Welcome back to one and all, or welcome for the first time, to this fine city of Edinburgh. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of university or straight out of school, chances are you need a cracking pasta dish for a long night of work, a party with friends or just to convince people you are not the worst flatmate in the world. If you are the worst flatmate in the world, this is your chance to claw back some brownie points. In any case, this is a great dish: cheap, impressive and ever so delicious.
I came up with this whilst looking at the vegetable selection in the supermarket, so it isn’t too difficult to find the ingredients, it doesn’t take long to make and it is great for the fading summer (in Edinburgh, sort of less so). So dust off the chopping board your mum packed you, find yourself a knife and a pan and enjoy! This recipe is for 2 people, so scale it up accordingly.
TO BEGIN COOKING:
Start with the chopping: 1 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a handful of basil (if you have any) and 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon/pancetta. Then chop 4 large tomatoes. The best thing to do is invest in the nicest ones you can find (Lidl/Aldi are good for this!) They should be soft and squishy, a deep red.
Chop them quite roughly and put them in a sieve or colander with a good pinch of salt. This ensures the excess water is removed and softens their skins (useful for later on). Make sure the onion, garlic and bacon are all chopped as small as possible as this dish relies on quick cooking.
Get the bacon cooking in a frying pan, keeping the heat on a solid medium so that it goes crispy slowly. As it cooks get a large pan of salted water onto the boil. When it is just reaching the crispy stage add the onion and garlic to the pan and turn down the heat.
You want the onion to caramelise slowly, not fry. As the onion just softens to a delightful translucency you should add the pasta. 100 grams is a fairly generous portion per person, feel free to add more if you so desire. Keep shaking the tomatoes in the sieve to get rid of excess water. If the skins rough up a bit in the sieve that’s absolutely fine.
As the pasta reaches a nice al dente (nine minutes or so), put the salted tomatoes into the pan and turn the heat down to absolute minimum. Drain the pasta into the sieve and then add to the pan. As the heat of the bacon and pasta gets into the tomatoes they’ll melt into a slight sauce and this is now a great time to be alive. Try to stay in control of yourself as you mix the mixture with a spoon to combine all the elements. Season it with plenty of black pepper, the chopped basil and a bit of salt (you shouldn’t need too much).
Serve it in big bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a bit more basil. I love to serve it with a garlic bread (#lyf) and a glass of white wine (#lyf). I hope that this dish reinvigorates your now flailing relationship with your flatmates (leaving pans to ‘soak is just not a thing, but sharing the washing up is a good bonding activity.) Enjoy!
If you want to make your own garlic butter then add 50 grams of butter to two cloves of finely minced crushed garlic. Traditionally you chuck in a good handful of chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread it onto any bread you can find and give it to all your friends so none of them complain about breathing to close to them.
[ Image: Pixabay @ WDnet ]