Pasta! You can throw a haphazardly selected set of things over it, and just put it in your mouth. Pesto and green beans? No problem. Leftover meat from yesterday? Sure, plus a chopped tomato. It’s convenience wizardry.
I always feel like a bit of a cheat when I post one of those recipes. Oh, sure, the pasta section of Silver Spoon is basically this kind of combinatorial list, but it’s backed by another 1200 pages of great recipes. It’s hard to feel shortchanged by a book with a whole chapter on endives.
(yes, I know those are gnocchi – deal with it)
Which is a roundabout way of saying that to make this post feel a little less cursory, I’ve rounded up three basic pasta recipes. Well, it’s more like two and a half. The first is light, summery and vegetarian – rigatoni (or gnocchi) with a sauce of roasted peppers and celery. The second and third are variants – a basic cream sauce with optional spinach, and either salmon or finocchiona sausage.
Tomatoes are splendid, aren’t they? I think they’re probably at their best used fresh and sparingly, so a little of the acidity comes through. Oh, they’re great cooked down, rich and deep, too. But there’s something about dicing them fine and throwing them in with something as it fries that just works.
That’s what this is.
Fennel sausage, taken out of its skin and fried in lumps with a fine-diced onion, then thin slivers of mushroom, chilli, and garlic, with the tomato in at the end. A glug of sherry as it cooks down for 5 minutes, then toss it over pasta and you’re done.
This is so simple it barely counts as cooking, and you’re hard-pressed to make it take more than 20 minutes. But it’s tasty. The sausage is dense and rich, with the fennel coming through nicely. One large tomato seems to do the trick, in a nicely understated way, but it would take more.
The sausages are actually from Asda. I’m not massively proud of that; but, credit where it’s due: their weird regional range is not bad. The cooking chorizo is the weakest. The fennel sausages the best, and the bratwurst are far from poor.