Some pasta dishes can be pulled together in five minutes, others take a bit of extra love. Either way, given how boring pasta can be, your ingredients need to be the best to get a great final result.
Forget carbonara and arrabiata (though, when done well, both are winning dishes) as there are so many variations on the classic staple, which you can create from a cleverly stocked fridge or cupboard. Ingredients I keep to hand in case of emergency pasta suppers include diced pancetta, anchovies, bottarga, peas, frozen raw prawns and frozen cep mushrooms, which I slice and freeze when the foraging is good.
Of course, good olive oil, butter, garlic and seasoning are always crucial, but in terms of the pasta itself I have at least six types I use in different dishes. My favourite is from the Cipriani range (you can find it in many larger UK supermarkets); light and delicate, it cooks in just two minutes.
4 servings of tagliolini (preferably Cipriani)
4tbsps grated bottarga
80ml good extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bottarga is dried grey mullet roe and comes pre-grated or whole. It doesn’t sound too appetising, but it has an amazingly rich, salty and bitter flavour. It’s expensive, but so intense that a little goes a very long way. I keep it either grated or whole in my fridge for adding to pasta or scrambled eggs.
Cook the tagliolini in boiling, salted water according to the manufacturer’s instructions then drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Melt the butter in a pan, add the olive oil and a tablespoon of the bottarga then toss in the tagliolini, season and add a little of the cooking water to moisten the pasta. Divide into warmed serving bowls and scatter the rest of the bottarga on top.
Photograph by Jason Lowe