Roast Tomato, Rocket & Mascarpone Pasta with pesto and mozzarella focaccia
This is a hearty pasta dish with added freshness thanks to the addition of peppery rocket leaves and juicy vine tomatoes. The Italian-style bread can work well as a stand-alone starter thanks to the punchy flavours of the pesto and creamy mozzarella, but it’s also pretty great for mopping up pasta sauce, just like this one.
For the pasta
- 600g small vine tomatoes halved
- 2 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 400g penne
- 150g mascarpone
- 2 handfuls of rocket leaves
- Vegetarian parmesan shavings to serve
For the focaccia
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 1 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast acting yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus some for drizzling
- 125g mozzarella
- 5 tbsp pesto
- Sea salt for the top
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6). Put the tomatoes in a roasting tray with the garlic and rosemary. Season well and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water until al dente (this will take around 10 minutes). Drain, and return it to the pan.
- Once the tomatoes are cooked, mix in the mascarpone to make a creamy sauce and add to the pasta. Toss well, then stir in the rocket leaves. Serve topped with the parmesan shavings.
- Put the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt. Mix the yeast into 325 ml tepid water. Add this and the oil to the flour, then mix well with your hands. Incorporate all the liquid and bring it together into a ball of dough.
- Tip the dough out onto a worktop lightly dusted with flour and knead it for at least 10 minutes. Put the ball
of dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover it with a little more oil and a tea towel. Leave it to prove for an hour or so in a warm spot, until it’s doubled in size.
- Now stretch the dough out onto an oiled baking tin until it’s about 20 x 30 cm. Leave the dough to rise again in the warm, about 30-40 mins, covered loosely with a tea towel.
- Heat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). When the dough has risen, press your fingers into it gently to make some indentations. Bake for 15 minutes then remove it from the oven and scatter over chunks of mozzarella. Bake it for a further 5 or 10 minutes until golden and cooked through. Drizzle over the pesto and scatter the bread with sea salt. For that wow factor, serve warm from the oven.