Summer pasta

My fridge hasn’t been to inspirational recently.

But after a traumatic 5km charity run I thought I’d treat myself with a nice supper lastnight. So when I got back from work today the standard of fridge leftovers was a lot better than usual.

Some asparagus, sugar snaps and soft goat’s cheese. Delicious.

I ferreted out some frozen broad beans, mint leaves, virgin olive oil and some crushed pink pepper.

And then the best bulking out ingredient ever: orecchiette. I’m not one for splashing the cash in the supermarket unless it’s for a good reason. But if you’re using nice ingredients, it really is worth the extra £1 for this ‘little ear’ Southern Italian pasta made from durum wheat semolina and water. They have a slightly rough outer surface, and a tasty soft, chewy centre.

It’s a light meal with great summery flavours. And it’s a classic one pan dish – the pasta takes ten minutes, so chuck in the broad beans six minutes into cooking, and then chuck in the asparagus and sugar snaps a couple of minutes later. Drain and dress with mint leaves and goat’s cheese.

Budget food

Budget eating is big. There are entire blogs devoted to feeding yourself on a shoestring. And today I’m going to join in, because I came up with quite a good wheeze involving the Marks & Spencer ‘two-salads-for-£3 deal’.

It’s quite simple. One for lunch and the other one as the base of your evening meal. I had giant cous cous with roasted pepper and red onion at work, and then used this one to sheesh up my supper:

The rest just involves the sort of food you might have lying around in your kitchen. Tescos penne pasta (48p), mushrooms (78p) creme fraiche (£1.10) and bacon. Boil the pasta, and in the meantime cut up and then fry the bacon. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan after five minutes – and chuck in a bit of thyme if you happen to have any lying about. (I didn’t – but it would’ve been nice!)

Once everything’s cooked, add a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche to the warm pan (but take it off direct heat to do this). A slosh of chicken stock and a squeeze of lemon would be a good addition – once again, I didn’t manage lastnight – I was too tired/hungry, but it would have enhanced the creme fraiche-based sauce.

Finally add the cooked pasta, and then chuck in the Marks & Spencer salad pot you didn’t eat at lunchtime – in this case, bean salad. Stir and serve. Quick, cheap and tasty.

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I was recently asked what my favourite sort of cooking was: pastry, foreign cuisine, game, puddings…? But I honestly couldn’t whittle it down.

I gave it some thought though, and I reckon my favourite sort of cooking is ‘cooking on a budget.’ Does that count?… 

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