Is the World Cup impacting your life? Or holiday plans? I usually ignore football, but one week in and it keeps getter harder. Normally I arrive home, and make dinner with my lovely husband in a leisurely way, while we chat and catch up. Now, as the World Cup games start at 6PM, 9PM and midnight Rome time, there are brief windows to cook and eat at half time or between games, so quick simple meals are required. Here, we had pasta with fresh figs, blue cheese, pancetta, walnuts and basil.
Half-time pasta with fresh figs, blue cheese, pancetta, walnuts and basil
400 grammes pasta of your choice
50 grammes pancetta, diced (optional)
5-6 fresh figs, halved
5-6 walnuts, shelled
100 grammes blue cheese
Handful of fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Boil the pasta in salted water. In the meantime, if including pancetta, bacon or such: dice the pancetta and fry it until crispy. Then move to a small plate covered with paper towel, so that soaks up some of the grease. Leave a little pancetta fat in the frying pan, you will use it for the figs.
Note: If your figs are very ripe, this next step is not needed. Just quarter the figs and serve on pasta. My figs were a little hard, so I thought they might improve with heat. Halve your fresh figs, and place them cut side down in the hot frying pan. Gently fry them for a few minutes each side. Take them out carefully, and slice each half in two again. It just makes it easier to eat while watching football. (I do not pretend to be interested.)
While the pasta is finishing and the figs are softening, roughly crumble the blue cheese. Shell and break up the walnuts. Rinse the basil, shake off the water and take the leaves off the stems.
Almost there! Now, take out half a cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. You might not need much of the starchy water, but if the pasta looks a bit dry, a few splashes will help and is a good alternative to adding cream.
Time to assemble: pasta into a bowl, then blue cheese sprinkled over. Stir it a couple times; I added a small splash of pasta water to loosen the pasta and cheese. Not too much, though. Then toss in the rest: crispy pancetta, walnuts, basil. Finally, place the fig quarters on top and serve.
Salt and pepper optional, as is watching the second half of the game….
Notes: As you may recall, I have been studying for a French exam. Well, I passed the written part! Whoohoo! Must have been that sourdough vocabulary in French I managed to include, about les boulangeries artisanales et du pain au levain. Next week, oral exam. Eh bien, ma ruse est de préparer les macarons dimanche, d’enricher mon vocabulaire et pour me détendre. Nous verrons……