Pasta was a go-to when I was at university. It’s cheap, quick, and easy. Which is all you really feel like at the end of a long day. In my uni days, and actually still now too, if I’m making dinner for me, myself, and I, it’s rare that I’ll do anything very extravagant. I think part of the pleasure I get out of experimenting in the kitchen is being able to feed other people delicious food. If it’s just for me – meh – I’ll have some cereal or toast or something. Or cheese. I love cheese.
Anyway – this recipe is Mary Berry’s “15 minute pasta”. It doesn’t take 15 minutes. It drives me nuts when people claim that recipes take 15 minutes when they absolutely don’t. Eggs on toast. That takes 15 minutes. Beans on toast – perhaps 12 if I’m being super efficient. This pasta dish is D-LISH (#poet), but it definitely takes at least 40. I own Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals book. Do any of them realistically take half an hour? No. Don’t be ridiculous. For any normal human being, they take at least double that. At least. But the recipes are scrummy, so it’s a great go-to if your cooking for friends or family one night.
I feel like I’m getting side-tracked. It happens a lot. Even on paper. Well – on laptop. I think it’s quasi-normal to go off piste in conversation, but in writing? Not so much. I mean I could just go back over this and edit all the random babble out, but to be honest – I just don’t have it in me today. I started a shiny new job at the beginning of the week, which I am really enjoying, but I must say that I am really rather exhausted. It’s not even like I have even been particularly rushed off my feet. I woke up this morning and my eyes were determined to stay shut. I had to consume A LOT of coffee to snap into awake mode. I’m definitely looking forward to a bit of a lie-in on Friday. Even though I know full well that my body will wake me up at work-o’clock. One can only dream. Or not in my case.
TO THE POINT, HARRY. Pasta. Yes. Right. Mary uses prosciutto and chestnut mushrooms. That’s what I used when I made this at my grandparent’s house last week while back in the UK and it was glorious, but on a uni budget – I’m sure bacon and regular mushrooms would work just as swimmingly. This would be a good one to make for a bunch of chums one evening. And then fill them up with a delicious dessert. Perhaps a cheeky bowl of Eton Mess? Go on. Oh – and if you happen to be cooking for any vegetarians, this also works really well with veggie bacon!
I need to sleep immediately. So I hope you enjoy this. I’ll try and be a little less waffly next time. Oooo waffles… *gazes off into the distance in a waffly wonderland of thought*. Shh. Enough now. This serves 6 people.
350g penne pasta
2 tbsp vegetable oil
160g Parma ham, snipped into small pieces
250g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered
200g crème fraîche
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
Handful of chopped parsley
salt and black pepper
green salad and crusty bread, to serve (optional)
1/ Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside.
2/ Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add half the Parma ham and fry until crisp, then remove and set aside.
3/ Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 2 minutes.
4/ Add the crème fraîche and bring up to the boil.
5/ Add the pasta, Parmesan, remaining ham and parsley and toss together over the heat. Season well.
6/ Serve topped with the crispy Parma ham and with a green salad and crusty bread, if you like.