Food that is full of flavour, but quick and kind on the budget – that’s exactly the thing I love to eat mid-week and this pasta dish is perfect.
First, lets talk flavour – olives, pancetta (or bacon is a fine alternative) are an awesome combo accompanied by tomatoes and some nice fresh basil. No basil in the house? Parsley is fine too, or even some baby spinach leaves.
The best thing about this is it’s something everyone can whip together as long as you have some form of pasta in the cupboard, tomatoes (canned or fresh), some form of bacony meat (pancetta, bacon, even some ham or salami would work really well) and some fresh herbs or other greenery. Even the olives are optional – although I think they are the highlight of this dish. I used huge green pitted olives which I sliced – but you could use kalamata olives, or even black ones – whatever is handy.
As for price and time – I think you can see it’s not something that’s going to take ages to cook – including prep, absolutely no more than 20 minutes. There’s very few ingredients and flexibility to use up what you have in the fridge – so in the cost stakes, it’s very economical too.
Ok, enough convincing – more recipe writing!
Super-quick pasta with pancetta, olives and basil
250gm of dried pasta (I used spirals, but anything goes)
1/2 a cup of cubed pancetta (or three middle bacon rashers sliced, or even the same amount of salami would work well too)
3 spring onion stalks, chopped (or a small onion, peeled and chopped)
200gm of green olives, pitted and sliced (these are optional or you can use whatever olives you have around)
1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes (or the equivalent of fresh)
1/4 cup of white wine (only if you have it)
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn (or parsley or spinach leaves would work well too)
Freshly ground pepper
Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil – and add two teaspoons of salt. Bring to the boil and add your pasta. Cook as per packet directions.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large fry pan, add the pancetta (or whatever meat product you choose) and cook for two minutes until browning. Add the spring onion (or onion) along with the tomatoes and wine (if using) and bring up to a brisk simmer. Season with pepper and allow to cook.
Drain your pasta and add it top the sauce, along with the olives and fresh herbs. Stir through and allow to simmer for a minute or two to allow the sauce to stick to the pasta. If it looks a little dry, add some water until you are happy with the consistency.
Serve immediately with some garlic bread and a salad, if you can be bothered making one.
Can I freeze it?: Sure can – in an air-tight container for up to three months. Thaw before re-heating for best results. You may need to add some water while re-heating, as freezing can make the sauce go dry.