Monday, 30 March 2009

The pleasures of pasta

After four days of quite ridiculous overeating in Canada (involving at least two multi-course meals every day) it was good to be home again. Although it’s exciting, flashy restaurant food palls after a while so it was lovely to eat a dish as straightforward as penne with a simple tomato sauce and a green salad tonight.

I don’t know why we don’t value such dishes more. The Italians are certainly happy enough with them but we (and I include myself in this generalisation) too often seem to feel the need to fiddle about with recipes that are best left alone. And the more ingredients you add, of course, the more a dish costs.

Staggering off to bed shortly. Even though my body clock tells me it's only 4.40 pm I've been up by Canadian time since 2 am this morning, having slept a bare 3 hours on the plane. There's a price to be paid for all that fun . . .

15 comments:

smilernpb said...

I LOVE pasta, the only thing is I haven't quite figured out what size portion to cook for an adult or a child, therefore I always end up with too much (it would never do to have too little!).

My six year old, however, will only eat plain pasta, which for me tastes AWFUL. It has to have a sauce!

If you made a pasta dish, and have leftovers, I assume it's OK to put in the fridge for another day? After all, you see pasta dishes on sale next to the sandwiches at various outlets.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

verity said...

I eat pasta and tomato sauce at least twice, generally three times a week. It does provoke a sigh from OH who despite being veggie likes his protein, but it's so easy and so cheap. And IBS friendly!

Fiona Beckett said...

The recommended portion size for healthy eating is 100g per person though a lot of people would find that on the stingy side. I usually cook 250g-300g for the two of us depending on the other ingredients so that my husband who also feels pasta is not really a 'proper' meal can have a second helping

You can refrigerate any leftovers but need to dress the pasta first otherwise it sticks together. And I find if I'm using it as a salad it needs a bit of pepping up with dressing/herbs and possibly a bit of lemon zest the next day. Apart from any veggies or other ingredients you might add.

verity said...

It's good to use leftover pasta with some pesto (and then whatever you have like tomatoes, olives, cheese, salad leaves) for lunch the next day. We call this "pasto".

Or with mayo and sweetcorn and tuna, also always good.

local lass said...

Just back from Venice where one of our party reckoned the best dish she had all weekend - and we had some amazing food - was a dead simple spaghetti all' aglio e olio - in an osteria where the gondolieri having their lunch outnumbered the locals and the very few tourists (a chance find). The spaghetti with squid and ink was p.d.g. too, if not quite so frugal.

Fiona Beckett said...

Those type of restaurants are the best in Venice local lass. I remember having some great spaghetti alla vongole there too.

And LOVE the idea of pasto, Verity. You should post that on the Beyond Baked Beans Facebook page!

smilernpb said...

Fiona, thank you for your reply...were those weights before cooking, or after?

Also, silly question, how do you 'dress' pasta? lol

How long can you keep any left over pasta in the fridge for? So many questions....!!

recipes2share said...

I agree, a simple tomato sauce is heaven especially after over indulgence!! - Fiona I thought of you yesterday...I'm not renowned for being terribly frugal, but I feel rather proud of myself having made a delicious broccoli dip made from the leftover stalks. It was really delicious so resisted telling anyone exactly what it was that they were eating. It all disappeared and quickly!

notSupermum said...

Pasta with a good tomato passata is a great stand-by meal when the children are hungry but I refuse to take them to a fast food place. It's quick, cheap and I always have dried pasta and passata in the cupboard. A bit of cheese grated on top (but not for me....bleuugggh!) and that's a great meal in about 15 minutes.

Fiona Beckett said...

Answers for smilernpb:

100g dry weight - i.e. before cooking

'Dressing' pasta - anointing with oil, sauce or salad dressing

And I wouldn't keep it for more than 24 hours - not simply for safety reasons but because it loses its taste and texture!

Fiona Beckett said...

Good for you saving those broccoli stalks recipes2share. I've similarly saved some watercress stalks tonight having used the leaves in a salad. Will probably blitz them into a soup or add them to a stir-fry.

And glad to hear you're also a simple tomato sauce fan notsupermum (though why no cheese?!) The way I make it is to use a tin of tomatoes rather than passata. I heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, add a crushed clove of garlic, tip in the tomatoes then cook them down until they're thick and jammy (about 7-8 minutes) then add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce slightly. You can add other ingredients but I usually simply stir in some fresh herbs at the end. Much cheaper than a shop-bought sauce and you can control the amount of salt and other seasoning you add.

robert said...

A very simple spaghetti dish I made had only egg spaghetti (I use egg pasta as it more filling) served with chilli flakes, grated Parmesan and a swig of olive oil. I am sure it could also be teamed with a tossed salad.

That was the day after when I had just moved house and had little to hand but I think it was inspired by an Italian recipe. I hope you liked Toronto but I remember being shocked at getting a huge salad, when I thought I had asked for a side salad. I did ask correctly. What brings to mind is the colossal waste of food!

Fiona Beckett said...

No, you're right. The portions are huge, Robert - as elsewhere in North America. Except at Frank the cafe at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) - a wonderful space

notSupermum said...

Fiona, I don't like cheese. Yes, I know, I'm a freak. But my daughters like it so we always have some in the fridge.

Fiona Beckett said...

My daughter doesn't either notsupermum. Or rather she does but can't eat it as she's dairy intolerant. Nothing to be apologetic about - it's us cheese obsessives who are the freaks!

UA-3466976-1