I always mean to plan the following week’s meals at the weekend and buy all the ingredients so that tea in the week involves the minimum possible amount of stress. What usually happens though, is this:
Chris: “What’s for tea?”
Me: “Umm… I’ll see what we have in the fridge”
Now, we usually at least have a supply of my “back-up” foods: bacon, courgette, and passata. We also always have a stack of pasta, so a bacon pasta can be thrown together whenever I’m not feeling very inspired. But one day, we didn’t have any of my back-up ingredients. In fact, we didn’t really have anything at all except half a tub of mascarpone (the other half had been used for cakes ), some ham I’d bought with the intention of getting up early enough to make my own lunch (didn’t happen), and some mushrooms. “Hmm”, I thought, “I really don’t want to go to the supermarket”. I turned to my cookbook collection for help. I picked up the pasta bible and searched through the index for mascarpone. “Ooo”, I said (I often talk out loud to no-one at all), “ham and mascarpone pasta. I wonder what’s in that”. Ham and mascarpone, it turns out (I know, it was a shock to me too). And not a lot else. It’s such a simple idea I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it myself. I added the mushrooms, obviously. And today I added courgette. I might have mentioned I do this to everything.
Ham and mascarpone pasta
Adapted from the Pasta Bible by Jeni Wright
olive oil, to fry
1 large shallot, chopped
125g mushrooms, sliced
1 small courgette (optional), sliced
3 slices good quality ham (I used gammon ham), cut into bite-size pieces
black pepper, to season
1 tbsp parmesan, plus extra to serve
In a wok or large pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat and fry the shallots for 3-4 minutes until soft. You can put the pasta on to cook at this point. Add the mushrooms and courgette and fry until the mushrooms have softened. Add the mascarpone and the ham so the mascarpone melts and the ham heats through. Season with black pepper and add the parmesan. Stir well. Toss with the cooked pasta and serve with parmesan.