Pasta is not only a super quick and easy meal to prepare, but you can feed an entire family on a bag for less than £1.00 and it’ll keep you content until bedtime. Pasta comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and ingredients from dehydrated to fresh, white and wholegrain, even stuffed with meats and cheeses. As pasta is quite a solid and filling dish I like to keep it light and non-fussy, so move over tomato sauce, see ya later creamy cheese and hello zesty lemon and pine nut drizzle.
Pasta tricolore means three colours, red tomato, white egg and green spinach, a tasty variation on the humble egg pasta bow. Because of the flavours within the pasta tricolore I prefer to dress the pasta rather than make a sauce, so I begin by tipping a few handfuls of pasta into a pan of boiling water. I like my pasta to be somewhat firm without turning sloppy, so depending on the amount of pasta and volume of water it usually takes several minutes for the pasta to soften and my fork to slide through on a constant boil.
Whilst the pasta is cooking I take a frying pan and roughly chop and slice a plump garden grown tomato, white onion, crisp green pepper, a clove of garlic, an inch of root ginger and a handful of basil leaves from the herb bed. I drizzle over extra virgin olive oil and cook on a medium heat until the vegetables turn transparent and the basil leaves wilt. As it cooks in the vegetables release their juices, when they start to turn soft I increase the heat to slightly char the skin, as if I did this from raw they would remain hard and crunchy, not juicy and crisp how I like them. This causes the pan to brown a little as the onions caramelise, so adding a good splash of lemon juice makes it instantly hiss, steam and sizzle, catching all of those beautiful juices and pulling them in together.
Once my fork can pass through the pasta to show that it’s ready, I strain it over the sink and tip the vegetables from the frying pan into the pasta, giving it all a good mix by tossing it with two spoons. Finally I plate it up and add a pinch of raw pine nuts and sunflower seeds which add a sweet, creamy and firm contrast in texture, with a sprig of fresh basil to garnish. The pasta is juicy and succulent with deliciously caramelised zingy citrus vegetables that really lift it, balancing out the soft moist texture with the smooth crunch of the nuts and seeds. And the best part is it’s on the table from start to finish within ten minutes, containing more than your 5-a-day and giving your tastebuds a total workout. You could serve this with a side salad, twice cooked chips, garlic bread, breadcrumbs or a sprinkle of raw chopped fruit and vegetables.