Friday, April 27, 2007

Linguine with anchovy and broccoli

To niggle at someone's recipes twice seems a bit mean. Lots of recipes include points one might niggle at. I just happen to be a reader of the Guardian, for which Allegra McEvedy began writing recently. In my New Statesman column, I mentioned a dish that she, or the Guardian, advertised as requiring a preparation and cooking time of 35 minutes; it had so many ingredients, many of them to be chopped, that most people would have struggled to get just the preparation done in that time. This week, her recipe is linguine with anchovy and purple sprouting broccoli. You can read it here.

The problem now, I think, is that she tries to make it too straightforward, advising the use of just one saucepan. You boil the broccoli; you cook the pasta in the same water, and drain it; you fry the garlic and chilli, melt the anchovies, and reheat the broccoli in the same pan; you add the pasta and the toasted pine nuts.

Have you ever allowed pasta to sit in a colander for five minutes? It clumps together. The best way to keep it separate is to drain it, shake the colander a little to get rid of excess water, and immediately add the pasta to a sauce, or to oil or butter. Unless you have only one ring on your hob, or own only one saucepan, there is no reason why you should not prepare the sauce in another pan while the pasta is cooking; linguine and sauce are ready at the same time, and the linguine does not have time to clump.

The easiest way to toast pine nuts, I find, is not in the oven but in a dry pan over a gentle heat -- more washing up, I know -- on the hob. They burn easily; this way, you can keep an eye on them, and stir them about a bit.


pablopatito said...

I've been wondering about the environmental impact of certain cooking techniques recently, but haven't read anything about it (despite the Guardian being full of articles on saving the planet). How green is it, for example, to heat your oven to gas mark 4, and then keep it there for seven minutes just to toast 30g of pine nuts. I don't know how much gas my oven uses, so perhaps it is an insignificant amount, but I do wonder. I don't know if your interest in cooking extends to fuel efficiency?

Nicholas Clee said...

Only because I try to do things as straightforwardly as possible. I think that the Guardian recipe is a little too fuel efficient.