Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Easy peasy creamy pasta

A very simple dish that I've cooked regularly but never blogged is so simple that I'm almost embarrassed to blog it.  But with Big'Un heading to uni in a few weeks, it seems important to note down even these obvious recipes so she can use them when she needs them.  This is one she loves and is easy and quick and satisfying.  I used to cook it whenever we stayed in a caravan or anywhere self-catering due to the simplicity and low number of ingredients.

1 pack of boneless chicken of choice
olive oil or butter to fry
1 pack of cream cheese (flavoured if you like - I used black pepper this time; I've used garlic and herb in the past too)
1 onion
half a teaspoon of garlic granules (optional)
1 heaped teaspoon of Marigold (yes, I always take this with me on self-catering holidays)
a splash of white wine
a bowlful of frozen veg of choice (peas, sweetcorn, a small bag of mixed veg, whatever)
(if you don't have a freezer, a tin of sweetcorn would also work)
splash of green Tabasco.
salt and pepper to taste
300 - 500g pasta shapes

Begin by getting the water on to boil.  Then chop up the chicken into bitesize pieces and fry them until golden in the oil or butter.  Chop the onion while that is frying.  Once they are done, remove with a slotted spoon and put the chopped onion into the pan.  Fry slowly until translucent.  

Once the water is boiling, add salt to the water and boil the pasta shapes for the time stated on the packet.

Once the onion is soft, add the chicken back in, with the garlic granules and the Marigold and finally the wine.    Stir it all well and add the veg and then pop a lid on and simmer until the pasta is done.

Once the pasta is cooked, scoop a mug of water out and reserve and then drain the pasta. While that is draining in the colander, add the pack of cream cheese to the chicken and stir it about and let it melt evenly through the chicken.

Carefully mix in the drained pasta and if needed add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to help loosen the whole thing to coat the pasta in the creamy sauce.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and the very important green Tabasco.  I haven't found anything that makes this dish quite the way that green Tabasco does, it's the sour tang I just love!  Honestly, I love the flavour of it almost as much as I love Marigold; I'm pretty sure my kids don't recognise foods cooked without one or t'other!!

Monday, 13 April 2020

courgette and bacon pasta

Well, we are a nation in a very different place than the last time I blogged.

Covid-19, lockdown, social distancing, queues for entering supermarkets, supply shortages. No pasta, no toilet paper, no flour, no eggs, no ketchup, no tinned tomatoes... Strict limits on purchases of the above if you CAN find them, as well as on hand-wash and hand sanitiser.

I'm lucky that I've always been a bit of a hoarder, and I like to buy in bulk anyway, and also I'm lucky enough to have a fantastically well-stocked local corner shop - so I can get a lot of basics practically on my doorstep when I need them.  Including pasta!

This dish was quick and simple, and veg packed and frugal.  Everyone enjoyed it, including Papa who is usually very mistrustful of courgettes.

I used:

2 courgettes
1 medium onion
125g bacon
one teaspoon of butter
half a teaspoon of salt
half a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper
one teaspoon Marigold powder
splash of white wine if you have it, otherwise just splash in some water
50-75g plain cream cheese

400g pasta 
grated cheese to serve

First I chopped up about half a pack of unsmoked back bacon from the corner shop and dry-fried it until golden.  This is the point that Papa filled a large pan with water and put it on to boil for the pasta.  We used 400g of mixed fusilli - half wholewheat and half tricolori, basically because wholewheat is a bit more filling so goes further and the tricolori is interesting and also its what I found in big bags in Sainsbury's a few weeks ago.

Next I topped and tailed and halved and quartered 2 courgettes lengthways and then sliced the quarters up thinly.  They weren't at their best, but this didn't really matter.  I then halved the onion and sliced one half very thinly and chopped the other half finely.

Once the bacon was nicely golden, I removed it from the pan with a slotted spoon, and tipped in the courgettes.  I left it to brown slightly and soften, and then added the onion and the butter and sprinkled in the salt.  I turned the heat down slightly and left it to soften.

Meanwhile, at some point the water came to the boil, and so Papa put the pasta on to cook around when I was taking the bacon out.  Papa asked me if the sauce would take as long as the pasta, and I wasn't sure, but both were done around the same time in the end!

Once the veggies were nice and soft, I added the Marigold powder and the splash of wine.  Honestly, water would be fine, or cider, or dry sherry if you happen to have it!

Once the pasta was cooked, I put the bacon back into the pan with the courgettes and also a ladleful of the pasta water.  Finally, I stirred the cream cheese into the courgettes and bacon.

Tiny had at least 2 helpings, not-so Littl'Un loved it, not-really BigUn enjoyed it too and added it to her plan of things to cook at Uni....