Pasta is highly underrated. Fact. Having grown up in Italy, pasta was an integral part of our daily diet. Italians were magicians when it came to pasta – they could rustle up the most intense and beautiful flavours with less than a handful of ingredients. It was all about quality; even just mixing together top quality pasta with a drizzle of top quality olive oil and some shavings of Parmesan was a recipe for success. But despite fond memories, pasta has sunk to the bottom of my meal inspiration list, overtaken by more exotic ideas and often fuelled by a scroll through Pinterest.
Thankfully, my love has been re-kindled by Angela Clutton, professional chef and food writer, who re-introduced me to my forgotten flame during a masterclass at Borough Market. Here I watched as she nonchalantly tossed some dried porcini, crushed garlic and chopped chilli into a pan to create a flavoursome pasta dressing, adding just a little chopped parsley, grated Parmesan and Olive oil towards the end. Simple, but effective. As always, when using top quality ingredients (and everything came fresh from Borough Market), less is more.
To make this dish at home, you will need:
- 30g dried porcini
- 450g dried fettuccine or buccatini
- 70g butter
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 20g parmesan, grated
- 2 large handfuls flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil to serve
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 12 mins
1. Soak the dried porcini in warm water for 30 mins. Drain, dry on kitchen paper and roughly chop.
2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, make sure there is plenty of salt in it, then add the pasta.
3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter in a sauté pan that will be large enough to take the whole finished dish. When the butter is sizzling, add the porcini. Stir round for a few mins until the porcini are starting to soften, then add the crushed garlic and chopped chilli. Season. Heat only long enough for the garlic’s aromas to start to be released, then take off the heat.
4. Two minutes before the pasta packet’s recommended cooking time, check if it is ready. Once it is, ladle out some of the pasta water and then drain. Return the sauté pan to the heat.
5. Toss in the pasta, grated parmesan, chopped parsley and then just enough of the reserved pasta water to achieve a cohesive sauce.
Give it a few good grindings of pepper. Serve straight away with olive oil drizzled over to taste.