I made a wonderful pasta dinner last night. It was something of an experiment as I'd bought a bit of an unbalanced collection of stuff at Borough on the weekend with the idea of an enormous variety of salads but without a structure to go with them. As the weather becomes bleaker and the days are noticeably shorter I am chasing the last taste of summer. The produce is still there and it seems like madness to not use it while I can. Much as I love sprouts and parsnips there are months and months ahead where they will be the only option.
I'd been thinking about basil oil - I had a wildly successful plant this year (first time ever in London) and I wanted to use the rest of the plant before the leaves shriveled and fell off. I am coming to the end of a bottle of basil oil and so voila! that was my answer - make my own. Which got me thinking about how much I like the basil oil. I had a couple of handfuls of thin green beans, originally to stir fry with garlic and paprika and some rashers of unsmoked bacon. Pasta could be good.
Penne with Bacon and Beans
150g/6oz thin green beans, topped and tailed and cut in half
300g/12 oz penne or other small pasta
1 tbspn olive oil
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 dried chilli, crushed
2 tbspns chopped flat leaf parsley
150g/6oz unsmoked bacon, cut into thin strips
Basil oil to garnish
Bring a pan of water to the boil, throw the beans in. When the water returns to the boil drain the beans and run under cold water. They should be bright green and squeaky. Put more salted water on to boil and add the pasta. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and add the parsley, garlic and chilli. Cook over a very gentle heat till fragrant then add the bacon and increase the heat slightly. Stir occasionally.
When the pasta is cooked take out about a cup of the cooking water then drain. Add the green beans to the bacon, stir and then mix into the pasta with some of the cooking water to keep it loose. Stir to make sure it is well mixed then serve into large bowls and top with a slug of basil oil.
This is summer in a bowl. Quick and easy - the whole lot is made in less than half an hour including chopping time. It has a great range of flavours in the grassy and sunny part of the spectrum. Make it while you can.