I don’t even begin to pretend that I know anything about taking photos of food. I do know however, that the best food shots are taken with natural light during the day. How may I ask do you suppose I photograph dinner then??
Anywho, shadows aside – this pasta dish that I threw together with the ‘ripened to perfection’ tomatoes I had on the windowsill is so good. So delicious and a little bit naughty. A great ‘Thursday night on the couch watching The Naked Chef while your husband is at rugby training’ kind of meal.
It is traditional in the sense that you cook the pasta to “daringly al dente” as Rick Stein says; has garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, basil and chilli in the sauce, however is a little bit different to an Amatriciana sauce because I sprinkle the crispy bacon on top. I like the texture of the crispy bacon on top better than having it mixed through the sauce.
My parents, two of my sisters (I have three!!) and our good food loving friends, Gen and Geoff are coming over for dinner on Saturday and I’m cooking up an Italian feast. So what better way to get me in the recipe planning mood than indulging in a big bowl of pasta while flicking through the cookbooks.
So throw some good quality dried linguine in your trolley next time you are at the shops and keep this up your sleeve for a cosy night in on the couch.
linguine with tomato, garlic & chilli bacon sprinkle (serves 2 pax)
I know you hear it all the time that Italian food in its simplicity is delicious, however you need to use the best quality ingredients you can find. This dish is so simple but really does need nice fresh tomatoes to make it sing. Alternatively, you can use tin tomatoes.
dried linguine, plus some reserved cooking water
6 large very ripened tomatoes, chopped roughly
small amount of basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
good splash of olive oil and some extra to drizzle on top
salt, freshly ground pepper
2-4 rashers of bacon (sliced in to very small, long lardons)
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating on top
chilli flakes – – and lots!!
– In a saucepan, heat a good glug of olive oil and throw in the two garlic cloves, peeled but whole. Let them fry in the oil until they go a golden brown colour. This will infuse the oil and make all the difference to the tomato sauce.
– Discard the garlic and throw in the chopped tomatoes (be careful and stand back as they will splatter when put in to the hot oil). Turn the heat down and let them simmer away, stirring occasionally for about 6 – 8 minutes. Salt and pepper the tomatoes here and tear in about 6 – 8 basil leaves.
– While the tomatoes are cooking, fry the bacon in a fry pan in olive oil and sprinkle in some dried chilli flakes. Corks and I LOVE chilli so I’m not scared here, but obviously, gauge who you are cooking for. (You can always sprinkle extra chilli once served). Once crispy, reserve the chilli bacon sprinkle and leave the chilli oil in the fry pan to put the tomatoes in.
– Cook the linguine in salted boiling water in a large pot until al dente. Reserve a mug of cooking water.
– Once the tomatoes have cooked down, I strain them and discard the skins. Put the tomatoes in your frying pan that your bacon was cooked in. This is your own personal preference. You can either decide to strain the sauce to make it more delicate or have it more rustic with the whole tomatoes thrown in.
– Put the cooked linguine (be really careful not to overcook it as you really don’t want it soggy) in on top of the tomato sauce and stir, adding a dash of the pasta water to loosen up the sauce.
– Serve while piping hot, sprinkled with the chilli bacon sprinkle, a heap of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh basil leaves and a sprinkle of olive oil.