Friday, 16 December 2011

Comfort and Joy

Pasta al Forno con Macinato di Manzo, Avocado + Pomodorini
Avocado, Ground Beef & Tomato Pasta Bake

Maybe it was cold outside, maybe it was just thrown together from my last few provisions before I leave for Sicily in a couple of days- but there was plenty of comfort in this simple supper, even though it would have been a joy to have shared it on this Winter's night! That is the Sicilian way- no matter how humble or how little, if a friend turns up, you offer what you have. All I have for you dear reader, are my photos and instructions... but I am more than happy to share those with you now...

I had an avocado, 3 cherry tomatoes and 2 of those left over mini- meatballs, uncooked,  from the other night. I figured, with a couple of handfuls of pasta, a little salted ricotta and some milk, I could make that into a meal... and boy, did I ever!

I put the pasta on to boil and crumbled the fennel seed meatballs into a dry frying pan and began to fry them. Once the meat was done, but not browned, I removed it and added finely chopped carrot, celery and garlic, sautéed them for 2-3 minutes to get them started and added half of the avocado, finely diced. I let that all sizzle away for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, so that the avocado began to lose its consistency and began to soak up the juices from the meat. This meant that I had a lot of wonderful flavors accumulating in that frying pan which I did not want to lose! So I added a little white wine and stirred it in well, which caused the avocado to begin to dissolve into a thick paste. I added milk, nutmeg, salt, pepper and Tabasco and kept on stirring, turning everything into a smooth, creamy sauce.

By now pasta was finished, so I drained it off and added it to the avocado sauce and mixed it in well. I filled my baking dish with the pasta- you can add as much sauce as you prefer, but I like my pasta to crisp up a little in the oven and so did not add so much. I then spread out the ground meat, the other half of the avocado in slices and the cherry tomatoes in halves.

I sprinkled the avocado and tomatoes with a little salt, ground chili flakes and a hint of lime juice, drizzled them very lightly with olive oil and then grated salted ricotta cheese over everything. Again- it is a matter of preference and I personally do not like lots of melted cheese on my pasta- but for sure you could add more cheese and more sauce and that would be equally delicious. I just think that sometimes less is more...

Into the oven it went for 20 minutes at a moderate heat- everything was warm and pre-cooked, so really it is just to bring everything up to temperature and for the flavors to combine a little better... and for you to set the table and pour some wine... and get ready to enjoy this delicious supper! Comfort food and a joy indeed!

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