SUMMER ON A PLATE Pasta with, lemon, crème fraiche and green vegetables combine for a delicious light meal.
Summer evenings lend themselves to easy pasta dishes, simple and effective communal meals that can bring people and conversations together.
I learnt my first real appreciation of Italian food from Angelo Forcini, who opened La Bella Vita restaurant on Westport’s High Street with his partner, Anneli, back in the early noughties.
Angelo pan-fried shellfish with garlic and tomatoes to draw a mineral flavor from the shells in oil. There was always a hint of chili knocking around. Fresh fish came simply cooked, but with classic combinations, butter and sage. The pastas were always cooked in well-salted water and vigorous boiling, with an array of tasty, seductive sauces.
Tomato-based sauces had a deep, unctuous, quality from the onions, garlic, carrot and tomatoes simmering over time. Cream-based sauces were reduced and seductively matched shellfish. The sauces and cooked pasta were always mixed well together in deep frying pans and cooked on for another minute to allow the flavours to mingle with the cooked pasta – some extra salty water from the pasta is always carried over for this last bit.
Angelo passed away nearly 15 years ago. His was a life well lived, for which can give thanks. Here are some past dishes that I believe he might have enjoyed.
Linguine with beef strips
This is a great way to enjoy quality strips of beef while not overloading your body.
What you need
- 275g linguine pasta
- 350g lean beef cut into thin strips
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
- A good glug of good-quality olive oil
- 400g tomatoes, tinned or fresh
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 glass red wine
- Bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
What you do
To make the tomato sauce start by cooking onion and garlic together over a medium heat in olive oil for about three to four minutes. Do not allow them to ‘brown’; slow cooking to soft translucency is the aim. Add the celery and carrot for depth of flavour, and cook for another three minutes.
Now add the beef strips and stir-fry for three minutes till browned. Tip in the tomato puree and cook for two minutes while stirring. Now add the wine and tomatoes, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 45 minutes while stirring occasionally.
You have the classic ingredients for a good, rich sauce there. Cook your pasta and tip it into the sauce with the chopped basil, mix well and cook on for a further two minutes. Serve out in bowl plates with freshly ground black pepper, salt and fresh Parmesan.
Vegetable penne with creamy lemon
Lemon is an often forgotten essential ingredient in Italian cooking. Here it is used a simple bedfellow with crème fraiche to bring together soft pasta with attractive green vegetables.
What you need
- 200g penne or orecchiette pasta
- 1 lemon, finely grated zest
- 50g crème fraiche
- 150g spinach leaves, chopped
- 150g broccoli florets
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- Pinch chili flakes
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 20g parmesan, finely grated
- ½ vegetable stock cube, crumbed
What you do
Begin by starting to cook the pasta in well-salted boiling water. In a deep frying pan over medium heat cook the shallots, garlic and chili in oil for two minutes. Add the crumbed vegetable stock, pour in half a glass of pasta water, add the greens and cook for five minutes while stirring occasionally. Add more water if required as you need. Add the drained pasta now and cook over high heat for a minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in the crème fraiche with lemon zest. Lift out with a ladle and fork into round bowls. Serve with salad or crusty breads.
The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.