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Archive for pasta
shortest webern piece
400g wholewheat penne
360g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
ground black pepper
110g honey-cured roast ham, torn into strips
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Boil the pasta in a large pan of water for around 10-12 minutes until al dente.
Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Put the tomatoes cut side up into a shallow roasting tin. Drizzle with oil and season. Grill for 7-10 minutes until they start to shrivel.
Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Fold in the tomatoes and ham. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and serve.
This excellent recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s new book Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home.
Of course her finger-licking fridge-raiding foxy flirt TV persona is a wicked self-parody more outrageous than anything an impressionist could achieve, although Ronni Ancona comes close. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t find her extremely attractive, and the same could be said for many bloggers (male and female) I have contacted.
But look beyond that and what you have is a very fine food writer. Her books are well worth reading. So here she is with one of my old favourites, pasta and pesto:
Children – who are perhaps more honest about their tastes than the rest of us – seem to have an overweening preference for carbohydrates, and I am more than happy to exploit this. If I’ve been working late, am feeling lazy, have forgotten to go shopping or suddenly find out that their friends are staying over and I don’t know what they will or won’t eat, I reach gratefully for a packet of pasta.
I can honestly say I don’t know how parents managed to feed their children in the days before pasta became universal culinary currency. Oh, yes I do, actually: they didn’t care whether we liked what they cooked or not; we just ate what we were given.
My children wouldn’t care if all I ever gave them was pasta with some bottled sauce poured over, and I don’t deny that’s sometimes indeed what they are given; but to please myself, and them, this is what I make when I get it together a little. Making this is hardly effortful; the potatoes cook in the pasta water – requiring a little extra time, nothing more – and the pinenutless pesto is whizzed up easily by the processor.
And if you’re going to do this recipe, then do make the pesto yourself. Using pesto out of a jar is nothing I’d ever apologise for, but this is a dish in itself and needs to be kept distinct. For those who feel cooking potatoes with pasta is playing too much into the hands of kiddie carbomania, know that this is a Ligurian tradition. And it really works: the potatoes thicken into a sweet sludge to which the pesto adheres, to make a fantastically, elegantly comforting and fragrant strand-coating sauce. The green beans add to the verdigloriousness of the whole, making you feel good that you are getting the children to eat vegetables. That said, I remain quite adamant that there is no such thing as ‘children’s food’, that food is food and that’s that; this makes a perfect supper for grown-up company, too, and certainly earns a place in my Last Meal menu.
500g large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm slices, each slice quartered into chunks
500g linguine pasta
200g fine green beans, trimmed and cut in half
For the pesto:
100g basil leaves (2 fat bunches from the greengrocer, or 4 supermarket packets)
100g grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled
100ml regular olive oil
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Put the prepared potato chunks into a large saucepan with enough salted water to take the pasta later, and bring to the boil.
Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes, then add the pasta. Check the packet cooking instructions, and at about 4 minutes before the end of the specified cooking time, add the green beans. If you are using artisanal egg linguine, which takes less time, you will need to alter your strategy.
While this is bubbling away, whiz the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor.
Before you drain the saucepan, remove and reserve about ½ cupful of the cooking liquid.
Tip the drained potatoes, beans and pasta back into the dry pan.
Add the pesto from the processor and enough cooking water to give a runny sauce that coats the strands of pasta as you work it through with a fork or pasta claw. Serve immediately.
Do you have a passion for pesto? What’s your favourite pesto recipe, and is there any better way to eat it than with linguine and green beans?
Energetic Italian grannies make their pesto by hand in a marble mortar, adding the basil leaves one by one. The result is the silkiest, smoothest pesto imaginable. Modern granddaughters are more likely to reach for the food processor, and the result is almost as good.
4 packs basil, or 1 large basil plant, leaves only
25g pine kernels
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp granular sea salt
50g freshly grated Parmesan
100-200ml extra virgin olive oil
Wash and dry the basil leaves. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the pine kernels lightly for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
If you’re using a mortar, pound the garlic with the salt to make a soft mush. Pound in the pine nuts, then work in the basil leaves, 2-3 at a time, with a circular movement of the pestle, until all is reduced to a silky paste. (The mixture can be frozen at this point). Work in the cheese, then beat in the olive oil with a wooden spoon until you have a thick, dense sauce. Add more or less oil depending on the texture you like.
If you’re using a processor, drop all the ingredients in and blitz to a luscious green sauce.
To serve, cook the pasta of your choice according to packet instructions. Ligurian cooks put a few small cubes of potato to cook with the pasta because the starch improves the sticking power of the pesto. Before dressing the pasta, dilute the pesto with a tablespoonful of pasta cooking water.
To store the pesto, pour into a jar, float a layer of olive oil on top, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.
400g penne pasta
2 courgettes, chopped
250g light soft cream cheese
200g cooked and peeled prawns
grated rind of 1 lemon
ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Boil the pasta and courgettes in a large pan of water for 10-12 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, put the soft cheese in a small pan and add 3 tbsp of water. Stir over a low heat until the cheese has melted.
Add the prawns to the cheese sauce and gently heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon rind and season.
Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Gently stir through the prawn sauce and serve immediately. Top with a sprinkle of chives.
The UK cuttlefish season has come to an end and I would imagine less than 5 per cent of the catch is actually consumed in the UK, if that. For a nation that eats a fair bit of squid, we are still rather nervous about cuttlefish; maybe it’s the thought of that dried vertebrae in budgie cages that puts people off. Oh, and get your fishmonger to clean the cuttlefish for you, as it can be a messy job.
4 servings of garganelli pasta, or similar
1 small onion, peeled, halved, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 tbsp olive oil
100ml white wine
250ml fish stock
150g unsalted butter
400-500g cuttlefish (cleaned weight), cut into thin strips
150g cooked peas
a handful of pea shoots, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Gently cook the onion and garlic in the butter for 2-3 minutes until soft, then add the white wine and simmer until it’s almost evaporated, then add the fish stock and reduce by half. Season the cuttlefish, melt a little of the butter in a frying pan until foaming and quickly fry the pieces of cuttlefish for about a minute, stirring every so often (you may need to cook it in a couple of batches). Chop over the peas a little and add to the sauce with the cuttlefish and stir in the rest of the butter.
A big stock-up, on various essentials. I’ve bought more than ten bags of various pulses, a similar amount of pasta, rice, lots of frozen goods. I shall not be hungry for a little while, anyway.
Also, I will be making cookies (of the American variety) later tonight.
Is there anything in life more satisfying than making homemade stock?
2 celery sticks
1 chicken carcase
a pinch of salt
a few peppercorns
2-3 pints water
whatever herbs are to hand
You feel like a culinary God and you barely need to bother chopping anything.