Friday 9 March 2012

Fast food - pastina in brodo

Raw ingredients - carrot, courgette, celery, leek, shallot for patina in brodo

Food is rarely fast. From the time it takes to physically get to the shops, purchase your provisions, take them home, pack them away, decide what you are going to eat, clean, chop and prepare - to the moment you put it in the pan and start cooking and not forgetting the washing and clearing up - all involves, time, organisation and a certain dedication. The drudgery never makes it onto our TV screens fantasy features of 30 minutes dinners, or Simple Suppers. Its no wonder that food technology has developed the myriad of fast convenience foods to beguile and coerce us into taking a quicker route to food satisfaction.

Food is really about priorities. Do you prioritise time in the kitchen over time in front of the TV? Get rid of the TV - no really, save the TV license fee and invest it in a couple of good stainless steel saucepans and a sharp knife. Watch TV on your computer when you want to - rather than follow the dictates of multinational organisations that control the schedule of programming for maximum returns on their invested advertising revenue.

Time spent listening to the radio, or talking with a loved one as you commune over the scraping, peeling and scrubbing and fight over who gets to do the sexy cooking bits as opposed to being the kitchen hand. Cooking, like gardening or any artisan labour gives your mind an opportunity to wonder - so productive time cooking is also productive time thinking. What started out as a drudgery becomes a liberation.

When I was little and on rare occasions poorly and had the good fortune to have a day off school, my mother would offer me pastina in brodo for lunch. The broth was often nothing more complicated than a vegetable stock cube but with the addition of some freshly grated Parmesan the soup became a salty comforting balm for a fevered brow. This is my take on that and requires a little more time but the stock cube is more than fine if you prefer.

Pastina in Borodo - serves 2
1 shallot finely chopped and 3 sticks of celery grated - slowly softened in some olive oil.
Add in turn 1 leek finely sliced, 1 carrot grated and allow to sweat in the pan -  add a good splosh of white wine, if you have it, or plain water - enough to create a strong broth. When the carrots has begun to soften add 1 courgette grated. Meanwhile put another small pan of water on to boil - when water is boiling add salt and approx 40g of Stellete pasta per person. When the pasta is cooked drain but reserve some of the water in a jug, add the pasta to the cooked vegetables - which should still be bright with a bit of bite, add a little olive oil to taste. Serve in warmed bowls and add as much liquid as you like and a grate of Parmesan.

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