Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #13: Wonky Summer Pasta
This is our 13th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We went with “Wonky Summer Pasta, Herby Salad, and Pear Drop Tartlets.” We picked this recipe because we had tart cases left over from the Frangipane Tarts, and because I was carb-loading in preparation for a really long run. We hadn’t seen this particular episode, but upon Googling I found a dodgy site that let us watch it online. We felt like we had a good chance of bringing this one in under 30 minutes!
Substitutions: We used smoky bacon instead of pancetta, simply because it was easier to find. I bought a fancy bag of mixed salad greens at the Farmer’s Market rather than go for the watercress/rocket he used. We used strawberry jam instead of raspberry in the tarts. Other than that, everything else was as-written.
Quick verdict: Pretty nice! This is one of the easiest and quickest meals in the book. The pasta and the tarts didn’t turn out 100% fantastic, but we suspect those flaws were in our preparation rather than the recipe. (More on that in a minute.) The salad was a highlight for me, definitely one of the best in the book so far. Our elapsed time was 33:26 (fastest one yet!), and I think we could easily get this one down under 30 with practice. In terms of score, it’s hard to say. If we had done everything perfectly, it probably would have been an 8.5 or a 9 out of 10. Our actual preparation probably only merited a 7.5 or 8 out of 10 though. Read on for a photo essay of the preparation, including our mistakes!Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. We were excited to use a new attachment on the food processor: the egg whipping blade! The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 190C. We had a baking tray for the tarts and a big ceramic bowl for the pasta. We had a large pot filled with water on to boil for the pasta and a frying pan waiting for the bacon.
First up are the ingredients for the pasta: eggs, parmesan cheese, lemon, basil, and fresh lasagne sheets.
Next the bits for the salad: bacon, garlic, fennel seeds, salad greens, fresh mint, fresh tarragon, red/green grapes, balsamic vinegar, and lemon.
Now the ingredients for the tartlets: shortcrust pastry cases, strawberry jam, tinned pears, egg whites, sugar, vanilla, ice cream. NOTE: If we were smart, we would have blind-baked our pastry cases before starting. Ours were unbaked. Jamie’s were pre-baked. This would turn out to be a problem. If yours are unbaked, BAKE THEM FIRST.
Pots and pans! Big pot is about to be filled with water for the pasta. The frying pan is for the bacon.
The food processor, ready and waiting. The egg whipping blade is in first, but the grater disc will also be used.
And we’re off! You start with the tarts. Here I am blithely putting strawberry jam into the bottom of unbaked pastry cases. (This was never going to end well.)
Meanwhile the Snook has separated two eggs. The whites are now getting whipped in the food processor with sugar and salt.
I’ve removed the pear halves from the can and I’m now slicing them up.
The pear slices get arranged artfully on top of the jam. (I should also note that we have six small cases instead of the four bigger ones the recipe called for.)
The Snook works on the pasta sauce directly in the serving bowl. To his egg yolks he’s added extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Now he’s grating in the lemon zest before juicing the lemon. NOTE: The recipe calls for using the zest and juice of TWO lemons. Ours were pretty big, so he only used one. Our pasta still came out really sour.
I’ve got my smoky bacon sizzling on the stove now. Once it got crispy, we threw the fennel seeds in there as well.
Meanwhile, the meringue has finished so it’s time to plop it on the tartlets!
My finished meringues. I tried to make them all arty with bits sticking out the way Jamie did. These go into the hot oven for 6 minutes.
After a quick wash, the food processor is now put to use grating a hunk of parmesan.
The other crucial ingredient for the pasta is basil. Here the Snook is bashing half the bunch with a mortar and pestle.
And here’s the resulting little pile of squished up basil in the bowl (with the parmesan too). He also had to chop up half the basil and put that into the sauce as well.
The oven has dinged, so it’s time to take out the tarts! The meringues were nicely browned. This is the point where the Snook noted that the crusts looked totally raw though. We ended up putting them back in a low oven for a while in the hopes they’d firm up. (They didn’t.)
Finished salad! I didn’t get any photos of the assembly because it was so simple. Basically: dump greens in a bowl; tear in some fresh mint and tarragon; add a handful of halved green and red grapes. Put the now-crispy bacon and fennel seeds on top. The dressing is olive oil, bacon dripping, balsamic, lemon juice, salt & pepper mixed up in the little jar nearby.
The pasta is the last thing to happen. Here’s the Snook slicing into the rolled up lasagne sheets to make the wonky noodles.
The noodles get dropped into the pot of boiling water.
The Snook took a cue from Jamie on the episode and rested his pasta bowl on top of the boiling water to warm it.
Once the pasta is cooked, you have to work FAST! Here’s the Snook scooping it out of the water and tossing it into the waiting sauce.
Now he’s tossing the pasta with the sauce. You want it to be pretty loose and slurpy at this point, as the noodles will really suck up the liquid.
Here’s the finished pasta complete with extra parmesan and basil for garnish!
The completed meal of Wonky Summer Pasta and dressed Herby Salad.
And here is the completed dessert of Pear Drop Tartlet with vanilla ice cream. Note: It’s still in the tin. That’s because you couldn’t remove the tin because the dough was raw. We ended up scooping the jam/pear/meringue out of them and eating it that way.
Tasting notes: I’m not really sure what the point of cutting your own noodles is. (Quoth the Snook: “It’s a bit wank. Unless you’re cutting unusual shapes, it’s just silly.”) Fresh tagliatelle is just as available as lasagne sheets! We’ll use pre-cut next time. The finished pasta was really, really lemony. I actually liked that! The Snook felt it was too sour and had to add a fair bit of salt to counteract it. I’d recommend that you go easy on the lemon though, especially if yours are big or very sour. We both thought the salad was excellent, and the addition of the tarragon and mint really made it interesting. Also, grapes + bacon! Who doesn’t like the sound of that? The dessert was visually stunning but such a disappointment because of our error with the pastry. (We didn’t pre-bake them with the frangipane tarts, but those turned out okay, presumably because they bake for longer than the meringues.) I’d love to try it with the crusts all perfect and crispy. All in all, this was a simple and easy meal to throw together. The pasta was a nice alternative to carbonara, and the salad is unusual but not weird. It’s also pretty much the perfect meal for carb-loading before a big race! 🙂
Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!