The power of pasta!

As a teaser to our holiday in Sardinia I decided a birthday treat for my other half and a pre-holiday must, was a visit to the recently opened Padella in Borough Market. Having seen plenty of Instagram posts from refurb through to opening I was hooked on the idea of the pasta bar, accompanied by several tweets raving about how good the pasta was it made it a must on my ‘to visit’ list.

Another selling point for me was that chef and co-owner Tim Siadatan was one of the original intake at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen – I love Jamie’s food philosophies and am a huge fan of his italian dishes as they’re inspired by yet another great, Gennero Contaldo. It’s nice to see how the tradition of passing recipes down through an Italian family are mirrored in the world of chefs mastering pasta.

We were lucky and didn’t have to queue (I think at peak times you can expect to wait at least 30 minutes) and we got a front row seat! Watching the chefs prep the starters, the sauces and serve the pasta was mesmerising. Plus it certainly builds up your appetite watching other people’s dishes be prepared as well as make the decision to choose ten times harder as they all look so good!

After much deliberation over the menu we ordered, I went for the tagliarini with raw grated courgette, brown shrimp and chilli, while my trusty sidekick opted for parpadelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu. As we watched wide eyed and salivating, the chefs also served up plenty of knowledge on the subject of pasta.

They talked us through ingredients and how they opt for parmesan in their pici cacio e pepe even though there’s grate (excuse the pun!) debate as to whether it should be pecorino or parmesan and how they hand roll the pici pasta fresh every morning, sometimes having to close in the afternoons to roll some more.

Their skill and knowledge was inspiring – so much so that tonight I decided to try a version of my own using the method the pasta chef had talked me through of using just butter and pasta water for the sauce.

Ingredients (for 1 person)

  • Olive oil
  • 75g of pasta of your choice
  • 30g of pancetta cubes
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 50g of courgette, grated
  • Pecorino or parmesan
  • Butter
  • Save some pasta water!

Boil the water and lightly salt it ready for your pasta, I used fusilli lunghi and would recommend something similar like spaghetti. While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the pancetta, then add the mushrooms and once they’re nearly cooked grate some courgette into the pan and season with salt and pepper.

I grated some pecorino straight into the pan and then once my pasta was al dente I added it to the pan of ingredients.

Top tip: Rather than drain the pasta with a colander use a spaghetti spoon so it adds a little water as it goes.

Then add a knob of salted butter and a splash of pasta water. Stir it together until you get a lovely silky sauce. The chef told me how mixing the pasta with the butter and pasta water helped to release the starch and thicken the sauce – it works a treat. Fulli lunghi con funghi e pancetta

Once you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce, serve and season and grate a little extra pecorino on top – buonissimo!

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