Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Umami pasta

This is a fairly simple and quick pasta meal, which aims for as much umami flavour as possible without tomato, the usual source in a pasta sauce!

Serves 2

chorizo (the partly raw kind, for cooking), about two inches long
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
handful of olives & capers
curly kale (optional), two handfuls
a couple of dried mushrooms
1 anchovy
2 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika paste (or powder if you can't get the paste)
1 tbsp harissa paste
fresh thyme (or marjoram or oregano)
Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp beetroot vinegar (vinegar from a jar of pickled beetroot)
Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste
salt, pepper

Boil a kettle full of water. Pour enough hot water to cover the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Set aside for 30 mins or until the mushrooms are soft. Add more hot water if necessary. Chop and pound the anchovy and mix it in with the paprika paste, harissa and Worcestershire sauce.

Chop the chorizo, shallot and garlic. Fry the chorizo in a frying pan which has a lid, and is big enough to take these ingredients and the kale. When it starts to brown, add the shallot, stir for a minute or two, then add the chopped or pressed garlic. Turn to a low heat, and add the thyme. Take the dried mushrooms out of the water (keeping the water) and chop finely. Throw in the mushrooms with the chorizo, shallot, garlic and thyme. Chop the olives and capers and add them too.

Cook the pasta, following the instructions on the packet (minus 20-25% of the suggested cooking time). After the pasta starts cooking, add the kale to the chorizo pan, replace the lid and allow to steam. Drain the pasta well when al dente (reserving a little pasta water) and set aside. Rinse out the pan and return to a very low heat.

Mix together the mushroom water, paprika paste, beetroot vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, and mix well. Pour into the now empty pasta pan and warm gently.

Stir the pasta back into pan with the paprika sauce. Ideally, there is enough sauce to coat all of the pasta, without any liquid remaining. Add a little pasta water if necessary. Remove from the heat. Add the grated parmesan and mix in thoroughly, trying to coat all of the pasta with it. Mix in the chorizo and kale mixture and serve immediately.

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