If you've been following me over on Instagram, you may already know that I signed on with Plum Books and will be releasing my very first cookbook in September this year. It's all written and we've nearly finished shooting every single recipe. It is looking so beautiful and I really cannot wait to share it with you all. Keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for details about events in Melbourne and Sydney to celebrate the book's release.
It is also the reason why I haven't been so active here on the blog, as I've been writing, testing, cooking and editing most days for the last few months. I promise though, I'm officially back, ready to share more recipes. Today I thought it would be lovely to share a recipe for one of my favourite pasta dishes. Adapted from the very first cookbook I ever bought, way back when I was 12 or 13. It's called 'Two Easy' by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers from the famed River Cafe in London. I poured over this book and studied all of the details. It influenced my cooking very much. Simple but always extremely delicious.
This pasta sauce is made with mostly pantry ingredients and is really big on flavour. It has been my staple these last few weeks as I've needed something rather quick to make in between shooting days that is both satisfying and easy. I've tweaked it ever so slightly, but the spirit of the dish remains in tact. Be sure to get good quality dried pasta, a little goes a long way. At the moment I'm loving the Martelli brand – they come in 1kg packets and are bright yellow with black writing.
40g dried porcini
Extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x 400g tin of really good quality whole peeled tomatoes, such as San Marzano
Small handful of basil leaves
320g dried short pasta such as rigatoni, maccheroni, penne
1tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Parmesan, to serve
1. First, soak the porcini in 200ml of boiling water for ten or so minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Rinse the porcini and roughly chop. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce by warming a generous glug of olive oil in a small pan over a low-medium heat. Gently fry half of the garlic and before it begins to colour, add in the tomatoes. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the basil then continue to simmer for 10 or so minutes, until thick. Season to taste and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt generously. Throw in the pasta and cook for 1-2 minutes less than stated on the packet.
4. While the pasta is cooking. Heat the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. When foaming, add in the garlic and stir for a minute or two to gently cook. Add the chopped porcini along with a few large spoonfuls of the reserved porcini soaking liquid. When the liquid has been mostly absorbed, add in the parsley and stir to coat. The sauce should be luxurious and silky. Add in some of the tomato sauce, around 3/4 of it and simmer for a minute or two until all combined. You can add more or less of the tomato, depending on your taste. Any left over can be simply stored in the fridge for another use.
5. When the pasta is almost al dente, strain the pasta, reserving the pasta water, and transfer to the pan with the sauce. Stir to coat, adding a little pasta water, to help loosen the sauce. Continue to simmer, just for a minute or two, until the pasta is al dente. Season to taste and serve immediately with grated parmesan if you like.