Welcome to post number 2 in my "3 Dinners" series. This week's theme is pasta! Quick, versatile, economical. All boxes ticked!
Pappardelle with Zucchini, Sultanas and Pine Nuts
This pasta dish, from Nigella's Forever Summer, is one of my staple dinners. It's exceedingly simple, if a little time consuming, as it takes 45 minutes for the zucchini to cook down to the requisite mushiness. You don't need to stand there stirring it the whole time, but I don't like to leave a pot on the stove unsupervised, so I'd stay in the kitchen, checking my email or cleaning up or whatever.
Just slowly cook some sliced zucchini and garlic in a bit of oil, until soft and mushy, then add marsala-soaked sultanas and toasted pine nuts. Toss the whole lot through cooked pappardelle with some parmesan and parsley. Ta-dah! I used Passion Pasta's wholemeal spelt pappardelle, which was toothsome and satisfying, but not heavy. Nigella was right - 250g of pappardelle does seem like a small amount, but it was enough for a light meal for 4 people.
Spaghetti with Bacon, Garlic and Parsley
spaghetti aglio olio, another favourite of mine, and I pretty much always have the ingredients for it on hand. I keep bacon in the freezer, a parsley plant in the garden, parmesan cheese in the fridge, and pasta in the pantry. Making this pasta is simply a matter of frying bacon pieces and garlic in olive oil, then tossing through the cooked spaghetti, parmesan cheese and parsley. I see in this photo I used a mixture of regular spaghetti and the remnants of a packet of spelt spaghetti, but whatever spaghetti you prefer would do the job.
Mini-Penne Rigate mit Sahne, Erbsen und Schinken
I love these little mini-penne rigate! How cute are they? I must admit I was drawn to the German writing on the back of the packet. It came with a recipe (in German) for mini-penne rigate with parmigiano reggiano sauce and ham. As far as my abysmal command of the German language would allow me, I figured out that the sauce is made from cooking milk with cheese, which you then add to the cooked pasta, with some chopped herbs and cooked peas. I tried it a few weeks ago, but wasn't too impressed. Some weeks later, however, I found success with a similar recipe in Nigella's Feast. Nigella's pasta is a lot more simple; her "pasta with ham, peas and cream" is just that. Cooked and ready to go in less than 10 minutes, and wonderfully tasty.
As a bonus, making this recipe enabled me to use up a half-finished tub of cream I had in the fridge, which surely would have died a mouldy death, had this recipe not saved it.