Dinner With The Omnivore

Posts Tagged ‘pasta

Mediterranean weather ....

Lulled into a false sense of security by a week on the Med in 30°C sunshine we stocked up on the old healthy salad options on the last shopping trip and looked forward to vitamin-packed summer-style nosh. Bad move. Our estival eating plans were promptly disrupted by rainfall, plummeting temperatures and snow above 1800m. Not that there’s any real reason why you can’t eat salad under those conditions, but it rather loses its appeal when the rain is hammering down outside and you’re seriously thinking of breaking out the heating again.

Still, having purchased the stuff we dutifully carried on eating it up until yesterday, when it got so parky I was reduced to lurking in a hot bath before hiding in the fleece I’ve been wearing all winter. It’s June, for God’s sake, what’s going on?

I refused to go out and spend more cash on extra food, so we were stuck with whatever was lying around the house, which as usual meant pasta and …….. something. Bit of a challenge, as there’s not much potential for pasta sauce in a load of lettuce and radishes. Apparently other people in this position generally just heat up a tin of tomatoes and stick them all over some spaghetti, but frankly I think salad would still sound more appealing even in the middle of January with a raging blizzard outside.

But fortunately my trusty Sainsbury pocket pasta book came to the rescue. I’ve recommended this tome before and I do so again. (Actually, looking at that post I discover that the weather played exactly the same trick on us last year. Doh.)

....... and spring in the Alps.

Basic tomato sauce

You will need: a can of chopped tomatoes; a carrot; an onion; a clove of garlic.

Chop the onion and garlic, and fry until soft. add the grated carrot, tinned tomatoes and a bit of water. Simmer until the onions and carrot are cooked through, then blitz with a hand blender.

And that’s it, tomato sauce. You can liven it up by using red wine rather than water, adding shredded fresh basil at the last minute, throwing in a handful of lardons or chopped mozzarella ……………. etc. Whatever sounds tasty. It also freezes very well, so you can have a supply of it hanging around for emergencies, and it’s even better with fresh tomatoes so it’s a good way of getting rid of a glut of those, should you find yourself with such a thing.

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Autumn. Very picturesque and all that, but it's still bloody June.

Well, summer came and went in the space of about four days sometime last week, and we find ourselves to all intents and purposes somewhere in the throes of late October. Were it actually autumn, I could be sitting at home in my slippers all day with my feet up drinking tea, which would compensate in some small measure for the Baltic temperatures and incessant rain.

However, since the calendar is under the impression that it is still sometime in June, I have spent the past several days standing at the bottom of a ski lift in rather fewer clothes than everyone else seems to have been issued with, for some reason. Clearly some kind of xenophobic plot if you ask me.

Even the most avid people-watcher would have to admit that there is a limit to the entertainment value to be derived from an endless procession of mud-encrusted mountain bikers, particularly when you’re expending all of your available energy on merely maintaining a viable body temperature. Top tip: if you wish to wring any sort of response out of the frozen cashier-cum-liftie at the bottom of the chairlift, forget the Francophone banter muffled by full face helmet and feed it a cheese sandwich.

Mud - cold and wet. Sorry, but you can keep it, frankly.

The result of all this unseasonally Arctic weather (global warming, innit) is that I have a fridge full of squishy salad ingredients because I absolutely refuse to eat all that healthy fruit and veg rubbish when my core temperature is hovering somewhere around absolute zero. I want lard. FEED ME LARD!!

Fortunately for the waistline, tartiflette takes rather more faff (and expense) than I was prepared for after working all day and then going shopping, so I went for the pasta with sausagemeat and carrot concoction. This is one of our standard winter staples, and is the ultimate cheap ‘n’ easy cold weather comfort food. It comes from a Sainsbury’s pasta cookbook by Patricia Lousada, which I assume is long out of print but is allegedly still available via Amazon marketplace at the thoroughly outrageous price of £8.40. I’d probably recommend biting the bullet and buying it even at that price, because it’s packed with all manner of tasty stuff, from basic student fare through to DIY stuffed fresh pasta, if you can be arsed. Which I really can’t, but it looks good.

Maccheroni con la salsiccia e le carote (Which I take to mean macaroni with sausagemeat and carrots – ever noticed how things sound much tastier in foreign?)

You will need: 225g sausagemeat; 3 grated carrots; 1 onion; can of tomatoes; chicken stock; bay leaf; oregano.

Fry off the onion then add the meat and brown it lightly, breaking it up with a fork. Add the carrot, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and oregano, then simmer for 20 minutes. Top up with water so that there is enough to cook a load of pasta. Add said pasta (of whatever sort – I usually use penne, farfalle or macaroni) and cook until a) al dente and b) the sauce isn’t watery.

Patricia, being a proper cook, has you doing the pasta separately and measuring things properly, but I like a meal which fits into one pan, particularly when I’ve been freezing my tits off at the bottom of a ski lift all day and can’t be bothered with washing up.

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Food for thought

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

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