Words: Daniel Nowland
Right now we are being overwhelmed with the “rising cost of living”. This is likely to affect all of us in some way, whether it’s the cost of fuel, food, or domestic bills. With that in mind I wanted to touch on ways in which we can still eat very well, without having to shell out a lot of money. For me, the answer regularly lies in pasta!
Even if the cost of buying pre-made pasta has gone up, it is still likely to be a very affordable way of eating well. You also have the choice to save more money by making it yourself, or trade up to a more premium product, which is still economical. I now stock some incredible pasta in the deli which is made in Yorkshire! The wheat is from the North of England and the pasta is made by hand in Yorkshire, and quite honestly, it is the best dried pasta I’ve ever tasted.
The beauty of pasta is you have the ability to transform it into any type of meal from the ridiculously simple to the super extravagant. I would love to share with you a few of my favourite recipe ideas which cover all of these bases.
For a super simple dinner, cook 75g dried pasta per person (the best you can afford) and when cooked, toss with extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan and black pepper. To turn this into something more luxurious, drizzle with truffle oil and top with fresh rocket and yet more Parmesan.
For a cheap meaty option, squeeze the sausage meat out of a pack of quality pork sausages. Add the meat to a frying pan, along with a tablespoon of fennel seeds. Allow to cook low and slow for around 30 minutes, stirring and breaking up the lumps every now and then. Add a splash of good vinegar (or not so good wine), and allow to cook off. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes. By adding 300g pasta (dry weight), cooked and drained to the sausage pan, you will have a delicious dinner for four.
If, like me, you end up with random off cuts of vegetables in your fridge which run the risk of being wasted, these can create wonderful pasta dishes with a few simple tricks. I like to roughly chop leftover raw veg such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and kale. If you are low on these, you can throw in frozen veg such as peas or runner beans. I add these veg to the pasta water half way through the pasta cooking time. That way you can drain it all at once, and you only use one saucepan. Return the pan to a low heat, stir through some creme fraiche, grate in some lemon zest, seasoning, a cheese of your choice and top with a fresh herb such as mint or dill, and a little more cheese. Enjoy!