I’m off to France tomorrow (exciting prospect of Normandy food and cider and Calvados!) and so when I was thinking about supper this evening, my thought, more of the ‘being sensible’ kind of thought than ‘happy expectation’ thought, was, I’d better see what’s in the fridge and use up anything that will be off or past its best by the time I come home. I’m only away for just over a week but the two almost overripe tomatoes, the lone courgette, the half onion, quarter piece of red pepper and half a buffalo mozzarella weren’t going to be much good by the time I’m back. Nor was the half bag of green salad. The obvious thing to do, it seemed, was make a pasta sauce. And as it was clearly going to be a pasta sauce of the rustic kind, I decided I’d have some rustic but rather wonderful orecchiette pasta from Puglia as my base. I’ve written about this lovely ‘little ears’ pasta before and I like its slightly rough texture and the bite it retains when cooked.
I’m a fridge full person but I try to not waste and rarely throw things away. I like to open it and see a wealth of culinary possibilities. However, when it’s holiday time coming up, even I manage to rein in my natural tendencies to fill the fridge. So, I gathered the remaining perishable morsels and got cooking.
First of all, get the vegetables ready to cook. Finely chop 1/2 medium onion and 1 clove garlic. Chop 1 courgette and some red pepper (you may have more than my quarter piece!) into smallish pieces. Skin and de-seed 2 tomatoes and chop roughly. Have a few fresh herbs ready to add. My choice is limited at the moment as all the lovely herbs I grow in the garden have suffered badly in the rainy weather but I gathered some thyme and rosemary.
Now get the pasta going, especially if you’re using orecchiette as it takes longer to cook than most other pasta shapes – about 15 minutes.
Heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a pan and start frying the onion and garlic. After just a couple of minutes or so, once it starts softening, add the pepper and courgette. Allow that to cook a little and soften slightly, then add the tomatoes and chopped fresh herbs. I also added about a tablespoon tomato puree at this point and a few dried chilli flakes (because I’m a bit of a chilli girl – but it’s optional).
Stir round and make sure everything is well mixed and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. At this point I added a good glug of rose wine – because I had some open and was drinking a glass at the same time I cooked. Well … it was already open and needed to be used up too!
Let the mixture bubble away for 5 minutes or so and thicken slightly. However, it’s nice if the vegetables still have a bite and aren’t cooked down into a mush, so don’t cook for too long. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the vegetable mixture, gently folding it all together. Transfer to a serving dish and then break up 1/2 buffalo mozzarella into small pieces and dot on top. The cheese will slowly melt slightly, giving gorgeous little gooey mouthfuls when you eat the dish.
Serve with a nice crisp side salad – preferably dressed as in my Dressing the Salad post – and enjoy! Really, it was so delicious that I won’t be waiting till I’m going away and empyting my fridge before I cook it again … it’s worth buying the ingredients specially to have this for supper.