Three Dishes For The Dead Of Winter

by Danielle Del Vicario

Don’t get me wrong, I love winter—even slushy, brown muddy winters—and I especially love winter food. There’s nothing better than coming in from a frigid day skiing or hiking, uncurling your stiff fingers, initiating that familiarly painful tingle and slapping together a five-minute meal so warming it could melt even the Grinch’s heart. I’m talking gooey, melted cheese as a midday pick-me-up; rich tomato pasta to carb up after a long day outside; or perfectly tomato-poached eggs for times when your thin-walled student house feels like a warehouse freezer.

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Quickest oven-roasted tomato sauce

The fifth child in a loud, hungry Italian family, I’m a self-confessed pasta snob—to the extent that my best friend got me a pasta-roller for my birthday. The butter in this recipe gives it a rich depth without the addition of any meat. You may eventually forgo even the pasta, digging straight into the sauce with a spoon.

  1. Combine one can of whole or chopped tomatoes (plus ¼ tsp salt if the tomatoes aren’t already salted), a heaping spoonful of butter, three to four chopped garlic cloves and a pinch of chili flakes in a nine by nine inch pan. (If you like, line the pan with parchment paper to save time doing dishes later on.)
  2. Bake at 375ºF for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes have turned a rich, dark red.
  3. The sauce is best served with orzo or a long pasta like linguine.

Open-faced apple goat’s cheese melt

  1. Toast two slices of your favourite bread.
  2. Meanwhile microwave one clove minced garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil for 20 to 30 seconds before brushing over the bread.
  3. Top each slice with a thinly sliced apple and goat`s cheese and broil on high until the apple is softened and cheese warm and melty.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic reduction to finish.

Rellie`s cheesy shatshuka

Technically, shatshuka is a North African egg dish flavoured with cumin and hot peppers. However, a vegetarian housemate introduced me to it as decadent tomato-poached eggs covered in melted cheddar and eaten curled in front of a laptop trying desperately to finish your PhD applications. However you spice—or cheese—it up, poaching eggs in tomato sauce produces a McGonagall-worthy transfiguration, making your morning (or afternoon or evening) eggs into thick, flavoursome promises of ultimate student comfort.

  1. In a medium saucepan, brown one chopped onion and one chopped garlic clove in a splash of olive oil. Add one can of chopped tomatoes and let boil for two to three minutes. Alternatively, you can use leftover pasta sauce sitting in your fridge—the one above works well, that is if you have leftovers.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and gently crack two to four eggs on the surface of the tomato sauce.
  3. Cover the saucepan and let cook for about ten minutes, until there is no runny white on top and the yolks are at desired level of doneness. A gentle finger poke serves as a reliable measure.
  4. Eat immediately, sopping up any extras with good, crusty bread.