Spaghetti with Red Onions, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar and Basil, from ‘The Return of The Naked Chef’ – Cooking the Books, week 12

We’re running behind again! So a quick little recipe to catch us up today. This is a great little store cupboard dish, quick, simple, satisfying and tasty. Vintage Jamie Oliver, in other words!

To serve two –

  • Pasta ingredients~200g of good quality dried spaghetti (I used linguini, since it was what I had)
  • 1 small red onion
  • A large handful of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (probably about 8 – 10 pieces)
  • A handful of fresh basil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan or pecorino, to serve

To make this extra special, you could serve it with fresh home-made roasted garlic and rosemary bread!

Get a big pan of well salted water boiling briskly, and start cooking your pasta. I’m a big advocate of buying proper Italian dried pasta – it’s a classic example of where spending your money on upgrading ‘basics’ pays massive dividends in terms of quality. The difference between cheap own-brand supermarket pasta and good dried pasta will only be a pound or so, and the difference in eating quality is really significant. Try it if you don’t believe me!

Cook gently in frying panIn a frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil. Chop your red onion reasonably chunky, and fry this gently until soft, sweet, and just taking a little bit of colour. After about five minutes, add the sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped, and about a tablespoon and a half of the balsamic vinegar, and warm through. Add the basil just before the pasta.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the frying pan with the onions, tomatoes and basil, season (you may not need extra salt as there will be some with the tomatoes) and mix through well. Serve, sprinkled with a little grated cheese.

And serve!

This is really solid, simple, 10-minute supper fare. It tastes great, too – there’s sort of a deconstructed-pesto feeling about it. You could add a little handful of chopped black olives, if you wanted, or a little pancetta (cooked in the pan with the onions) or parma ham if the lack of meat worries you, but I think it’s great as it is!

**
Return Naked Chef - coverThe Return of the Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver
Penguin Books, 2002 (first published in 2000, this has since been reprinted in 2010 with a new cover and an increased RRP of £16.99)
ISBN 978-0-140-29261-6
Soft cover, 288 pages, full colour. RRP £12.99.

[Full disclosure: This is my book, which I bought. I have received no payment or sponsorship for this post, nor have I accepted a review copy. I do not have an amazon affiliate account and do not profit from any links provided.]

Return Naked Chef - inside viewWhat’s to say about this little book that I didn’t already cover with my review of the original ‘Naked Chef’ a few weeks back? Well, it’s much the same sort of beast, really. But that’s not to say that it’s in any sense redundant. My feeling, leafing through this book looking for something to cook, is that it’s very much a ‘summer’ book – full of lovely fresh salads, pasta dishes, and BBQ ideas.

The Italian flavour is very obvious again, but then that’s expected. But as well as the pasta and risotto dishes, there are plenty of roast meat and fish ideas – all full of simple, clean flavours, and which would be wonderful when the fresh ingredients are in season from the garden!

‘Cooking the Books’ is my self-imposed blog challenge for 2014 – I’ll be trying to cook a new recipe from one of my (rather extensive!) collection of cookbooks once a week, write it up and review it. Wish me luck!

Read more from the Country Skills blog >>

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