Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Summer Fazool!

Insalata di Pasta, Fagiolina & Ciliegini
One-Pot Cherry Tomato, String-Bean & Pasta Salad

There is something great about those "one pot" meals... actually there a couple of good things! Not only does it mean that you have less washing-up to do... but also that all of the flavors are captured and reduced down, becoming richer and tastier too! Like I said... there are a couple of good reasons to cook this way!

The thing is, that usually when we think of a one-pot meal, we think of a soup or stew or something along those lines. We don't usually think of lighter cuisine or of Summer dishes... but this evening, as you can all see... I did :-)

I based this dish on one of my favorite methods for cooking green beans... in fact, this is the exact same method for the exact same beans... just with pasta added!

To make it I needed 1 1/2 handfuls of pasta and 3 handfuls of string beans- you always want to have twice as many beans, as the pasta will at least double in size. Apart from that, I needed a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, a clove of garlic, a shallot and a little fresh parsley... so it is not only quick and easy, but also pretty cheap!

The great thing here is that the prep-work is really simple- top and tail the beans and cut them in half, peel and squash 1 clove of garlic, peel and halve 1 shallot, bring your water to the boil, add salt and then the pasta, beans, tomatoes, onion and garlic all together... basically that's it!

The pasta I used was Fusilli, but you can basically use any pasta you may prefer, although I would personally stick with a short type of pasta shape rather than say spaghetti, linguini or such-likes... but that's just me :-)

About 10 minutes later, the pasta was cooked, the tomatoes were tender and their skins had split, the shallot was tender and craving attention and the little clove of garlic was also soft and ready to be taken care of too!

So, of course the next thing to do was to remove the shallot and the garlic, as they were going to add all of the real flavor to our simple little pasta dish... and how!

And yes, you guessed it- the way that I prepared them for adding to the finished dish was
very, very complicated... haha! I simply crushed them down using a fork! No need to fuss here, no airs and graces- just a little bit of effort and before you know it, you will have a rich and tasty base-flavor to build on

Next came the little cherry tomatoes, whose skins had burst and were easy to pick away... and so pick away was exactly I did! Here is the evidence!

I am not usually fussy about the tomato peel being part of a dish... but in this case, with everything so convenient, away they went, leaving the tomatoes naked and delicious and ready to go!

All that needed to be done now was to gently stir all of these ingredients together, with some extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and a nice, generous pinch of finely chopped parsley. You may also like to add either a small splash of vinegar or a little freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to give the dressing a slight bit of "tang"... but otherwise that is it! You are finished, your pasta is finished and your supper is ready to be enjoyed!

One other nice thing about this dish is that it tastes equally good, whether served hot, lukewarm or cold from the fridge... the choice is yours! And the washing-up, as I already mentioned, will be finished in next to no time at all... which is one final reason why you will absolutely love this one-pot wonder!  

You may want to give this a try next time you think of making a pasta salad and give those stodgy mayonnaise-heavy dishes a miss! This is lighter, easier and simply much, much nicer! And I am pretty sure you are going to love it! 

Buon appetito!

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