Posted on 10th February, 2018

All in one pasta



February is the classic empty pocket/purse/bank account month. Catching up with Christmas bills, higher energy costs because you need to keep the house warm and the cost of booking those summer holidays because you need something to look forward to.


It’s a good time to look through the cupboards and fridge to see what’s lurking there, what needs using up and what odds and ends of packets are taking up space. There’s always odd bits of pasta in my cupboard, for some reason I never use the whole packet, and last night’s foray into the top shelf produced a couple of handfuls of penne and handful of spaghetti. The freezer provided a handful of borlotti beans, the fridge harboured a few sun-dried tomatoes languishing at the bottom of a long-opened jar, a lonely piece of broccoli and half of a red pepper (the other half used in a salad last week). Along with a tin of chopped tomatoes, a very small onion and a splash of chilli sauce the above few ingredients made for a quick pasta dish which was enough for dinner and two work lunches the next day.


Apart from trying to make sure I throw nothing away I like to use as few pots and pans as possible too, although there are occasions when the kitchen worktops looks like I’ve been cooking for the five thousand!! Taking a leaf out of the Italian’s book with the classic ‘pasta alla genovese’ where everything (apart from the pesto) is cooked together, I cooked the borlotti beans in plenty of lightly salted water then added the broccoli and the pasta for the last 10 minutes. The pan needs to be big enough so that everything has space to cook.


The sauce is made separately, not pesto on this occasion but a thick tomato sauce designed to coat the pasta and vegetables. In a good sized frying pan gently fry the finely chopped onion and pepper, add the sliced sun-dried tomatoes (if using), a tin of chopped plum tomatoes, a dash of chilli sauce (or fresh/dried chilli to taste), salt & black pepper. Let the sauce simmer while the veg/pasta cooks, it might need a teaspoon of sugar if it’s a bit too acidic, sometimes tinned tomatoes can be a bit sharp. As it cooks it will thicken to a deep and luscious texture.


Check the pasta to make sure it’s done, some of you will prefer it ‘al dente’ but I like it a little softer than that, call me weird if you like. Drain well and pour the sauce over, using a spoon to turn the pasta and vegetables over so the sauce and pasta amalgamate. Remember the pasta shouldn’t be swimming in sauce, in true Italian style the sauce just coats the rest of the ingredients.


Serve with grated cheese if required but actually it really doesn’t need it.


As an experiment I want you to raid the darkest reaches of your cupboards and invent a dish from what you find. Send me pictures. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter


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