This is an easy but tasty recipe for a pasta dish that will be enjoyed by many. It is simple to adapt for vegetarians, since you can just leave out the bacon. It only takes roughly 30 minutes to prepare and cook, so would make an excellent supper after a long day, or would impress your friends at dinner without keeping you in the kitchen for too long. It's even better when accompanied by a glass of Chianti!
- Frying pan
- Large saucepan
- Small saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Slotted spoon
- Sharp knife
- Ovenproof dish about 30cm × 24cm and about 5cm deep (12in × 8in and 2in deep)
- Oven gloves
This recipe should serve four, or three if you are greedy!!!
- 320g pasta (about 4 handfuls) - fusilli (spirals) is particularly good, but you could use other types, such as farfalle (bowties) or conchigle (shells)
- 4 rashers back bacon (unsmoked is fine, but smoked would add extra flavour)
- 4 large button mushrooms (or 8 small button mushrooms)
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 100g cheese
- olive oil for frying
Cut the bacon rashers into 1-2cm squares and roughly chop the onion. Cut the mushrooms into small pieces (about ½cm cubes so they will cook quickly later). Chop three of the cloves of garlic into small pieces.
Boil some water in the large saucepan and then add the pasta. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn the heat down slightly. Leave the pasta to simmer, stirring it occasionally, until it is al dente (so it is cooked through but firm to the bite) - this usually takes about 8-10 minutes, but you should check the instructions on the packaging for the pasta you chose.
While waiting for the pasta to cook, heat a little olive oil in the frying pan and add the bacon and onion, moving the ingredients around the pan occasionally, until the onion has softened and the bacon is beginning to brown. Turn down the heat, and do not let the onion start to burn, then add the chopped garlic, mixing the pieces in well.
Place the chopped tomatoes into the small saucepan and warm them gently. Mince the remaining clove of garlic, and mix it in with the chopped tomatoes.
Add the mushrooms to the frying pan and leave them to cook until they have softened and begun to turn brown.
Drain the pasta when it has cooked for long enough.
Using the slotted spoon, scoop the fried ingredients into the ovenproof dish, and spread them around the bottom of the dish. Then spoon the pasta over the fried ingredients, and spread it out around the dish. Next spread the hot chopped tomatoes over the top of the pasta. Finally cut the cheese into thin slices and spread them over the top of the mixture in your dish.
Place the dish under a hot grill for five minutes until the cheese has bubbled and is turning golden brown. Remove it from the grill1.
Turn off your cooker, and serve out the pasta dish for however many are eating.
This creates a layered dish, which is a bit different from everyday fare. The meal can be made even more speedy (with less washing up to do afterwards) if you use a large frying pan to cook the bacon etc and add the tomatoes and crushed garlic after the mushrooms have browned. When the mixture is hot, pour it into the pan with the pasta, stir well and then transfer it all to the ovenproof dish for cheesing.
Once you've mastered this recipe, you can vary it. Add mixed herbs and black pepper (plus salt if you wish) for an Italian flavour, or include green peppers and chilli powder for a spicy dish. You could also choose different vegetables depending on what you have in stock. Serve the pasta with garlic bread for an even more filling meal, or add a side salad of mixed lettuce leaves.
If you're not having a party, the other portions can be transferred to airtight containers when they have cooled. Store them in the fridge and they can be reheated in the microwave and enjoyed on the following days too!