, 2013

Pasta sauce: reinvented

Rain and strikes -- today was a typical Brussels day.  It started raining about a week ago, and I hasn't stopped since for more than a couple of hours. Of course the rain is accompanied by strong wind, which makes carrying an umbrella more or less as useful as swinging a stick.  
Strikes are also a significant and imperative part of everyday life here.  All sorts of people come to the capital of the EU to voice their opinion... or just take a "day off" and combine the protesting with some sight-seeing.  

Funnily enough, weather and strikes immediately become the key conversation item.  Suddenly this is all people can talk about.  But who would blame them -- after being soaked to the skin, and arriving late at work/home because of the traffic jams caused by street blockades.  

Before & after (#1)

But once you get to know Brussels and its hidden charms a little bit better, you will no longer notice its flaws.  What is more -- you'll learn to like them.  

When I was on my way to get lunch, I got caught up in an avalanche of hundreds of trade union protestors -- all of them dressed in bright green and moving towards the destination of their protest.  Since it was pouring, I gently unfolded my bright red umbrella (which was not easy in this crowd, especially since my umbrella is half-broken by wind).  And I thought to myself: how cool is this?!  Here I am with my vividly red umbrella, in this big crowd of bright green people (talking about their protest and drinking beers -- after all, it's a day off).  What a funny sight this must have been from a birds-eye-view :-)  Thank God for the rain and strikes!

Before & after (#2)

Just like today was a typical day -- today's dish could not be more everyday & simple.  What else could you say about spaghetti sauce?  Still, I decided to give the dish a little bit of a twist.  Instead of using the store-bought-jarred-slush-loaded-with-preservatives, I went for a home-made version.

The sauce is made of grilled vegetables -- and has their rich, smoked flavor.  The taste is so much more complex than that of a basic tomato sauce -- yet the various barbecued vegetable flavors complement each other perfectly.  It goes well with every king of pasta, but I prefer good quality fettucine al uovo to spaghetti.  Great idea for a simple everyday meal!

You have to be very quick if you want to take pictures  -- the food disappears in a blink of an eye!

Serves four

  • 1 small eggplant (or 1/2 of a big one)
  • 1 small zucchini (or 1/2 of a big one)
  • 2 peppers (e.g. red and yellow)
  • 2 small red onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small can (100g) of (bio) tomato paste 
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • your favorite pasta (amount for 4 people)
  • a large handful of fresh herbs (preferably basil or parsley) (chopped) 
  • parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Roughly dice all the veggies, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake until completely tender (around 45-60 minutes).
  • Take vegetables out of the baking tray and blend.  You can make a completely smooth sauce -- I prefer when it still has some texture to it.  Add the tomato paste and stir.  Season to taste.
  • Cook pasta, reheat sauce.  Serve sprinkled with fresh herbs and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Buon appetito!

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