So it has finally happened: you can buy a pasta making kit. No, silly – not for making pasta but for creating ‘picture perfect plates of (…) pasta’, ready for Instagram.
Filled pasta of the type that could be called ‘prosciutto and mozzarella’ as well as ‘sawdust and potato’ tortelloni because you cannot discern any flavour in the filling whatsoever. I buy the brand sometimes because it’s cheap, cheerful and inoffensive. Now they’ve thrown in a few sprigs of basil, a spoonful of pecorino and charge a tenner instead of £2.50. I expect the sexy plates and tea towels are not included.
I don’t intend to buy any of those kits even in the name of research, but I wonder if the enclosed instructions on how to plate up tell you to shoot the photo before cooking? Everybody knows food photographs much better when cold – as opposed to being eaten. I know what I’m taking about – I’ve been eating cold food for four years…
I can add my input here for ready-made filled pasta: potstickers tortellini, incidentally the same brand as above. Styling instructions not included. Just. Eat.
But if you want to go pasta route, why not make a proper dish? Fresh pappardelle with bacon, capers and pangrattato is a deliriously tasty dish with very distinct flavour – and laughably cheap and easy too. For a pasta bake, which is so tempting at this time of year, you might go for jumbo shells, conchiglioni, and fill them with walnuts and ricotta for a vegetarian version, and beef ragu for a meaty one. Slip the dish into the oven and it’s heaven half an hour later. And any cooked-too-much amount of plain pasta can be turned into pasta fritta the following day. More pasta recipes on these pages.
What else to cook this week? I’ll vote for a lamb shank or a gammon hock if you can find it at the butcher’s or supermarket. There is something deeply satisfying in those cuts: the meat cooked slow and low, falling off the bone, served with some snappy seasonal vegetables like sprouts or celeriac.
For a deep satisfied feeling without meat, bake a tray of cauliflower cheese or a spinach casserole; substituting the cheeses for appropriate vegetarian equivalents. And for a deeply happy crowd at home, veggie or not, bake this banana chocolate chip cake – just a glance at the ingredients’ list will make you go ‘mmmmh…’
Finally, you know it’s coming: there’s my Christmas Collection page, there’s the content you can filter by the season and there’s newsletter which will do it all for you if you subscribe. Get that turkey on order!