Tuesday, 7 June 2011

How to make a pasta sauce from just about anything

Having been a little kitchen crazy recently, I fancied a little break tonight. I made a classic throw-together dinner - few of the ingredients are essential, it can be made with a lot of vegetables that might be in the fridge or freezer and pretty much anything else you have lying around.

I still had the farfalle that I made a while ago, using leftover pasta from the cannelloni, along with some aubergine, leftover from the kibbi. There was also a red pepper, some mushrooms, fresh parsley and oregano, a heel of parmesan, plus I've always got onions and garlic. 
I also had a little bit of cream and lemons left from making the lemon tart. With a small pack of thick-cut bacon and some peas from the freezer, this all added up to the makings of a lovely, easy supper.

After chopping the veg, I put the pasta into a pan of boiling, salted water. Then fried the bacon up with the garlic and onions. When pretty much cooked I added in the aubergine, a sprinkling of dried chilli and a few spoonfuls of the pasta water to stop everything sticking. After a few minutes more, the pepper and mushrooms. When everything was cooked, I added the lemon juice and stirred it through before adding the cream, herbs, grated parmesan, salt and pepper. 

I drained and sitrred the pasta into the sauce, along with another couple of spoons of the water.  

This kind of meal can be made with stock or tomatoes if you don't have any cream and any of the vegetables could be substituted for something else; the base is just pasta, garlic and onion.

The real point of it is that you can make a filling, interesting pasta sauce out of whatever you have in the kitchen; it'll taste better and be better for you than any pre-made jar and takes zero time to do. I think I spent longer writing the four paragraphs in this post than I did cooking it...

The components of Random Pasta Sauce:
1. Liquid: cream, stock, water, tinned tomatoes, passata etc.
2. Alliums: garlic and onions of any kind, even leeks and spring onions can work.
3. Umami: cheese, cured meat, fish, shellfish, tomatoes and mushrooms all give a robust savoury flavour.
4. Vitamins: I usually aim to include at least three different types of veg, to ensure variety in the look, taste and texture.
5. Acidity: lemon juice, vinegar, wine, vodka etc.
6. Seasoning: salt, pepper, fresh or dried herbs, chillies etc.

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