Archive for June 22nd, 2009

Ever since I removed this recipe from a magazine it has proved to be one of our most popular family pasta dishes. I have lost count of the number of times I have made it, or variations of it, including on holiday last year in France. It is truly quick and easy – as the family know, my motto for holiday cooking is, in theory: ‘If I cannot get food on the table within 30minutes (less if possible) I am not interested’!

The original recipe from chef Jamie Oliver was published on a 2008 Sainsbury’s ‘Feed your family for a fiver’ (ie. £5) free instore recipe card and in various magazines alongside shop advertising. The basic recipe was pasta, bacon, garlic, crème fraîche, courgettes and cheddar cheese, which tastes good, but I have varied it a little in the ensuing months. In the version below I have included items I add regularly, especially as we like a few more vegetables – and somehow it just cries out for the grated Parmesan cheese topping.  Some supermarkets sell packs of mixed bacon pieces which are fine to use for this dish and economical too.

Rather than spoil a whole meal as I once did, be warned that occasionally courgettes are bitter and it is best to try a small piece of each one before adding to a recipe. 

Variation – see below:  
Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Butternut Squash

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Courgettes
(Serves 4)

400g Penne or similar sized pasta shapes
250g  Ham/Gammon or streaky bacon (preferably smoked)
2 medium sized courgettes
200ml low fat crème fraîche
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, fine chopped or crushed
40g mature cheddar cheese (or Mozarella)
1 medium white onion (as well as or in place of garlic – optional)
1tbsp olive oil (if using onion)
100g button mushrooms, quartered (optional)
1 medium red pepper, in small chunks (optional)
20g finely grated Parmesan cheese, I use Grana Padano (optional)

1.  Cook the onion, garlic, bacon and mushroom (if using) gently in the olive oil for about 10 minutes, until the onion is transparent and the bacon/ham cooked through.  If you are not using the onion then omit the olive oil.

2.  Meanwhile, put cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water, stirring occasionally and adding a small dash of oil to stop it from sticking together. 

3.  Slice each courgette lengthways into four pieces and the chop into ½”/1cm lengths.  De-seed and dice the pepper (if using).

4.  Stir into the bacon mixture and cook for no more than 10 minutes until the courgette is soft.

5.  Drain the pasta and stir through the bacon & courgette mixture.

6.  Gently stir in the crème fraîche and heat through very gently making sure it does not boil as it will split.

7.  Grate the Cheddar cheese and stir through the mixture just before serving but do not cook over the heat or it will spoil.  Alternatively sprinkle the Cheddar over the top if not using Parmesan.

8.  Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of Parmesan (or the Cheddar)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Butternut Squash 
Exchange the courgette for butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced.  I also added quartered button mushrooms and a red pepper cut into strips.  Otherwise the method is the same as above. 
My family have started to request this in preference to the original!

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