KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 - Is there a phrase more dreadful than "item on offer”?

Surely I must be joking, you say - isn’t it better to enjoy a discount, to get more of something for less? Indeed that is the idea, certainly.

Yet when I come back to our hotel room with a humongous basketful of strawberries from the farmer’s market with barely enough time to gorge on them all before checkout, it looks decidedly unlike a real deal.

And so it is with my regular visits to the supermarkets and pasar pagi; who can resist the temptation of fresh produce on offer. Get more for less.

Except what we get more of – more often than not – is more food wastage if the produce ripens and spoils before we can get to them all.

Sometimes freezing helps. Take bananas for instance; I usually eat one or two fresh and the rest are peeled and kept frozen in a container for later use in smoothies and yoghurt bowls.

Another approach is to ferment the produce - homemade kimchi and sauerkraut, anyone?

Don’t waste a surplus of ripe cherry tomatoes!
Don’t waste a surplus of ripe cherry tomatoes!

But my preferred method of dealing with a surfeit of fresh vegetables is to cook them, typically by roasting. This is my go-to technique with extra punnets of cherry tomatoes that are ripe and approaching past their prime.

Once they have been roasted - tossed briefly in olive oil and with plenty of garlic; a generous dusting of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, and we’re done! - they can be kept in sterilised glass jars and topped up with more olive oil to keep them fridge safe for weeks.

Fresh garlic adds plenty of aromatic notes.
Fresh garlic adds plenty of aromatic notes.

Then it’s only a matter of spooning some out to add to a soup or a stir fry, or my favourite way of enjoying them - in a simple, no frills pasta that is packed full of flavour.

Finally, the secret to buying more for less - a tasty dish that proves less is more.

ROASTED TOMATO & GARLIC FUSILLI

Roasting cherry tomatoes are always better with the ripe variety; unripe tomatoes can be employed fresh in salads, such as a som tam mamuang (green mango salad), or pickled as a relish or sandwich stuffer.

Could you roast the tomatoes without the garlic? Certainly you may but the flavour would be thinner, I’m afraid. If you eschew garlic you might try offsetting the loss of aromatics with herbs such as rosemary (added together during roasting) or fresh basil (added afterwards and allowed to wilt in the residual heat).

There aren’t many ingredients here. For the remainder: use good extra virgin olive oil (despite what you might have read, this can be used for roasting, not only as salad dressing) and your favourite pasta.

'Fusilli' is a shape of pasta that is formed into corkscrews.
'Fusilli' is a shape of pasta that is formed into corkscrews.

As for the latter, my own favourite for straightforward, no frou-frou pastas like this would be the fusilli, a shape of pasta that is formed into corkscrews. The twirls provide plenty of crooks and crannies to hold the flavourful roasted tomato juices and garlic oils.

Ingredients

1 punnet (approx. 10-12) cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves and sliced

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

150g dried fusilli (approx. 2 servings)

1.5 litres water

Salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Prepare a large baking tray by covering it with aluminium foil. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Mix well, making sure to coat everything evenly. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.

Roast the cherry tomatoes and garlic together in a single tray.
Roast the cherry tomatoes and garlic together in a single tray.

Roast the tomatoes and garlic in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until tomatoes are wilted and wrinkly, and the garlic have turned a golden brown and crispy at the edges.

The twirls of the pasta hold the flavourful roasted tomato juices and garlic oils.
The twirls of the pasta hold the flavourful roasted tomato juices and garlic oils.

Meanwhile, boil the fusilli pasta in a large pot of generously salted water according to package directions (the time for al dente will differ according to the brand so don’t throw away the package before reading it).

Once cooked to directions, drain the water. Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic directly into the pot with the pasta. Toss evenly. Transfer to individual plates and serve immediately.

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