Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, pancetta & courgette

This tasted very Italian and wonderful. Tomatoes, courgettes, basil and oregano all from my own garden. Fresh pasta from Waitrose, bacon from the butcher’s in the North End road market,

Ingredients

250g fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small courgettes, chopped into small pieces
200g of pancetta or smoked bacon cubed
250 fresh spaghetti
1 fresh red chilli
1 shallot
1 garlic clove
handful of basil
handful of oregano
pecorino or parmesan, shavings

Preheat oven to 220C. Arrange the cherry tomatoes densely on a tray and sprinkle with olive oil. Season. Roast for 15-20 mins so the tomatoes are soft but do not fall apart.

In the meantime, chop finely the garlic, shallot and chilli, fry in a little bit of olive oil for 2-3 mins. Add the pancetta and fry for another 2-3 mins, finally add the courgettes cooking them till they are soft.

Boil water, put the pasta in, bring to boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain. In a large bowl combine the pasta with tomatoes (don’t forget the juices from the tray), pancetta and courgettes. Add fresh oregano and basil leaves. Serve with shavings of parmesan or pecorino and good Chianti.

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Noodle, chicken and aubergine coconut laksa

This is a summer favourite, tasty, filling but still light despite the coconut milk. I found it a few years ago in delicious magazine. The key for this dish is timing and preparation. It’s worth it.

Ingredients:
Serves 4
Ready in about 40 minutes

1/2 x 250g pack dried medium rice noodles (if you can’t find medium rice noodles, use ready-to-stir-fry rice noodles and add directly to the laksa in step 3.
1 medium aubergine halved lengthways and cut into 5mm slices
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste (I use Mae Ploy red curry paste, which is robust and perfect for this dish)
400 ml can reduced-fat coconut milk (my local Waitrose use to sell it, it can be hard to find so full fat has to do sometimes)
600 ml hot chicken stock
4 small skinless chicken breasts
1 lemongrass stalk bruised
150g sugar snap peas halved lengthways
1/2 tsp soft brown sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lime plus extra lime wedges to serve
good handful of fresh basil leaves

1. In a wide bowl, cover the noodles with boilidng water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften. Drain, refresh in cold water and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Put the aubergine on a baking tray, brush with the oil and season with salt. Grill for 4-5 minutes each side, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
3. Stir-fry the curry paste in a large pan or wok over a medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and lemongrass, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Lift out the chicken with a slotted spoon and shred (I use two forks to do this, just like you see waiters in chinese restaurants shred crispy duck.)
4. Return the chicken to the pan with the sugar snaps and aubergine. Simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in the noodles, sugar, zest and juice, and most of the basil and heat through. Season and ladle into bowls. Garnish with lime wedges and the remaining basil leaves.

Wine note: A Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc goes well with this as does Australian Viognier.