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This page somewhat out of step with the evolution of my tastes, but still...

It is said that man cannot live on pasta alone. This is almost certainly wrong: I thrived for over a decade on practically nothing else.

Pasta is the perfect food. It is tasty, filling, and versatile. It is fast to prepare. It is full of complex carbohydrates, the fuel of athletes. I eat lots every night, just in case. It is cheap and stores forever. It is a way of life, and a very pleasant one, at that. I eat it at home and around camp fires. I rarely choose it at restaurants, however, because they seldom prepare it well, and besides, I know how easy and cheap it is.

Put a large pan of water on the boil. Add some salt. Use a large plate as a lid so it warms.

Most sauces are fast enough to prepare once the water is boiling and the pasta in. Depending which of pasta and sauce you commit to first, that choice will drive the other. Lumpy sauces with sausages, bacon and so on call for lumpy pasta, perhaps penne or rigatoni. Smooth sauces of oil or cream call for ribbon pasta, perhaps tagliatelle or spaghetti.

Unless you have the time and energy to make your own pasta, keep and ample and varied stock of the dried variety, which is better than most fresh pasta. In addition, have the following always in stock:

  • oil, a good extra virgin olive for cooking, and an excellent one for flavour and lubrication;
  • garlic, fresh, lots;
  • bacon, of the flavour-full variety;
  • sausages, smoked (I keep a stock frozen. In fact, my freezer contains nothing but bacon, sausages, vodka and tobacco);
  • chillies, dried, the little evil red ones, to be chopped finely;
  • pepper, always black and freshly, coarsely ground;
  • herbs, basil, oregano and rosemary, preferably fresh, but dried are better than nothing;
  • pesto sauce, preferably home made, but I cheat on this one too;
  • tomatoes, tinned Italian, and tomato paste;
  • cheese, fresh old Parmesan, grated or shaved;
  • eggs and double cream; and
  • wine, a gutsy red. Italian's OK, but Australian's better.

Most of these keep well (although wine seldom does in the Castle), so it is not an impractically huge inventory. Even I can manage it. These basic stocks provide countless combinations for sauces. Olives, capers, anchovies, red onions and sun dried tomatoes provide countless more. I even add broccoli occasionally. But flavours should complement, not compete. Minimise the number of ingredients: garlic and pepper are essential, but save most of the others for the morrow. Here are some ideas:

Garlic. Deliciously simple. Fry ample garlic in ample oil until turning brown.

Carbonara. Fry bacon. Separately, mix egg, cream, black pepper, parmesan. Stir into each other and the hot pasta immediately before serving.

Four formagio. Boil cream down to half its volume. Mix in a variety of cheeses. Pepper and garlic, of course. (See also pizza)

Sausages. Fry sausages (sliced or crumbled) with onions. When brown add tomatoes, herbs and maybe some wine. The longer it bubbles the better. Add herbs and garlic, and perhaps cream just before serving.

Just before the pasta's al dente, drain it quickly and toss it into the sauce, or onto the plate for top dressing. Serve with wine, pepper and cheese to hand and to taste. Enjoy.

Page last modified on January 05, 2012, at 01:54 PM