I was fortunate enough to be in Rome last month on holiday, or rather, on pilgrimage to the Vatican City and to the art of Michelangelo Buonarotti. But of course, in addition to all the sightseeing, I made time to have a taste of whatever dishes that might be unique to the region. Being in the land of pasta, Pasta Amatriciana is one of them. According to Wikipedia, ‘Amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese and tomato, well-known in Roman and Italian cuisine.’
So very basically, I gave it a go with bacon, red onions, tomatoes and Parmesan. Also, I had it with mushroom tortellini as opposed to the usual bucatini.
- Set your pasta boiling away in a pot of salty water.
- With the help of a teaspoon of oil in a hot skillet, render the fat of the bacon out.
- Toss in the minced onions, and sweat it out till almost translucent.
- Add in the tomatoes, together with some passata. Or just add in some chopped tomatoes from a store-bought carton. Add volume to the sauce with pasta-cooking water, if necessary.
- Stir in a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce.
- Mix and serve with a grating of more Parmesan.
There’s something about asparagus and pork that’s very pleasant; remember how it’s lovely with bacon? (King’s Asparagus, Asparagus & Bacon Penne)
Inspired by Aglio Olio and the lovely pork and asparagus combination, here’s a quick spaghetti dish to whip up that’s sure to satisfy your craving for that saltish non-slurpy pasta.
- 1 portion quick cook spaghetti
- 2 pork sausages, skinned
- 6 stalks asparagus
- 1/4 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 chilli, finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 handful fresh arugula
- 1 pinch dried basil
- 1 pinch dried oregano
- sea salt, freshly ground
- black pepper, freshly ground
- olive oil
- fresh Parmesan
- As always, first get your spaghetti into a pot of boiling water.
- Drizzle the wok with a little bit of olive oil, and toss in the sausages. Make sure the skin’s removed. Let it sizzle for a bit, so the fat gets rendered out.
- Then, in goes the garlic, fried till golden.
- Toss in the peppers and asparagus.
- Add the herbs and seasoning now, then stir about till the veggies are done. (Personally, I like my peppers and asparagus is little overdone, if you can get them be slightly charred, even better. The minute tang of bitterness will go a long way.)
- Your spaghetti should be about done now, if not already done. Drain and add to the wok.
- Mix everything together thoroughly.
- Dish it out onto a pretty plate, with a generous pinch of arugula atop.
- Using a speed peeler, strip a more than a couple of slices of Parmesan on.
- Drizzle a round of olive oil and serve. To yourself, of course.
Don’t be like me and leave it in the hot oven after it’s done, thinking it would ‘keep warm’ that way. It got way overdone.
Anyway, using this pizza dough recipe, this is what goes on top:
- Thin slices of asparagus
- Slices of white mushrooms
- Shaved Parmesan
- Lemon Mayonnaise*
*This can be bought off the shelf, but I prefer making my own. Squeeze lemon juice into some mayonnaise; enough so that there is a refreshing zest of lemon goodness but not so much so it becomes a sour mess. Top the pizza with this after it’s been baked, using a squeezey bottle. If you don’t have one, use a ziplock bag, with a small corner snipped off. Have a good time making lovely patterns. Have a better time eating this pizza.
I’ve posted this recipe before, and we’re all pretty familiar with Aglio Olio and how it tastes. Yesterday, for a friend’s housewarming party, I made some with fusilli, as opposed to the conventional spaghetti. I guess the key really is about garlic-olive oil mixture and getting it right. Once you’ve got the seasoning right, any pasta works in this crowd-pleaser.
Here’s what makes up that awesome garlic flavour:
- garlic, minced
- red chilli, minced
- basil leaves, minced
- dried basil leaves
- dried oregano leaves
- fresh parsley, minced
- freshly ground black pepper
- crushed sea salt
- olive oil
- shaved parmesan
A winner. (:
Bolognese Brilliance: no serious slurping, no mess, just awesome food.
Building on from Springy Bolognese, I’ve decided to list some numbers and ingredients for this massively easy pasta dish. Its hearty and satisfying; perfect for that one time when you’re feeling incredibly hungry. Hurhur.
The brilliant thing about bolognese is that there’s no hard and fast rule about what goes inside. To me, it’s like Chinese Fried Rice; you add whatever tickles your fancy. Personally, I aim for ‘colourful’.
So here’s what I had in mine this time. Extremely extravagant.
- 1 third of pasta from a standard size quick cook spaghetti pack
- 1 handful of chopped red pepper
- 1 handful of chopped yellow pepper
- 1 handful of peas, frozen works the same
- 1 handful of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 white onions, minced
- 1 third of a finger chilli, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 thumb-sized knob of butter
- 50g of double concentrate tomato puree
- half tbsp of dried basil
- 1 handful of finely grated cheddar (if you have parmesan, even better)
- 1 handful of fresh rocket (optional)
- 1 handful of beef minced (omit this is you’re vegetarian)
With all the ingredients ready, what you’re going for now is efficiency and speed. No mucking about. You’re hungry, and if you’re not about getting angry yet, your stomach is. A hungry man is an angry man. Whatever.
This is how to roll:
- Since we’re going for speed, quick-cook pasta is the key choice here. Get that in a pot of boiling water and let it work its magic. If you believe in the Italian saying that ”the water for pasta cooking should be as salty as the Mediterranean”, then go right ahead and salt that water.
- While that’s happening, get another pot/wok on the hob too. If your peas are frozen, get them straight in, together with that knob of butter. If not, get everything you want in your bolognese e.g. onions, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, etc. and dump them in. Let them fry about while you wash up your chopping board and knife, and welcome the Aroma Fairies.
- When they (the ingredients, not fairies) are just about done, in goes the minced beef. Toss.
- Then, tomato puree goes in too. Here’s a tip. Instead of using plain water to dilute your sauce, get some of that starchy pasta water, about half a cup full and pour it into the sauce. Happy days.
- Mix about before adding the dried basil. Mix some more and taste. Season with salt and pepper your liking. Turn the heat off.
- Your pasta should be done, so drain the water out and get it straight into your superb bolognese sauce. Toss about, coating every strand of that spaghetti in red goodness. Move all to a serving dish.
- Top with fresh rocket leaves. Then, grate your cheese straight onto everything.
I slept in today and was inexplicably lazy to get food. This was sort of a suggestion from a friend this morning, and it came at the perfect time.
It’s a segment off Nigella Bites, so watch it here, from 0:45 onwards. Saves me the trouble of attempting to transcribe the goddess’ every word.
Here’s about what you’ll need:
- a single serving of long pasta, depending on how much you can slurp at a go
- two egg yolks
- 70g of parmesan, or as much as you want
- 100ml of cream, or just enough to make the sauce perfectly creamy
- zest of half a lemon
- juice of half a lemon
- 50g of butter
I made a few changes and came up with this; I can’t do without my meat. Plus, the peas added a lovely burst of sweetness in every bite. (;
Remember Pasta Promotion?
Well, I am now proud to present to you, Pasta Evolution.
So what is it?
It’s Aglio Olio made with Chicken Oil
Yes, it’s exactly the same as your usual dry parmesan, garlic, basil, oregano and parsley spaghetti, except that you use the oil rendered from Very Succulent Braised Chicken Portions instead of olive oil.
Try it now or regret forever.
When I was away in Greece for eleven days, someone had to look after my plant. Yes, it’s just ONE plant and his name’s Mr Coriander. So I got Joanna to look after him for me. She did a swell job and I wanted to thank her. And what better way was there than to cook for her. This eventually led to a Sunday dinner with five other people, and this was the menu for the night:
Mini Yorkies with Beef Gravy
Apple Crumble (Courtesy of Joanna & Gang)
I’m not gonna feature the entire dinner here but instead, I want to highlight the Aglio Olio which happened to be quite a hit for the night. Thank goodness I did a trial run in the afternoon prior to the dinner:
Simplest of recipes and extremely fun too: garlic, parsley, dried chillies, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil and parmesan. Everything goes into a saucepan, together with spaghetti cooked until al dente.
Try it today! (: