It’s easy to forget how versatile pasta is when you’re cooking for a busy family. Classic Pasta recipes like spaghetti bolognaise, tuna pasta bake and meatballs and spaghetti deserve their place as everyday family favourites, but surely pasta can offer more?
Pasta is a cheap, filling foodstuff. And because it will keep almost indefinitely, it makes an excellent store cupboard staple. But pasta has enormous potential to make mealtimes exciting if you let it take centre stage every once in a while.
By switching some of the ingredients in the pasta recipes you already know and love, brand new dishes can be conjured out of thin air. These changes don’t have to be elaborate. Italians often like to eat their spaghetti with simple ingredients like butter, parsley and parmesan.
Using the minimum of ingredients really helps the natural taste of fresh pasta shine through in authentic Italian dishes. But pasta also works well as a base for richer dishes. Why not bake your spaghetti in a cheesy white sauce with smoked bacon lardons and lace it with parmesan and curly parsley?
Pork has become a very sought after ingredient in the UK over the past few years. Once overlooked as being fatty or less appealing than beef or lamb, gourmet restaurants are now popping up all over the nation to pander to the desires of a nation of pork lovers.
It’s easy to create exciting pork recipes that tie in with the food you and your family already enjoy. Why not try replacing beef mince in your meatballs with pork mince? Or you could try combining tagliatelle with bacon and pancetta?
One of the reasons that pork has become a much more popular meat in recent years is the abundance of delicious continental varieties of cured meats and sausages in our supermarkets. Not so long ago it was difficult to order decent Serrano ham from a specialist butcher; now it is a common ingredient that can be found almost anywhere.
Spices are also an important part of cooking exciting and delicious meals. Schwartz has a fantastic range of Italian herbs, spices and herb mixes which are usually available in even the smallest local supermarkets. It’s never been easier to get creative in the kitchen.
Don’t stick to the flavours you know. After a bit of research you’ll soon become attuned to the tastes you love and want to explore. Flavours like bay leaf and oregano go beautifully well with ragu sauces, and parsley mixes very well with stronger meats and fish.
There’s nothing more satisfying that sitting down to a meal you have created. With pasta dishes it’s possible to do this in less than the time it takes you to finish the washing up. Pasta is quick, easy, exciting and delicious. What more could you want from a midweek meal?