Monday, 22 July 2013

Penne Arrabbiata

A new Italian restaurant had been opened to the nearby village of Arroyo de la Miel. It looked fresh, contemporary and inviting. The food, however, was depressingly mediocre. In all honesty it wasn't surprising, because while the traditional tapas bar here are an absolute delight, they really don't seem to get any other kind of restaurants right. That is why the restaurants like Manzanilla in Malaga that produce innovative dishes with a modern take on things are such a delight.

"In the main street, sandwiched between two 'English breakfast served all day long'- tourist hell holes  - what did you expect?" The Gentleman pointed out. Yeah... but I just was in the mood for Italian!

Italian cuisine is all about simplicity. Quality ingredients that don't require any gimmicks. Traditions that speak for themselves. Genuine respect for food and joy resulting from sharing it.

Pasta dishes are particularly close to my heart. In Italy they are not smothered in mountains of creamy sauce hoping to compensate for the poor execution. One of the simplest dishes is Penne Arrabbiata, but even this wasn't particularly good in Arroyo.

Pasta is one of my all-time favourites. I can tell you that at least in this foodblogger's kitchen doesn't get to witness any culinary acrobacy on daily basis - when I'm feeling really lazy I take a short cut with even this dish  and cook some penne, toss in a generous tablespoon of butter, another one of tomato concentrate, a finely sliced garlic clove and equally finely chopped half a chili. And some good chorizo, should I have some lyinig around. Which I usually do. Salt, black pepper, sprinkling of parmesan... and hey presto!

But if you do have roughly half an hour to spare, there are worse ways to spend it. You can also (especially in the winter) use good tinned tomatos. But if you make this with regular tomatos, their skin is so much thicker and tougher that it's best to blanch them first. Cut a cross-shape incision on top of tomatos, dump them in boiling water for about 10 seconds, remove and let cool- This way the skin practically peels itself off.

And of course you can make this without any meat. I'm just a firm believer of chorizo making (almost) everything more cheerful.

For 3 (or 2 very generous portions)

3 portions of  penne (à  75-100 g)

500 g ripe cherry tomatos
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1,5 chilli
50 g quality chorizo or Italian salami (charcuterie kind, the sliced variety)
1 tsp sugar
salt, black pepper

a couple of handfuls of basil leaves or parsley

Chop the chorizo/salami and fry in a pan. Finely chop onion, garlic and chilli and add into the pan - add some good olive oil as needed and sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Cut the cherry tomatos in half and add. Cook over moderate heat until the sauce has reduced to your liking - 25-35 minutes. There's no need to add liquid, the juice from the tomatos should be enough. Add sugar, stir and season with salt and pepper. And with a knob of butter.

Cook penne according to the instructions on the packet. Toss into the sauce and fold in the herbs before serving.



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