Is there a better ready made meal than a pack of filled pasta? I think not.
What does it take from dropping the pasta into salted water on a rolling boil, to getting said pasta in yonder feed hole? Two, three minutes at the most. The biggest difficulty is finding a colander, a clean bowl and a fork in the limited amount of time available.
All that being said, there is one major problem: it is a universal truth that the perfect amount of shop bought filled pasta is three quarters of the pack. Not half – no, these packs are not for sharing. Nor whole – because you never really need the last four or five tortelli.
Imagine my astonishment, then, when a few nights ago I found The Blonde had attacked one of my emergency pasta packs and … wait for it … left exactly half of the contents for me.
Livid doesn’t even come close. I mean, is there anything more selfish than leaving precisely fifty per cent of the pasta? Let’s just say that stern words were exchanged, and she won’t make the same mistake again.*
Now this left me with a dilemma. The usual coating of oil or butter, and shower of ground pepper and parmesan would not suffice. So I bulked up the pumpkin pasta as best I could with a little fridge forage.
It turns out, thankfully, that if you take slithers of courgette and warm them just a little, it’s much like having extra pasta. Can’t believe no one’s commodified, over-hyped and commercialised that idea already …
More classically, a few sage leaves fried in browning butter elevates the pasta and turns what I’d ordinarily think of as too smaller bowl, into something that’s almost appropriate for a growing boy such as myself.
* Not technically true. She’d destroy me in a verbal. So I’m using the approach of all cowardly armchair critics, and have turned to the anonymity of the internet to voice my concerns rather than address them face to face.
Pimping pumpkin pasta
Controversially, probably serves two just fine
- 250g pumpkin filled pasta
- 2 courgettes
- 20 sage leaves
- 40g butter
- Sea salt, black pepper and parmesan
Get two medium to large saucepans out. Fill one with water, chuck in loads of sea salt and bring to the boil.
Use a potato peeler to peel long, thin strips off the courgettes. Work round each as if it has four sides, taking four strips off each side at a time (this means each strip will have nice green edges). Repeat until you meat the floury, spotted core). Pick 20 sage leaves.
When the water is on a rolling boil, put the pasta in. It’ll take just two to three minutes to cook to al dente (and will keep softening when draining). The pasta often starts to rise to the top when it’s ready. Drain the pasta in a colander, which you’ve place in the sink.
Just before you drain the pasta, put the butter in the other pan on a medium heat. When the butter’s frothing (probably just as you drain the pasta), throw in the sage leaves and let these cook in the browning butter for one to two minutes. Turn them over once.
With the sage crisping up and butter browning, add the courgette strips, toss in the butter, then turn off the heat. The courgettes will continue to soften in the residual heat of the pan. Then, collect the now drained pasta from the sink, tip it in the saucepan and toss again so all the pasta and courgettes are well coated.
Serve and season with plenty of ground black pepper and fresh parmesan.