The weeks are really going by so fast. I can’t quite get my head round it. However summer doesn’t seem to want to come to an end here in Malta. The weather is glorious, a little too hot for my liking, but it comes with one perk. If you’re into eating with family and friends on a breezy rooftop, or if you’re lucky enough to own a luscious green garden, this is definitely the perfect weather for you. There is nothing like fresh food and great company, with perhaps a nice bottle of chilled white to share. This simple pasta dish reminds me of all that. I am looking forward to winter cooking, but in the meantime I don’t mind eating this now.
The school year has started and with it the gloomy weather. I don’t mind it really – better than the scorching heat. I’m no meteorologist (even though I’m known among friends to be quite the tornado buff), but seems to me that the colder weather is on the way, and this means one thing: baking party! I woke up hellishly early this morning and managed to do quite a few things, including baking some breakfast muffins and devoured one (yes…just one) while pottering about in the kitchen. Lately I’ve been into cupcake mode again so after I write this I’m off to chocolate cupcake heaven. I will not keep any recipes for myself, don’t worry.
In the meantime though I humbly wanted to offer a few tips to busy bees who have no time to cook. If rice and/or pasta is your thing then don’t fret and see if you like either one or both of the following. One is a classic puttanesca sauce. You need anchovies for this so I would give it a miss if they’re not your cup of tea. The other is something quick which you can throw together with some rice. (And no, I won’t go into how-the-pasta-got-its-name topic. It’s a classic story for a classic pasta dish. Some would even say it’s vintage.)
For Pasta alla Puttanesca you need the following ingredients, and will give you 3 to 4 servings.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 30g anchovy fillets, drained from their oil and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or peeled very finely
- ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
- 500g spaghetti (or fettucine, I prefer the latter)
- 400g polpa di pomodoro
- 200g olives
- 2 teaspoons capers
- pepper, to taste
- about ¼ or so of pasta water
- Prepare the pasta water and let it heat up well to almost boiling point, or better still have some boiling water from the kettle to hand. You can cook the pasta while you are preparing the sauce.
- In a wide pan pour the olive oil on medium heat, and add the anchovies. Cook for around 2 minutes or until the anchovies have almost disappeared into the oil. Add the garlic and chilli and stir.
- Pour the tomatoes, tip the olives and capers and stir until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add pepper to taste. You don’t need salt here – you get plenty of that with the anchovies and capers, so go slow on that if you still think that you really need some!
- Reserve a quarter cup full of pasta water before you drain the spaghetti. Before serving, add the water to the sauce to thicken it slightly. Add the sauce to the pasta, toss and enjoy.
The second thing I find most convenient is a plain passata to which you might add some fresh basil and Cumberland or Chorizo Sausages. I don’t add any chilli here because the chorizo is already spicy. I make it a point to add a teaspoon or so of dark brown sugar to the sauce and a touch of Worcestershire (how you pronounce this is up to you – they are still undecided here anyway!) Toss this with rice and you have a heart-warming something after a day’s work. So uncomplicated, you don’t even need a recipe…and please…spare me the jokes!