Pasta rustica, 144pp.
by Loukie Werle
Pennypig, Double Bay, NSW, 2012
Cooking on page 32
We’ve just had Ralph, a 15-year-old French exchange student, staying with us for the three months before we headed to India.
It was a complete pleasure to have him, but do you have any idea how much a 6’2″ sporty boy eats? I had forgotten, but at least he loved pasta. A 500-gram serving of pasta went some way to filling him up. Obviously, I checked this out of the library for some inspiration.
Loukie Werle is an award-winning food writer and also author of Italian country cooking.
Orecchiette with tomato, corn and bacon
500g short dried pasta, such as orecchiette or penne
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely shredded fresh basil leaves, plus extra basil leaves for the top
2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
3 corn cobs, lightly cooked, kernels removed
6 green onions, cut diagonally into 1 cm pieces
4 rashers bacon, grilled until crisp and crumbled
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until just al dente. Drain and rinse briefly under cold water. Drain again and set aside in a large bowl.
Combine the vinegar in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and whisk until the salt has dissolved. Add the oil gradually, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Stir in the basil.
Add the tomatoes, corn and green onions to the pasta, pour over the dressing and toss well. Scatter with bacon and extra basil leaves, and serve immediately.
How it played out
There was no reason to change a thing, so I made as written. I even made a special trip to a supermarket that I thought would sell orecchiette. It’s not a very common pasta here. Luckily the supermarket had it on hand.
I used grape tomatoes and short-cut bacon, both of which I had on hand. Australia’s short-cut bacon looks rather like Canadian bacon and is very lean. By the way, in Australia a punnet of cherry tomatoes weighs 250 grams (or about 8 ounces).
Oh wow! This makes a delicious pasta dish. I thought 1/4 cup of oil would be too much, but the balance of flavours was perfect.
And don’t believe the suggestion that this recipe can feed 8 people. It fed three adults and Ralph, who polished off the rest with a big smile on his face. He loved it lots and I bet he’ll make it at home.
We’re travelling in India—mostly visiting wildlife parks—until the end of November. Whenever possible, I’ll be posting page-32 recipes that I made before we headed out.
If you like Indian food as well as fish, check out this amazing recipe. It is so good that it ended my search for the perfect fish curry.