I am not entirely certain whether my love for all things Italian has anything to do with my love for Nigella Lawson, but I dream of pasta! Pasta of all shapes and sizes, with thick creamy sauces or meaty sauces or stuffed with cheeses!! Oh my… my mouth is watering already. Not sure how I will get through this post.
Well… I have a confession to make. I made spaghetti last night and I have the bowl of leftovers at my side as we speak (or write!) Just for a little bit of inspiration, yummm… so I guess I will find the motivation to keep going on 🙂
Sad thing is that Mr. Mazhar doesn’t like pasta very much. This might have to do something with the fact that he keeps confusing Italian pasta dishes with Chinese noodle dishes. So I thought his taste-buds were calling out for some much needed culinary discipling! And as the dutiful wife I took it upon myself to feed him pasta, the right kind, authentic Italian, rich on flavor and calories!!
Most of the cooking shows I have seen state quite clearly that the Italians like their pasta a bit more al-dente than the rest of the world. I can’t speak from experience as I have only ever had pasta outside of Italy so I’ll be honest to tell you that I usually cook my pasta a minute or two over the time marked on the box. Be sure to take a piece or strand out, run it under a cold tap and give it a chew after 7-8 minutes and you will figure out with experience whether it needs a minute or more to get to where you like it.
Since I became a super fan of Masterchef Australia (which was in 2010) I have not used store-bought pasta sauce. I make my own blend and it tastes absolutely amazing, not to say fresh and vibrant. The one thing to know about pasta sauces is which ingredients work well together and are the most flavorsome. For example, nothing beats the classic combination of tomato and basil. Add in a few shallots and garlic and your mouth will be bursting at the seams with the rush of flavors! This is my absolute favorite pasta sauce. But I do like my creamy mushroom sauce as well. That is a slightly different take on a recipe of Nigella’s called Mushrooms on Toast (although that tastes amazing too). I teamed it up with pasta to get a wonderful result. But last night, I made my tomato-basil sauce, heaped it high on my pile of wonderfully slippery spaghetti and wiped my plate clean. Usually I add my meat on top of the sauce but I wanted to keep them separate in case Mr. Mazhar’s taste-buds refused to be disciplined. I wasn’t going to make another diner for him. So I decided to serve my dish buffet style where you can “make your own plate”. As it turns out Mazhar really liked my version of Italian pasta and wouldn’t mind trying it again, which I think is a big win for me! We have had to pass on some very good Italian restaurants on our eating out nights because he doesn’t like pasta.
Although, I would like to take all the credit for getting Mr. Mazhar to appreciate Italian cuisine, I have to admit that when he was forced to sit through a re-run of Masterchef Australia – Season 4 with me, he really enjoyed the episodes where the top 10 contestants are taken to Italy and said he wouldn’t mind trying out Italian cuisine after all. He especially enjoyed seeing Antonio Carluccio on the show! A couple of days later, he was on a business call and happened to see a DVD of Antonio Carluccio in his client’s office. When he asked the client about it, the guy said his wife was absolutely in love with Carluccio (she is Italian) and if she could, she would have married him instead of this guy. Bonus for me was that the client mentioned to Mazhar that Antonio has a restaurant in Abu Dhabi and even gave him a coupon to enjoy one complimentary main course when ordering one main course… I am over the moon about this. And I will be sure to share my experience at Carluccio’s when we have dinner there, In Shaa Allah! I can’t wait!!
I love pasta!