Macaroncelli with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Halloumi-Mint pesto

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This dish screams summer. The aroma of fresh mint is enough to cool a hot summer’s day. Or at least feel like it’s a bit cooler.

IMG_8583This recipe is fantastic to make as part of a family meal or to feed a crowd. It’s very easy and fairly quick to prepare. The combination of flavours is absolutely delicious. Halloumi and mint is a match made in culinary heaven. The roasted cherry tomatoes add so much sweetness and amazing flavour plus just the right amount of acidity you need to balance the saltiness of the halloumi. I used “Mitsides” macaroncelli as I love this pasta. Slightly thicker than spaghetti with a hole in the middle, just big enough to make a whistling noise as you slurp them into your mouth.

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For the cherry tomatoes

  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pesto

  • ½ cup packed parsley leaves
  • ½ cup packed mint leaves
  • ¼ cup raw almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup halloumi, grated
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta

  • 500 grams “Mitsides” Macaroncelli pasta
  • ½ cup grated halloumi plus extra to serve
  • ¼ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 Tbs toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mint leaves to garnish

Method

Preheat oven to 175 C. Put halved cherry tomatoes in a baking pan, cut side up. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes for 35-40 minutes until soft. Set aside until needed.

Make pesto while tomatoes bake. In a bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, put the parsley, mint, almonds and garlic. Blend until finely ground. Add halloumi, lemon juice. Pulse briefly to mix and season with salt and pepper. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream, until emulsified. You will end up with a pesto that’s kind of thick.

To finish the dish, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season water generously with salt. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until cooked al-dente. Drain, but keep about 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

Return drained pasta back to the pot. Mix in the pesto, halloumi, chilli flakes and and one cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Mix well until pesto is evenly distributed. If pasta seems too thick, add a few more tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid until it reaches the desired creaminess without being watery. Taste the pasta for salt and pepper and adjust.

Add the roasted tomatoes and their pan drippings to the pasta. Mix briefly. Transfer pasta on a serving platter. Garnish with the pine nuts and mint leaves. Serve at once with more grated halloumi on the side.

 

 

 

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