Pasta is a quick and easy dish in our house. For a sauce I usually start off making a base of pancetta, onions and pepper in a frying pan. Start off by cooking the pancetta until browning and then add the onions and peppers. When the onions and pepper are softened add sliced mushrooms. As the mushrooms cook add some spinach.
This is the base for a variety of pasta sauces.
Add to freshly cooked pasta with pesto for pesto pasta.
Add a tin of chopped tomatoes (or a carton of passata) for a tomato sauce.
For a creamy sauce, I usually stir in a jar of crème fraîche. I always try and use a quality crème fraîche rather than the standard supermarket own brand.
Add parmesan to taste.
I sometimes cook some mushroom separately and add those as an addition to the pasta.
The other week I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Mustard Seed Restaurant in Inverness. For my starter I had had the crayfish and salmon salad. For my main course I had the pan fried rump steak served with roasted fine diced black pudding and potatoes with parsley and garlic crème fraîche.
This was really really nice.
The steak was a rump steak, and I have found at many restaurants that rump steak can be quite tough, this one though was cooked to perfection and was very tender. I did ask for it to be cooked medium rare and I think that helped. The black pudding and potatoes were done well and really enhanced the steak. It was all complemented with the parsley and garlic crème fraîche, which had a subtle garlic flavour and the freshness worked well in opposition to the strong spiced flavour of the black pudding. Across those flavours you could still certainly taste the flavour of the beef.
Overall a really nice combination of ingredients, that was cooked well and was as a result delicious.
Though I eat pasta a fair bit, I do like to try different things, though more often then not it is a variation on a theme as is the case with this dish.
I cooked the steak in a hot pan, generally in the same way I cook any steak. Hot pan, no oil in the pan, but oil the steak with a good olive oil and season with black pepper (but no salt, as the pancetta used later has more than enough salt to season the dish).
I cook the steak and leave to rest.
While the steak is cooking, cook the pasta of your choice, I used a specialty air dried pasta from the Taste the Difference range from Sainsburys.
After removing the steak from the pan, add some diced onion and pancetta. When the onion has softened and the pancetta cooked, add some button mushrooms. When the mushrooms have cooked add some freshly chopped parsley, a few spoonfuls of creme frache and the steak which should be sliced.
Place the pasta on the plate and spoon the steak and sauce onto the top of the pasta.
I do like a nice pasta salad, especially as it can be eaten instead of bread and adds some substance to a salad based meal.
The problem I have with some you can buy is that they are either too salty or too wet! So where possible I try and make my own.
This is a very simple recipe and you can adjust quantities to taste, how much you want, how much you have in the fridge.
Cook some pasta.
You can use any pasta, but have been using and prefer De Cecco’s Fusilli.
While the pasta is cooking, in a frying pan add some olive oil and then add onions and red pepper. After that has cooked for a while add some mushrooms.
Ensure that they are cooked through, add some freshly chopped parsley and turn off the heat.
Now you could add the pepper and mushrooms raw, but I prefer to have them cooked.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and then to stop it cooking further and to cool it down rinse well with cold water.
Put the cooked pasta in a bowl, add a splash of olive oil for flavour and to stop it sticking. Note always add oil to cooked and drained pasta to stop it sticking. Adding it the boiling water does not do this as the oil floats on the top of the water.
To the cooked pasta add some mayonnaise and some creme frache.
Then add the cooked mixture.
Stir with a spoon until the rice and cooked mixture is evenly coated. As with a lot of salads though you could serve this straight away, it will improve if you leave it in the fridge for a few hours.
In a frying pan cook off some pancetta bacon, remove from the pan. Cook the chicken, I usually use chicken thigh (bonless and skinless) cut into a size which is about the same as the pasta I am using. Cook the chicken over a relatively high heat. Remove the chicken and then add the onions, cook until softened. Now cook the mushrooms.
Whilst this chicken and mushrooms are cooking cook the pasta. I used fusilli (pasta twirls) and cooked until al dente.
Once the mushrooms are cooked, add back the pancetta and chicken, add some creme frache.
Mix the chicken mixture with the cooked pasta and a good handful of freshly grated parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper.