12 June 2018

One pan, self-saucing pasta

The principle is simple and is very similar to risotto. Put your pasta into a large pan with some liquid and some flavour then simmer it until the pasta is cooked and the sauce is the right thickness. The thing is, the liquid needs to be more interesting than just water. Mix your water with wine, stock, broth, milk or tomatoes. Or use water plus some big flavoured ingredients like olives, anchovies, mushrooms, tomatoes, spices. You just want to make sure that the total amount of liquid is enough to cook the pasta and be absorbed without leaving a ton of liquid left in the pan. As a rule of thumb, for 4 people I would use 340g pasta and 1175ml liquid (all water plus flavours or 50% water 50% wine/broth/tomatoes).

Don’t forget the most important bit

What is really important is to twiddle with the flavours at the end. The hit of acid from the red wine vinegar is essential. It freshens everything up and rounds out the flavours perfectly. Taste it, add more salt, chili, red wine vinegar and cheese until you get to the point of perfection.

Ingredients (serves 4)

340g [12oz] pasta shapes – either penne or orecchiette. Brown rice pasta works great and is what I use most of the time
1175ml [5 cups] boiling water
1 can chickpeas, drained
around 20 pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or puree)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
a 6 inch sprig of rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
40g [half a cup or 1.5oz] grated Parmesan cheese
60g [2 cups] rocket [arugula]
1 Parmesan rind
red wine vinegar to taste
Optional – a cup of frozen peas or frozen spinach added a few minutes before the pasta is cooked

To make:

1    Combine the pasta, chickpeas, olives, Parmesan rind, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, oil, a pinch of pepper flakes, a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper and 5 cups of water in a large saucepan or Le Creuset.  Put a lid on the pan.

2. Bring to a boil and cook on a medium heat, stirring every 2 minutes until the pasta is al-dente and the liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce. This should take between 12 to 15 minutes depending on the shape and type of pasta you are using.  If, after 10 minutes it is still looking very liquid, take the lid off the pan so that some liquid can evaporate.  If it is drying out too much and the pasta isn’t yet cooked, add a little more water.

3. Remove pan from the heat, discard the rosemary and stir in the grated cheese.

4. Add a little more water until the sauce is loose enough

5. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper and chili. Add red wine vinegar to freshen the flavors then stir through the rocket [arugula]. The heat of the pasta will wilt the rocket

6. Serve immediately with a green salad. If re-heating, you will need to add a little more water as the pasta will continue to soak in the liquid and dry out over time. You can also add a few extra cups of water and make it more soupy.

And finally…you can also try changing up the ingredients to suit you

Then the world is your oyster, you can add veggies, herbs, spices and any protein you fancy, I often get inspiration from risotto flavour combinations. The recipe for below is for a chickpea [garbanzo] pasta  I love it because it is a scrumptious, vegetarian, protein packed dinner and it is done and dusted in less than 15 minutes. Children love it, as the beans cook down to a silky houmus-like sauce so it is creamy like the aforementioned mac and cheese. Feel free to play around with the flavours. If you feel you’d like more greens, add some frozen peas or spinach at the end. Add some shredded chicken at the end if a vegetarian dinner makes you nervous.

Once you’ve tried this recipe, try a tomato version.  Use a combination of passata (pureed tomato) and water with a stem of rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and chili. Then just before serving, stir through some greens (in the photo below I added frozen broad [fava] beans) and cheese.

Written by Gemma @gemcwade 


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