[A]: Some dishes become so regular in the kitchen that you don’t think twice before cooking them. It often happens with me. Then there comes a point where it is overtaken by some other dish and you fail to notice that your favourite dish has changed. So before it gets replaced by some other dish, I thought I should pen down the recipe for my current favourite.
The recipe is for 2 portions and it takes about an hour to prepare and cook.
1 large brown onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 400g tin of peeled plum Italian tomatoes
1 tbsp dried marjoram (or oregano)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
8 meatballs made from sausage meat. I use Italian sausages as they are packed with herbs. Beef meatballs are also a good substitute.
2 portions of tagliatelle (as recommended on the packet)
Greens (cut to long strands as thick as the tagliatelle) – I prefer to choose some robust seasonal greens – spring green, savoy cabbage leaves, brussels sprout leaves or curly kale.
1 tsp ground peppercorn
1/2 tsp sea salt
Parmigiano Reggiano for seasoning
Optional: Add a handful of boiled butterbeans for added flavour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the meatballs in a baking tray and place in the oven for 20 minutes. The meat on the surface of the meatballs would have started to change colour by this time. Take out of the oven and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
While the meatballs were getting cooked in the oven, in a sturdy pan warm the olive oil. Place the chopped onions on the warm oil and cook in medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Make sure the onions have softened but not browned. Lower the heat if you notice the onions going brown. Add the crushed garlic cloves and stir for a minute.
Now add the contents of the tomato can and bring the liquid to simmer gently. At this point add the marjoram and leave the liquid to simmer till it gains the sauce consistency you prefer for the pasta. Add the salt and peppercorn powder, mix well and leave the sauce warm but not simmering.
In a separate sauce pan bring some water to boiling. Add a couple of drops of olive oil in the water followed by the tagliatelle. Boil for 4 minutes. Then add the greens and boil for another 4 minutes. Strain the contents immediately using a colander.
Pour the contents of the colander back on the empty sauce pan followed by the rich tomato sauce, boiled butterbeans and meatballs. Toss till everything mixes well. This needs to be done quickly so that the pasta doesn’t overcook.
All that remains to do now is divide into equal portions on plates. Sprinkle the cheese on top along with a bit more of ground black peppercorn if you prefer.
This is quite a satisfying meal – almost a comfort food. It goes well with a full bodied red wine like Chianti Classico.