To run the risk of sounding like a perfume advert, I believe in simplicity. My wardrobe is essentially black and white, with the occasional splash of colour a grudging nod to society’s loathing of mimes. Though I play up the hedonistic aspects of my lifestyle in an attempt to seem rock ‘n’ roll and unapproachable, I actually appreciate the simplest things in life the most. The kiss of a cold pillow or the moment you take off your socks rank just as highly for me as a Hawksmoor steak or a Hendrick’s G & T.
This doesn’t always translate into food. I love to cook the likes of duck confit and decadent venison, and I’ll never order something basic in a restaurant. I want to be dazzled and surprised by other people’s food and by extension hope to do that with mine, sometimes at the expense of the pure satisfaction of a good nourishing plate of grub.
I’m not going to pretend that this dish would buck that trend. Given the choice in a restaurant between this and some warlock concoction of infinity meat and atomic vegetables I’d probably go for the crazy experimental thing. However, as a quick supper for myself and a hungry Alakina, it hit the spot so completely and so comfortably that it has stuck in my mind and feels worthy of a blog post.
This is what James Ramsden would call a fridge slut – a meal glued together from the contents of our fridge on a lazy evening. Therefore, don’t put too much stock by exact quantities, methods or ingredients. Consider this recipe a drawing board upon which you can pin your own leftovers and tastes. For example, if I had my way I’d have included some smoky chunks of pancetta & a liberal sprinkling of capers.
Spinach, mushroom, goat’s cheese and roast tomato pasta
- Half a bag of spinach
- One red onion, halved and finely sliced.
- Two garlic cloves, crushed. One clove finely chopped.
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes
- A handful of button mushrooms, sliced
- About 100g goat’s cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- A little balsamic vinegar
- A splash of red wine
- Conchiglie pasta
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Heat your oven to around 180°. In a roasting dish, liberally coat the cherry tomatoes, crushed garlic cloves and red onion with olive oil (nothing fancy) and season with a good big pinch of both salt and pepper. Place in the middle of the oven and turn your attention to a cigarette.
After fifteen minutes or so, the tomato’s skins should be starting to split and darken. At this point, squish the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. They shouldn’t put up too much resistance. Mix the onion and garlic into the newly formed mush. Add a big glug of red wine and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Put back in the oven.
Whilst the sauce is reducing further, get the pasta going. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta shells and cover. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until they’re done. I like a bit of bite in my pasta, but it’s all down to personal taste.
Now that the other two elements are happily bubbling away without your attention, melt a little butter in a big frying pan. It’s going to accomodate the whole dish by the end, so make sure it’s roomy. Add the chopped garlic just as the butter begins to foam and cook for a minute or so before adding the mushrooms. Stir around enough to coat the mushrooms in the hot garlicky butter before adding what will now be the roast tomato sauce from the oven. Poke a few basil leaves into the pan and allow to bubble for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent any sticking.
Drain the cooked pasta and stir into the tomato sauce. Add the spinach in big handfuls and allow to wilt on top of the sauce. Stir in with the goat’s cheese before serving quick and fresh with the rest of the wine.