After my little moan about “simple” recipes, I thought I should really share some recipes, to demonstrate what I wanted out of cookbooks.
So here’s my recipe for arrabbiata – or at least that’s what I call it. Wikipedia fails to mention the bacon (and I’ve seen the word used on menus and labelled as vegetarian), so in theory I could say that the bacon is optional, but it’s not. Not for my version anyway.
This is a dish adapted from one my friend Steph made for me when we were both PhD students, which I believe was in turn adapted from something her dad made.
Every ingredient will be labelled as N for necessary, G for good, or O for optional.
First, chop an onion (N), crush or finely chop garlic (G), finely chop some chilli (N or else you just have bacon tomato pasta, which is fine but it’s not angry) and chop bacon (N) (scissors are good for this). For 2 people you’ll want one medium or half a large onion, one or two cloves of garlic (that’s the individual little bits, not a “whole one”), and between half and a whole pack of bacon, depending on how rich you feel. Half a pack of bacon for two people will feel like hardly anything, but it’ll be fine. I can’t tell you how much chilli to use. If you have chilli flakes they are fine, try half a teaspoon or a whole teaspoon if you are brave.
Put in a frying pan with some oil (any kind, don’t bother with expensive olive oil if you have cheap oil, but if olive oil is all you have it won’t hurt – in fact if butter is all you have nothing bad will happen – spread might be a bad idea though). Turn the heat on. Try to remember to stir it occasionally.
While the bacon/onion is cooking, chop tomatoes (N). Halves cherry tomatoes, or cut bigger tomatoes into eighths, or just open a tin of chopped tomatoes (less ideal but fine). Most of a punnet of cherry tomatoes, 4-6 bigger tomatoes, half-to-a-whole tin is about right. Red peppers (O) are nice too, but more expensive. Fill a kettle and put it on to boil. Measure your pasta (N) into a big pan with salt (G) – about 100g per person (a packet is usually 500g so that’s 1/5, or 1/4 if you’ve been off rowing or failed to eat lunch). Any pasta will do.
When the onion and bacon look like something have happened to them, put a little bit of your boiled water into the pan and swirl around so it boils up all brown. This is called “deglazing” and it gets the tasty stuff off the bottom of the pan.
Put the rest of the hot water onto the pasta, don’t forget to turn on the heat under the pasta, and now is when you put the tomatoes onto the bacon/onion/stuff.
Pasta take about 10 minutes – poke it with a fork and taste it to see if it’s done. Always start to poke things BEFORE the point at which they are supposed to be done, sometimes things take less time as well as sometimes taking more. You might need to turn down the bacon/tomatoes if they seem to be burning.
Drain the pasta, put the other stuff on top. Put water in the bacon/tomato pan straight away for easier cleaning later. Serve with fresh basil leaves on top (O – but very easy – get a pot, put it on a windowsill, and everyone will assume you are a great cook), parmesan (O, and expensive, cheddar will do).
Written down that sounds like a lot of instructions, and I forgot to take a picture of the end result, but I promise it’s tasty.