Tonight I made this quick and easy mushroom, bacon, leek and rocket pappardelle in honour of the ‘godfather’ of Italian cuisine and fungi fan, Antonio Carluccio, who died today. It’s pretty simple – taking all of about 15 minutes to make – but then all the best Italian food is.
In general I’m averse to chains, but while living in London I spent a fair amount of time at Carluccio’s – the food was good, and the restaurants avoided the tacky look and feel of so many of the city’s numerous chains. When I first started going, always with the same good friend, I don’t think I even realised it was a chain, and I probably wouldn’t have known who Antonio Carluccio was. My friend and I would walk down to Carluccio’s in Ealing Broadway, where she lived, and have long boozy lunches that almost always involved a bottle (okay, two) of rose and the sea bass with crispy potatoes. I had worked at an Italian food store for a couple of years before university, so probably thought I knew a thing or two about that country’s cuisine, and today it’s my favourite to cook and to eat out.
Carluccio wrote something like 18 cookbooks, including A Passion for Pasta, with its wonderfully cheesy cover featuring the godfather joyfully cradling an enormous wheel of cheese filled with pasta.
Serves 2 with leftovers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
5 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
300g pappardelle (use the fresh pasta recipe in Carluccio and Contaldo’s Two Greedy Italians, or use store-bought; the Countdown ‘Gold’ brand one is surprisingly good I think)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
couple of handfuls mushrooms (I used brown button, but you could definitely be more adventurous), sliced
1 zucchini, cut into ribbons with a peeler
large handful of rocket
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, to serve
parmesan, to serve
handful of Italian parsley leaves, to serve
Put a large pot of boiling water on to boil.
While it heats, put the olive oil in a frying pan and when it’s glistening, add the leek and bacon. Cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes until the leek has softened and the bacon is golden.
When the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and pappardelle. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes for fresh pasta (this will depend on thickness though so keep testing it) or according to packet instructions. Drain and reserve about an eighth of a cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.
Add the garlic and mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is cooked but not browned and the mushrooms have softened slightly. Add the mushroom mixture to the pasta along with the cooking water, zucchini ribbons, rocket and salt and pepper, and stir through.
Serve with lashings of olive oil, grated parmesan and Italian parsley.