Pasta Carbonara:

Pasta Carbonara:

Prep:           20 mins

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        2

Rating:         2:  Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!

So, where does the Carbonara name come from? 

Well, it’s like in Cornwall, when the Cornish pasty was the miner’s meal break.  In Italy, they had Carbonara.   The ‘carbonara’ bit simply refers to the coal they hacked from the earth, so it’s the coalminer’s meal, taken down the mine and eaten cold.  Dunno what they carried it in though – Tupperware wasn’t around then!    See – not only do you learn how to cook, you also get a lesson in Italian social history and culture – that’s what I call good value in a book wot tells yer ‘ow to cook.

Now, after being super-impressed by this wonderful on-line publication…….

For 4 people, find:

  • 400 g spaghetti, linguini… (or whatever pasta…..)
  • Drizzle ofolive oil
  • 1 or 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 100 g pancetta, diced (or use smoked streaky bacon)
  • 3 egg yolks (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to separate eggs).
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Generous pinch of grated nutmeg (if you have it – if not, don’t be so generous with it…..)
  • A good amount of coarsely ground pepper
  • Loads of chopped parsley (flat or curly-wirly)
  • Large saucepan of boiling water
  • Deep frying pan

 

Method:

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (use the kettle….). Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes until al dente – just tender.
  • Meanwhile (yes, you CAN multitask), heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and cook the peeled shallots and pancetta over a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes until golden.
  • Separate the eggs, either using your fingers or by using a plastic egg separator fingy (see Tricks’n’Tips….), then whisk up the yolks with the grated parmesan cheese, pepper, chopped parsley and nutmeg if you have it.
  • Put it aside, ready for the big moment when it all comes together.
  • Drain the pasta but keep half a cup of the cooking water. Pop the pasta to the pancetta mixture in the frying pan and mix.
  • Add enough of the pasta water to just make it a bit sloppy.
  • Then chuck the whole lot into the cheese and beaten egg mixture and toss everything together using a couple of forks. The heat from the pasta will cook the egg mixture perfectly.
  • Serve it immediately with a salad of some sort. Remember to sprinkle extra parmesan and black pepper on top.

(Then imagine that you’re down a deep coalmine in Italy…..)

Pasta Bolognese:asta

Pasta Bolognese:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This basic mixture is a very good one for many mince-based meals.

Find:

  • A batch of cooked pasta
  • Small pack beef mince (400g)
  • Onion
  • 1 carrot (size as you wish – you’ll find that large ones are bigger than small ones….)
  • ½ a green pepper (or could be a different colour)
  • 100g chopped bacon bits (streaky is nice)
  • 1 or 2 cloves crushed/chopped garlic
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Dollop of tomato puree
  • Red wine if you have it
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan

Method:

  • Break up the mince with a fork as it is dropped into the pan and fry over a high heat to colour the meat. It will produce an amount of fat which should be poured off and dealt with as in Tricks’n’Tips.
  • Turn the pan down to a medium heat.
  • Chop the onion, carrot, bacon, pepper and garlic finely and soften on a low heat with the mince for 5 mins.
  • Add a can of chopped tomatoes, pour in a glass or so of red wine and add good squeeze or dollop of tomato puree.
  • Season well with black pepper as the tomatoes will certainly benefit from it. Leave the salt until you taste it later – the bacon will add a certain amount, and you can’t take out salt once it’s in.
  • Put the pan onto the lowest heat possible; lodge a lid half-way on and just simmer for about 30 mins, stirring as necessary to avoid it sticking to the pan.
  • Season to taste and use it to make whatever dish you are doing. It is ready for both Lasagne and Bolognese as it is now.
  • Spaghetti is the traditional one but I personally find it too messy.
  • Use whatever pasta you like – dammit, you’re eating it.
  • Serve it up, eat it, enjoy it.

Veggie Lasagne:

Veggie Lasagne:

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main

Serves:        4-6

Rating:         2:  Easy, but a bit long-winded (but worth it).

Find:

  • Pack of lasagne pasta sheets
  • Veg/nuts/pulses that you want to use
  • Onion
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Oil
  • Seasonings
  • Extra cheese, grated, for the top (Parmesan would be nice, but don’t feel guilty if it’s got to be ‘mousetrap’)
  • Frying pan
  • Oven dish
  • A batch of Delia’s all-in-one cheese sauce, for which, you’ll need:
  • 40g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 425ml cold milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • Grated cheddar or Leicester cheese

 

Method:

Just the same as the non-veggie one, but using nuts, mushrooms, aubergines and other veggie stuff instead of the mince.

IMPORTANT: Buy a packet of lasagne pasta sheets.  There is simply no point in messin’ about trying to make pasta – life’s too short as it is!How does this work?Close

For the mixture:

  • Start by chopping an onion and getting it into a large frying pan (low to medium heat) with some oil. Soften the onions.
  • Peel & cube the veg that you’ll be using. Sweet potato/yam is a good one for this.  Garlic?  Why not!?  Courgette/marrow, field mushrooms (but don’t go to the expense of getting wild mushrooms as they’ll be lost in the other flavours).  Remember that texture is important, so use toasted pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or something with a bit of resistance to the bite as well as the softer bits.  Bung ‘em all in and get ‘em frying well.
  • Open a can of chopped toms and chuck that in, too; then rinse the can with half a can of cold water and pop that in too. A really good dollop of tomato puree should be next.  No, don’t be tight….. more of it!  Get the mixture bubbling and then simmer for a while.It’s simple.
  • With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.
  • You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.
  • One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.

For the pasta: For the sauce:

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan.  Put the saucepan on a medium heat and whisk (balloon whisk or electric) until the sauce starts to bubble and thicken.  Then stir with a wooden spoon to get right into the corners of the pan and whisk again thoroughly.  Mix in the grated cheese.  “How much cheese?” I hear you call…. The answer is “As much as you like”.  Save some for the top though, just to make it pretty.

Assembly: 

My eldest brother always insists that lasagne isn’t just cooked – it’s built! 

He’s probably about right, actually, as it’s ultimately an assembly job using all the bits that have been cooked.

  1. Veg mixture
  2. Pasta sheets
  3. White sauce
  • So, take your oven dish. You can see how much ‘stuff’ there is to go into it, so pick one that’s big enough.  Lasagne is well-known for bubbling up and spilling over the edge of the dish, making your oven mucky! 
  • Pick a dish that is big enough (or use two smaller ones) and even then, always stand the dish on a baking sheet or oven tray that is more easily cleaned than the bottom of the oven.
  • Plop about a quarter of the veg mixture in the bottom of your oven dish and spread it around with the back of a spoon.
  • Place some dry pasta sheets on top (according to size of sheet/dish), overlapping a little. Yes, you’ve guessed it; it’s just a layer that you want.  Snapping the sheets to make them fit is fine.
  • Spread about a quarter of the cheese sauce on the pasta.
  • Season with lots of black pepper!
  • Now you are getting the hang of this…. yes, now do it all again for the second layer
  • …. and then do a third layer, this time putting the remaining sauce on top so that it permeates down during cooking. Sprinkle the grated cheese (that you wisely kept back) on the top of the final layer of cheese sauce.
  • Pop it into a preheated oven (180C) for 20-30 mins.

WARNING:  When it’s cooked, this needs to be taken out of the oven about 10 minutes before serving, because the contents of the dish will be awfully hot.  SCALDINGLY hot.  I know that it’s obvious, but believe me; it’ll be DANGEROUSLY hot if you serve it immediately.

  • Serve it with salad and enjoy it.

Thinking about it, how about making a lasagne using just wild mushrooms in a liquidised field mushroom white sauce…….?

ALSO:

5V16a – Pasta-Free-Pasta?

Instead of using pasta sheets, if you would like to make it pasta free (Uh? A Pasta-free pasta dish?????)

Yes!  Just use leeks to make replacement ‘sheets’ (unwrap them, silly!) and you’ll be able to get rid of the flour content….. gluten free an’ all that!  For the sauce, use gram flour instead of wheat flour.

So, all you need to do is unwrap as many leeks as you need, trim them to shape/size and boil them for 10-15 mins.

 

With appreciative thanks to The Hairy Bikers who thought of the leek trick first – a lovely bit of sideways thinking.  Well done chaps!  Unless they heard about it somewhere and thought it a good idea….  I don’t really mind. 

  • Is there really any such thing as a ‘new’ recipe?

Mushroom, aubergine & spinach ‘Rotolo-ish’ Pasta:

Mushroom, aubergine & spinach ‘Rotolo-ish’ Pasta:

PICTURE 9

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 to 4

Rating:         3:  Moderate, but take it easy and you’ll be able to do it.

Have faith.

FIND:

For the tomato sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 fresh torn basil leaves – yes, it does actually make a difference.
  • 300 g nice, red & ripe (or even over-ripe) tomatoes, peeled (see Tricks’n’Tips), seeds removed & chopped.  (If you can’t find any, just use a can of chopped tomatoes and then double the dose of tomato puree.)
  • A good squeeze of a tomato puree tube (about four inches or so)
  • Seasoning to taste

For the filling

  • 250 g spinach
  • 1 large aubergine, cubed to 1cm
  • 100g mushrooms, whatever you can get but make ‘em tasty ones if you can
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp chopped marjoram (well, dried marjoram/oregano will do even though fresh is preferable, but hey, who’s gonna know the difference….. is Delia comin’ to dinner?  Nah!)
  • 50 g freshly grated parmesan
  • Clean tea-towel (or you could use cling-film instead)

 

For the pasta:

Buy a packet of lasagne pasta sheets.  No point in buggerin’ about trying to make pastaHow does this work?Close

  • It’s simple.
  • With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.
  • You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.
  • One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.
  • Take about 6 sheets of lasagne and drop ‘em into boiling water, trying to keep ‘em separate cos you need the sheets to still be sheet-like and not stuck together.
  • Boil for 10 mins and remove from the water. Retain the water for now.

For the tomato sauce:

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a lowish heat, sweating the garlic until softened but not at all coloured.
  • Add all the tomatoes & purée and the basil leaves, then cook slowly for 25 minutes, or until thick and creamy.

For the filling:

  • Wilt (see Tricks’n’Tips) the spinach in butter and a splash of water, and leave to cool. Remove, squeeze out any remaining water then chop roughly (the spinach, not the water).
  • Chop the aubergine into cubes, chop the mushrooms and fry them until they become quite coloured.
  • Combine the spinach, aubergine, muggies and ricotta together in a bowl, then mix well with your fingers.
  • Add the egg yolk and marjoram and mix in well using a wooden spoon.
  • Finish with a sprinkle of salt and a grind of black pepper.
    Place the wet & floppy lasagne sheets, overlapping (by an inch or less) in a 3X2 formation, side by side on a large clean tea towel (or use cling film instead), making one large pasta sheet. Spread the filling evenly over this.
  • Fold over the edge of pasta nearest to you then, using the tea towel (or cling film) and the weight of the pasta to help, roll up the pasta and filling like you would a Swiss roll.
  • Brush the open edge of the pasta with a little water and press to seal the cylinder.
  • Wrap tightly in the tea towel (it was a clean one, wasn’t it? – you could have USED CLING FILM!), then tie the cylinder every 10cm and the ends of the towel with kitchen string. (I know it’s a ruddy phaph, but just do it and stop whingin’….!)
  • Bring a large pan/oven tin or fish kettle of water to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Place the roll in the water and poach for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.
  • Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.
  • Gently untie the rotolo, as it has now become, and cut into slices 1cm thick.
  • Arrange them in an oval earthenware dish, open ends upwards.
  • Cover with the tomato sauce then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, until just coloured, and serve immediately.

Sounds good, eh?

Tell yer wot – it looks and tastes better than that!

Sneakily chillied aubergine & olive rigatoni

Sneakily chillied aubergine & olive rigatoni

(or whatever pasta you….)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 to 4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find:

  • 450 g rigatoni pasta  (or whatever shape pasta that you have)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large aubergine
  • A  combination of about 20  black/green pitted olives, all pitted
  • A dozen large sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2  chillies (dried or fresh), or use dried chilli seeds from a grinder/mill
  • A can of chopped toms
  • A very long squeeze of tubed tomato purée, or half a jar.
  • 400 g freshly grated mozzarella cheese
  • Smoked Scamorza cheese (if you can get it)
  • freshly grated parmesan, for grating or shavingHow does this work?CloseIt’s simple.

With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.

You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.

One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.

METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 200C.
  • Cook the rigatoni in boiling lightly salted water for 10 mins. You’ll need to use a saucepan for this, of course.
  • Cube the aubergine into 1cm cubes. Peel & thinly slice the garlic.
  • Halve the olives and then slice half of them, quartering the other half to vary the size of the bits.
  • Chop the sun-dried toms, varying the size from large to tiny.

The chillies – You now have a choice:

  • You can chop the whole chilli.
  • You can halve it and remove (and discard) the seeds, then chop it.
  • You can just use a chilli seed grinder and forget about buying those fiddlin’ ruddy chillies in the first place! This way you can adjust the chilliness of the sauce accurately as you cook’n’taste….  You can see which one I’d favour, can’t you!
  • Use another saucepan to heat the olive oil and sauté (see ‘Tricks’n’Tips) the garlic, aubergine, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and chilies for a few minutes.
    Add the can of chopped toms, tomato puree and a little salt. Cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat.
  • Drain the pasta after about 10 mins (leaving a good splash in the saucepan to accompany the pasta), add to the sauce, sprinkle with some parmesan, mix and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Place half the rigatoni mixture in a baking dish, adding a layer of half of the mozzarella, half of the Scamorza and another sprinkle of parmesan cheese over the pasta.
  • Add the rest of the pasta, lay final layer of cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Look at it after 10 mins.  It needs to be brown’n’bubbly…..

                    Now wait for the reaction of your diners!

Porcini & Portobello Mushroom Rigatoni.

Porcini & Portobello Mushroom Rigatoni.

(or, whatever mushrooms you want to put with whatever pasta you have – but it just loses that air of romance when you call it that, don’t y’think?)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 to 4

Rating:         2:  Easy, but there’s an amount of friggin’ about to do.

(But it’s worth doing).

Find:

  • 250 g Rigatoni, or whatever pasta you have handy
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 250 ml single cream
  • 30 g grated Parmesan
  • Cubes of fried mushroom (Portobello & Porcini in this case – if you have ‘em. If not, use whatever muggies you ‘ave got!)
  • Perhaps one Portobello mushroom kept whole for each person (optional – see comments).
  • More finely grated Parmesan, and Parmesan shavings, to serve

How does this work?

Close

It’s simple.

With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.

You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.

One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.

                Method

  • If using fresh mushrooms, cut up and fry in oil to a golden colour.
  • If using dried mushrooms, you’ll have to re-hydrate them first – see what it says on the packet/box/container. They need to be in small chippings before you cook them.
  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta, leaving just a little bit of the water in the saucepan. Return the pasta to the pan and place over low heat, stirring in the egg yolks, cream, Parmesan and seasonings. Remember that you’ll need an amount of coarsely ground black pepper or you’ll be arrested by the taste police (again).
  • Stir for a couple of minutes or so, as the egg needs to cook on the pasta.
  • Stir in half of the mushroom chippings. Pile onto the plates
  • Sprinkle the rest of the muggies over the pasta on the plates, then the grated Parmesan, then the shavings.
  • Serve with lots of wine – and friends.

VARIATION:

If you cook the Portobello mushrooms whole, and one is put on the plate before the pasta goes on, there would be a surprise muggie lurking beneath the pile o’pasta….. a new slant to “What Lies Beneath….?.” (The scary film, y’know?   Oh well, that one fell onto stony ground and perished!).

 

A rather sumptuous Veggie Fettie

A rather sumptuous Veggie Fettie

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 to 4

Rating:         2:  Easy, if a bit long-winded – but definitely worth it!

 

  • 250 g fettuccine or linguini (in which case it would be called ‘A rather sumptuous Veggie Linguini’, which sounds just as good, I’d say…)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 250 ml single cream
  • 30 g grated Parmesan
  • Cubes of fried courgette, mushroom and/or aubergine
  • More finely grated Parmesan, and Parmesan shavings, to serve

How does this work?

Close

It’s simple.

With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.

You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.

One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.

                Method

  • Cut up the aubergine, courgette and mushrooms into cubes or small pieces and fry in oil to a golden colour. (You might as well have all three – why not?)
  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
  • Drain, leaving just a tiny bit of the water in the saucepan. Return the pasta to the pan and place over low heat, stirring in the egg yolks, cream, Parmesan and seasonings. Remember that you’ll need an amount of coarsely ground black pepper or you’ll be arrested by the taste police.
  • Stir for a couple of minutes or so, as the egg needs to cook on the pasta.
  • Stir in half of the veggie bits. Pile onto the plates
  • Sprinkle the rest of the veggie bits over the pasta on the plates, then the grated Parmesan, then the shavings.
  • Serve with lots of wine – and friends.

Pasta sauces:

Pasta sauces:    How many supermarket checkouts are there in Edinburgh?  That’s about how many pasta sauces there are available these days. (No, I don’t know the answer to either question – nor do I care, so don’t bother to tell me).

In other words, you don’t have to keep to a specific recipe for a sauce.  Let’s just continue to cheat fairly.

Ok, you can buy pasta sauces.  So go buy one if you want.  The price of a pasta sauce is not so great, so you may just decide to buy one and stir it in.  However, here are ways to do a good, low cost pasta sauce of your own making – and you can boast about it afterwards.   

  • Cheating fairly 1 – Bachelors/Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. (It was called Campbell’s Condensed Soup for years).   Without any other additions, simply pour a can of Campbell’s/Bachelors condensed cream of mushroom soup (or even the low fat version, if you must) into your drained pasta, rinse the can with half a cup of the now cooled pasta water (add water to can, hold a clean hand over open end, shake vigorously, pour mixture into saucepan) and heat for just a few mo’s.  In addition, you can add some frozen/canned sweetcorn/peas/other already cooked and readily available veg.
  • Cheating fairly 2 – The bacon part (or indeed, the part that’s not bacon….):
  • If you have wisely bought a cheap ‘bacon bits’ pack (offcuts) from the market, you can chop them up (discarding the fatty bits – or fry those up and put them in the dog) into 1cm cubes and fry them off with lots of coarsely cut onion and add that to the pasta before the can of condensed soup.
  • Or, if you have some of the currently fashionable wafer-thin ham left over from whatever, tear that up and chuck that in instead.
  • Or, of course, forget the bacon/ham and drain off the contents of a can of tuna and chuck that in instead, with the sweetcorn.
  • If you like pasta & sauce, you like cheap living.
  • Cheating fairly 3: Instead of the Campbell’s/Bachelors condensed soup, try a can of chopped tomatoes (they must be chopped though, not just the whole plum toms). The accompaniments can still be the same (except that Tuna certainly goes better with the mushroom soup variation).
  • Cheating fairly 4: Some people like to just drizzle olive oil and lemon or lime juice over the pasta before mixing with a good, clean pair of hands.  Me?  I want MEAT!
  • Cheating fairly 5: The simplest sauce, I suppose, would be a can of chopped tomatoes with torn-up fresh basil leaves.  That one is nice.  Try it, especially if you can add a little tomato puree to the canned toms before heating it up.  Add the torn basil leaves as you pour it over the pasta as they need no cooking.  Another good veggie alternative:
  • Pasta types/kinds/methods & things:

Penne is basically a pasta tube that catches the sauce.  Other shapes, like the shells, do the same thing, but differently.  The pasta spirals are also designed to make the most of the sauce by catching it in the slots.  But pasta is pasta is pasta.  Shapes differ, sauce collection varies but pasta is basically pasta.  There is normal pasta and there is pasta Verdi (green pasta because they’ve put spinach in it); there is wholemeal pasta and there is egg pasta.  There is good pasta and not-so-good pasta, but pasta is generally a good value, wholesome, substantial meal.  Try Gigli pasta.  I first discovered this in France and I like it more than most types.

Fresh pasta is really much nicer than the basic dried stuff – but it is still pasta. 

At least with the good ol’ spud you can boil it, roast it, bake it, fry it, sauté it…….  With most pasta, you normally just boil it.

  • However you have your pasta, it is quick, easy and it can be really nice if you know how to push its buttons. Accompany it with salad and you have a good, wholesome, quite healthy and attractive meal.
  • Until you get fed up with pasta, as I have. But there we are.  I still eat pasta quite often, but it’s normally because I need a change from non-pasta dishes – or I’m in a hurry.
  • Hurry = pasta.
  • Whatever sauce you choose, pour it over the pasta, mix, reheat a little and serve.
  • Add seasoning to taste (not any salt if it’s with bacon) and scoff.

Chicken & Bacon pasta

Chicken & Bacon pasta

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins in total.

Course:        Main / Supper

Serves:        2

Rating:         2:  Easy

For two people, Find:

  • 1 chicken breast (see Tricks’n’Tips for thawing out chicken) or use cheap chicken bits, stripping the flesh from the bones when it has been cooked and cooled enough to handle without burning your little pinkies. For 4, 6 or 8 people, increase the chicken and bacon according to number, or budget.
  • 2 rashers bacon (wassat, you got 3…..well, use ‘em. Wassat, you got…..)
  • Onion(s)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more)
  • Oil
  • Pasta of some sort (I prefer to use penne or tagliatelle), enough for two. Try Gigli pasta – that’s fun!
  • Can of Campbells Condensed Cream of Chicken soup
  • Left over veg from the fridge – or chop & cook fresh veg of nice pretty colours…..
  • A splash of white wine if it’s about. Drink some too!
  • Dried dill herb
  • Left-over cheese of any sort?
  • Parmesan cheese?
  • Large, deep frying pan, with lid if poss – see Equipment
  • Large saucepan
  • Large ceramic oven dish able to hold everything.
  • (You can add mushrooms as well, in which case try Campbells cream of Mushroom soup instead)

METHOD:

  • Put the pasta into a pan with plenty of boiling water, a drop or two of oil and a slug o’salt. Boil for 10 minutes.
  • Chop/slice (do whatever you want with) the onions.
  • Squash, peel & finely chop the garlic. Chuck ’em in the pan with a splash of oil and soften them.  Don’t burn the garlic or it will be ‘orrible! UGH!
  • Chop up the chicken. If it’s pre-cooked, just leave it by the side for a mo.  If it’s not cooked, make sure that you take suitable precautions about keeping it, the board and the knife away from anything else, as uncooked chicken juices in a salad can cause a few problems of a painful and occasionally fatal nature – not that you can die twice, but y’know what I……!
  • Throw the raw chopped chuckie into the pan, then follow it with the bacon, cut as small/big as you want. After a few mo’s, cut up the cold veg and launch that towards the pan as well.  Add seasoning to taste.  I give it a few good pinches of dried dill too.  If using cooked chicken, put that in after the raw bacon.
  • Put the contents of the Campbells can in and rinse the can with a quarter of a can of water to rinse the can (if you can’t find any white wine for that purpose, that is…..) and mix gently.
  • Put on the lid and turn down to minimum heat.
  • Thoroughly wash all knives, board, surface that the chicken has touched. Immediately, so that you don’t forget.
  • When the pasta is soft, drain most of the water away, leaving a little bit (how long is a piece of string….?) of water in the bottom. Either pour the pasta into the mixture or the mixture into the saucepan – or all into a big bowl and mix thoroughly.  It doesn’t matter if it cools off a bit in a cold bowl as it’s destined for the oven anyway.
  • Add chopped up left-over cheese that may be languishing in the nether-regions of the fridge, mix again, then pour all of that into a large ceramic oven dish. Level it down and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese – as much as you wish (you choose how much – you’re gonna eat it!).
  • Bung it in a preheated (160 degs C) oven for about 10-20 minutes, until it has started to crust up.
  • Serve with salad; and friends. And wine.  Or beer.  Or….

One can of Campbells will do for two to four people, but for six or eight people you’ll need 2 cans.