Everyone has their own favourite spaghetti recipe. It is the go to dish for those evenings when you are feeling a little bit jaded and in need of some food love without too much effort involved. This is one of ours – it is eminently adaptable to whatever you have lying around in the vegetable drawer or in the garden but the thing is that it isn’t too heavy – no rich cream or too much cheese and so you can really enjoy it without too much guilt. If you really want to make it a dish worthy of a health halo then make half the amount of pasta and top that up with some courgetti or sweet potatotti or similar. But personally, I find that a bit of pasta now and then never did anyone any harm and it is a sure fire way to ensure a good nights sleep. Apparently carbohydrates do that.
A word on the use of swiss chard – you can replace this with spinach but the advantage of the chard is that it doesn’t contain nearly as much water as spinach and consequently what you put in the pan does cook down, but stays more intense and doesn’t release very much liquid.
If you do want to use spinach then put a lot of it in a colander, pour over a kettle full of boiling water and squeeze out a lot of excess liquid with the back of a wooden spoon. Then add it as per the recipe.
1 tablespoon rapeseed or light olive oil
1 small stick celery
Finely chopped oregano or a large pinch of dried provencal herbs
1 clove garlic
2 slices of unsmoked back bacon or streaky bacon
2 giant handfuls of swiss chard
1 small courgette or whatever you have lying around
a green pesto or any sort
1 ripe tomato, chopped, core removed
Parmesan to grate
Salt & pepper
150g dried spaghetti or other pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
Have a large pan of salted water on to boil while you get on with the sauce.
Finely chop the leek and celery. Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan and gently fry for a few minutes until soft, along with the herbs. I add a little water at this point to sort of fry/steam. This stops the veg colouring too much and once the water evaporates you are left with softened leeks and celery that haven’t absorbed so much oil. Now add the bacon and garlic and stir around until nicely browned and cooked.
Put the pasta on to boil for however long it says on the packet (normally around ten minutes). Chop up all the chard and put in the pan, stalks first if you can but it’s not crucial. Cook for a few minutes until well softened. Drain your pasta and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Add a couple of tablespoons of this to the pan with the chard etc in it and stir around. Add the pasta and then grate in the courgette using a coarse grater. Then add the tomato, as much pesto as you like and season well. Soften off with a bit more cooking liquid and pile into big warmed bowls, drizzle with extra virgin oil and eat with a good grating of parmesan.
A green salad made from leaves and avocado is good with this.