Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spaghetti with Nutmeg and Parmesan

We arrived back in London late Sunday afternoon after two weeks away to find that summer had arrived in our absence complete with clear blue skies and pasty people sunbathing on all available open grass. It was good to be back though there was nothing much in the way of edible in the house. After a so-so lunch many hours earlier at Pau airport we were hungry to go with too tired to go out anywhere too far and there's not a tempting array of options on Clapham Road Sunday nights. Could do Sunday roast at the Fentiman but they'd been serving since midday and I've never braved the delights of Chicken Cottage and wasn't about to start now. Don't mind the trip to the corner shop for fresh milk and butter but they don't really have much else I'd be serving up for supper.

It's difficult after time away to find something good to eat that is simple enough to prepare after what has likely been a long day but also fabulous enough to ward off disappointment and the slight lowering of spirits that comes with knowing it's back to work and routine and real life in the morning. I want it to be good to add the last pleasure to the holiday and that's a bit of a challenge with an empty larder. I always have various pastas in the cupboard and there is usually a lump of Parmesan in the fridge. With these two essentials and the addition of butter and grated nutmeg it is possible to make a brilliant bowl of food - delicate, pale, flecked with pepper and exuding a waft of warm spice. Tasting it delivers on these promises of pleasure - it is light enough to satisfy with a sufficiently complex flavour to cheer a tired soul.

Spaghetti with Nutmeg and Parmesan

250g/ 1/2lb spaghetti, thinnish if possible
50g/2oz butter
Big lump of Parmesan, coarsely grated
Nutmeg to grate
Salt and fresh black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. When it is al dente scoop out cup of the cooking water before draining it into a colander. Return the pan to a low heat and melt the butter. Grate a generous amount of nutmeg into the foaming butter then add the cooked pasta, the grated Parmesan and seasoning. Stir to combine and melt the cheese, using the reserved cooking water to loosen the mix. Serve in large bowls with salad and crusty bread if you've got some to hand.

Later, there's only a pan, a grater and two bowls to wash. And they can wait till tomorrow when the holiday is over.

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