Linguine with Aubergine, Tomato, Sage, Garlic and Chilli

Linguine with aubergine, tomato, sage, garlic and chilli
Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 small dries red chillies
  • 4-6 sage leaves
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Method:

Fry the aubergine in a generous couple of glugs of olive oil until soft and golden, them remove and drain from the oil on a couple of kitchen towels and set aside.
Chop the garlic, chilli and half the sage leaves and fry gently in fresh olive oil
Add the chopped tomatoes, add salt, fry very gently over a low heat for 5 mins them remove the pan from the heat.
Cook the linguine.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, add the aubergine to the tomatoes and garlic and hear up in the pan.
Add some pasta cooking water if necessary.
When al dente remove the pasta from the water and add to the sauce along with the rest of the sage.
Garnish with roughly chopped cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Linguine with aubergine, tomato, sage, garlic and chilli.

Fusilli pasta with asparagus and pancetta in a dolcelatte and cream sauce

I woke up this morning thinking of asparagus.

Not that it’s especially unusual for me to wake up thinking of food, but it’s normally more of a breakfast type of fayre that draws my thoughts in the morning – and not just fry ups. There seems to be a tri-parity (I’m aware this isn’t a regular term, but you get my drift) between the full English option and a fancying for  the more simple arrangement of marmite or marmalade on toast or (all with real butter of course)..

I do like asparagus of course, as I do most veg – a fact that I could happily present you with the year round, but it’s only at this time of year that I remember that I really like asparagus.
The reason for this annual epiphany is the fact that the English (or more correctly British) asparagus season starts in late April and continues until about mid June.
This fresh, and often locally grown  produce certainly ranks amongst the finest tasting veg I’ve ever eaten. I’m convinced I’m not imagining it’s flavoursome superiority over the imported varieties one can purchase throughout the rest of the year from supermarkets. Maybe it’s the food miles thing..?
Also, fresh green asparagus is not to be confused with the pickled white asparagus to be had in salad form on the continent, which, pleasant as it is, is a completely different animal…(I mean vegetable of course)..

For this dish, I imagined the juicy asparagus as a counterpoint to the small salty bites of pancetta, and coated in the creamy, clingy dolcelatte sauce – as I was eating my marmite on toast.
Just a small aside here: does anybody else out there find that reading cookery books or watching gastronomic TV programmes (or in this case, me imagining my dinner to come) improves the experience of what is essentially a very basic snack..? Or is it just me…?

Anyhow, I find fusilli pasta to be the best for these type of creamy sauces, since the shape of the pasta helps to hold its coating better.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients for the dish

  • Fusilli pasta – enough for 2 people
  • Some pancetta
  • A bunch of fresh asparagus
  • Some dolcelatte cheese (about 100g)
  • Some single cream (about 150ml)
  • A small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic

FIRST….spread some of the delicious dolcelatte cheese onto some small Italian crackers, so you can nibble while you’re cooking (along with the odd swig of wine of course..!)

Necessary snacking material

THEN….. fry the pancetta in some olive oil. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic finely.
When browned remove the pancetta onto some kitchen paper to absorb excess grease, and drain and wipe the pan.

Pancetta frying with onion and garlic at the ready

Soften the onion and garlic in a little butter and oil
Add a the dolcelatte and cream to the pan and heat gently until the cheese starts to melt.

The cream and dolcelatte just in the pan

Meanwhile, prepare your asparagus: Chop the woody ends off the stalks, and then chop the stems into small pieces, and chop off the spears whole.
Arrange in the steamer, cover, and steam (or boil) for about 5-7 mins until done to your preference.
Also, put your pasta on at this point…

Asparagus in the steamer

Keep the sauce on low and continue stirring to prevent from burning.
Drain the pasta when done, and remove the asparagus from the steamer.
Separate the spears from the smaller chopped stalk pieces and set aside.
Add the stalk pieces to the sauce along with the pancetta and heat through.

Sauce with the pancetta and asparagus stem pieces added

Add the pasta to the pan, toss with the sauce until coated evenly.

Toss the pasta in the sauce

Serve, garnishing each dish with the spears and some freshly ground black pepper.

The dish served out with a nice glass of white wine....