One of the best things about this time of year is the evenings getting incrementally longer until the Summer solstice. Somehow it's difficult to turn my attention to things like housework or even cooking, when I could be wandering around the garden with a cup of coffee, talking to veggie seedlings and trying to figure out what the heck is living in the compost bin. Over the past few weeks, since the clocks went forward I've realized that it's almost past dinner time and my tummy is grumbling. The best thing to do in those situations is a quick fridge and store cupboard inventory and throw together a meal I can get on the table with minimal fuss.
This dish only takes as long as it takes to boil a pan of salted water and cook the pasta and is made from a few simple bits, which could easily be substituted with whatever else you might have sitting in the fridge.
I've used unsmoked bacon here, and while you could use smoked, I think that it would rather overpower the rest of the flavours. If you can't get unsmoked bacon, blanch the smoked stuff in a pan of boiling water for five minutes to dampen the smoky flavour a little, then dry it and cook as below.
Linguine with Bacon, Taleggio Cheese and Green Leaves
Serves 2, Takes roughly 20 minutes.
200g dried linguine
3 slices, un-smoked, dry-cured back bacon (skin on if you can get it) cut into thin strips
2 large handfuls, spinach
1 large handful, rocket (arugula)
2 cloves, garlic, crushed
8 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly quartered
1 courgette (zucchini) quartered length-wise, core removed, sliced diagonally
3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded (pulp and seeds reserved) and diced
50g (1.75 oz) taleggio cheese, diced about 1 cm (1/2)
2 tbsp nice E.V. olive oil
Pop a pan of salted water on to boil for your pasta and do your prep. Heat the olive over a moderate heat in a medium saute pan and add your bacon. Fry for a few minutes until it begins to colour, then stir in the garlic.
Put the pasta on to cook, testing for doneness by biting when close to the indicated cooking time on the package, then drain and set aside for a sec.
Cook the bacon for a further minute until the garlic begins to smell nutty and fragrant, but not brown, then stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 4-5 minutes, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if it becomes too dry. Pass the pulp and seeds from the tomatoes through a sieve to get all the juices into the sauce, discard the seeds.
Stir in the courgette and cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the spinach and rocket. Cook for less than a minute and turn off the heat, then add the olives and taleggio. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss well enough to combine, but try not to mix so well that the cheese disperses too well into the sauce.
Serve with chilli flakes and a wedge of lemon.