Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pasta Point of No Return...

Bucatini Asciutti con Bietola, Pancetta, Pomodoro Secco, Pepe, Olive, Pinoli & Pangrattato!
Bucatini with Swiss Chard, Bacon, Sun-Dried Tomato, Peppers, Olives, Pine-Nuts and Breadcrumbs!

Quite frankly, I don't know WHAT happened since I went away for Christmas... maybe a power-cut? An alien invasion that took our meat rations and made them go off whilst we were sleeping? Well in any case, it is a strange but true fact, that I defrosted a batch of ground meat yesterday that I had frozen and did the same today with a thigh of chicken- and both times the meat just did not smell right. I wasn't going to risk eating tainted food, so reluctantly I said my goodbyes to it... along with the meals I had being planning to make. Emergency! What to do? In any case- not panic! There is always something wonderful that can be created out of even the most simple of ingredients... so that is what I did!

Always happy to improvise, I decided to use the last handful of Bucatini I had sitting around- many of which were the broken half-length pieces. So I snapped the other pieces too and made them all the same length- noticing immediately the other added benefit, apart from the fact that they would be easier to eat they would now also fit into the saucepan easier!

I had 7-8 minutes time until the pasta would be almost done, and in this time, I chopped up
2 leaves of Swiss chard and one of those mild, pointy red peppers. I fried these in a dry non-stick pan with some chopped bacon- starting with the stalks of the chard and adding the leaves 3-4 minutes later. I added garlic, a finely chopped shallot and a handful of pitted and halved black olives.

Once I had added the leaves, I seasoned generously with grated nutmeg, pepper and a little Tabasco and then added a little olive oil. Next thing I did was to drain the pasta and add it to the vegetables in the frying pan, making sure to retain a little of the water. Whilst the pasta continued to cook it also took on all of the flavors of the other ingredients. I let the pasta simmer away and in the meantime toasted first of all a handful of pine nuts and then after removing them so that they could cool down and then set about making a little "Pangrattato" or toasted breadcrumbs, to sprinkle over the Bucatini in the next step. The ingredients for this are breadcrumbs, finely chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, salt, pepper and a little nutmeg.

By now, the pasta should be nicely cooked and ready for those breadcrumbs and pine nuts and a last grind of fresh pepper or chili flakes- for a glass of wine... and for a pat on the back for having made the most of a potentially difficult situation! So- if I could manage to make something special today and you have enjoyed reading about it- pick up your apron, get into the kitchen and have at it! I am sure that you can do it too!

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