Thursday, April 30, 2009

Penne with Zucchini & Mascarpone

Out of curiosity I bought a copy of easy cook magazine the other day and was amazed initially at the sheer volume of recipes that could be made in less than half an hour, serving up in under a whole hour not being one of my core skills. Though in my defence I usually have at least one thing to nibble on while you wait. Then I looked a little closer - and wish I hadn't! - at things like lamb and potato hot pot - ready in 20 minutes, cost per portion £1.20. It required the cook to seal diced shoulder of lamb for five minutes, add a tub of shop gravy, top it with sliced boiled potato and grill for 5 minutes. The meat would be soooooo tough - you need lots of gentle heat to make tender meat.

But the recipe that really snagged the edge of my mind and won't let go is one for lasagne - ready in less than 20 minutes. Without using no cook pasta. It involved tipping boiling water over sheets of fresh lasagne then interleaving them with slices of processed ham and tinned olives and coating the lot in tinned tomatoes that had simmered for 3 minutes with a clove of garlic. Top it with cheddar and eggs mixed into a pot of yoghurt. It could only produce a nasty mess. A vision of it keeps popping unbidden into my mind - they very kindly supplied a photograph - rumpled pasta and thin slices of pink plastic ham with lumps, from the olives no doubt, the base haemorrhaging thick red gloop.

No wonder people buy ready meals.
Not me, obviously.

I'm back at french class this week and really needed quick quick when I got home. I had half a tub of mascarpone left from Friday that I didn't want to waste, some zucchinis that I bought for something else that's not going to happen this week and on Saturday I made a batch of basil oil that I am besotted with. Pasta it had to be.

Penne with Zucchini & Mascarpone
3 zucchini, about 6 or 7 inches long, halved lengthways, then cut into thick slices
6 cloves new season garlic, or 2 regular garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons basil oil or olive oil
1/2 tspn chilli flakes
1/2 tspn fresh grated nutmeg
125ml mascarpone
250 gr penne pasta
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta.

Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, chilli flakes and zucchinis. Stir to coat then leave to cook on a low heat for 5 m inutes. Grate in the nutmeg, season and stir well. The zucchini should be turning brown in patches and softening slightly.

Take half a ladle of hot water out of the pasta and mix it into the mascarpone to make a loose sauce.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and then return to the pan. Mix in the zucchini and the mascarpone till well combined. Serve in large bowls.
Total yum.

Apart from it's fabulous flavour and the lush creaminess and the small resistance to the bite from the zucchini and the little pinpricks of heat from the chilli the other thing about this dish is how easy it is. While the pasta water comes to the boil, chop garlic and zucchinis and cook the lot together in separate pans.
And ready in twenty minutes....


cathyc said...

Okay, You've talked me into trying a zucchini spaghetti sauce. Well done!

bron said...

My work here is done. Bon appetit!