4 February 2014

Experimenting with Trofie pasta ....

I didn't set out to experiment with Trofie pasta, but it just turned out that way.  I was planning the week's meals and wanted a pasta meal.  I'm a bit bored with all the "something and bacon" or "leek and something" or "something in tomato sauce" pastas that we've had lately (well, you'd know if you've been following along on the blog's Facebook page!  *wink*) when I remembered that useful substance that is pesto.

I hasten to explain, that I was also looking for an easy pasta dinner.  I am just so fed up with meals that take for EVER to cook and mean I spend the whole day - in instalments - in the kitchen thrashing around, washing up, getting over it, doing it all over again - you get the picture.

So having remembered pesto, I had a quick peek on the Asda's online shopping website to see what types were available to us and decided upon their Ricotta and Red Pepper pesto.  It sounded rather less aggressive than other red pesto (sundried tomato can be a bit caustic on the tummy) and I just didn't want to go for the green in this instance.  I noticed that the label made mention of the fact that it hailed originally from Liguria in Italy.

I knew we didn't have any pasta in the cupboard that would be suitable for pesto, so had a look - well, I was there already - on the website for something suitable to put on the shopping list.  Lo and behold, there was one which hailed originally from Liguria!  Well, it had to be done.  So now you know how come we wound up with Trofie pasta.

Trofie is very cute, being small pieces of pasta dough that have been rolled on a small dowelling to make an interesting shape that is tapered - a bit like a tiny, straight, croissant.  When they cook - and they take a bit longer than the normal 9-10 minutes - they wind up a little chewy, with the thicker part - in the middle - remaining al dente.  This is not the sort of pasta to throw down in a hurry because you have to be out soon!

Now, I had pasta, I had pesto - but pesto and pasta doth not a dinner make.  At least, not in our house.  I pondered on what meat to use and after quite a bit of consideration, decided on gammon.  I reckoned that a couple of gammon steaks, cooked in the slow cooker (easy peasy) and flaked into the pasta would work.

Hmmn, what about veggies?   Had to include some veggies - it's just not proper otherwise.  Mushrooms were a definite - lightly fry some mushrooms off while the pasta cooked.  Yup, that'd work.  No need for onion or garlic, as it's all in the pesto.  I had a half a jar of griddled red and yellow peppers that were in olive oil, so they could be sliced and added too.  Sounds like a plan!

Well, it all worked very nicely.  While the pasta was cooking, I got on with the mushrooms, then added the gammon, sliced peppers and pesto to warm through.  I added a couple of ladlefuls of the pasta water (so make sure not to over salt it!) just to let the pesto down a little and once the pasta was drained, mixed the contents of the two pans together and we were ready for the off.

Son and heir really hates olives, so I plated up his portion and threw a handful of olives into the remainder for hubby and I.  Some parmesan cheese on top finished the dish.

The verdict?  It was really rather scrummy.  I think it would go nicely with gnocchi as well as the Trofie pasta - and can see the Trofie pasta being really good with a tuna/lemon combination in the summer.

As an easy to prepare, tasty, comforting dish - it absolutely hit the spot.  Can't ask for more than that!


Ingredients :

550g gammon steaks
sufficient stock to cover
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
300g Trofie pasta
1-2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
5-6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
half a jar of griddled peppers, sliced
300g red pepper & ricotta pesto
a handful of green olives, rinsed and halved (optional).

Method :

1.  Pour the stock into your slow cooker and switch to full.  Add the bay leaves and a good pinch of pepper, then lay the gammon steaks in.  Close the lid and leave to cook for 5 hours.  At the end of the cooking time, remove from the slow cooker and flake, taking care to remove all the fat.

2.  Fill a large pan with water and add a small pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and add the pasta - cook according to packet instructions.  When cooked, drain - but retain some of the cooking water.

3.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the mushrooms until just softened.  Add the flaked gammon, sliced peppers and pesto.  Stir to combine - if the mixture is a bit stiff, add a ladleful of the pasta water to let it down until it becomes saucy.  Keep the mixture on a low temperature until the pasta is ready.

4.  When the pasta has been drained, return it to the saucepan and add the contents of the frying pan and the olives if you're using them.  Toss to combine and add a little more pesto if required, or a little more of the hot pasta water, depending on your preference.

5.  Serve into hot bowls and add some grated cheddar cheese or parmesan (to your preference).  Tuck in!

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