Pasta for Dinner
To me pasta is one of the best options when it comes to quick and satisfying dinners. It doesn't matter whether you use simple or fancy (quality is the most important thing) ingredients, it's always a pleasure to eat. I often use up some of my fridge leftovers in a pasta meal. Think half an onion, a single lonely carrot, half empty jar of olives, etc., but that's not always the case. Sometimes I want to be a bit more adventurous and use ingredients that are less commonly known to be used with pasta or even use a certain type of pasta I have never used before.
Burrata, Tomatoes, Olives & Sage
Last week's pasta dinner was very photogenic and slightly different than usual.. In a good way. I went for thick, square shaped and hollow BU QUADRO pasta made by italian brand "Verrigni" and hoped I would not fail boiling it. I'm a tomato lover so I knew I wanted a simple tomato base, which I upgraded with fresh sage leaves, some home grown garlic, shallot, half dried cherry tomatoes and Sicilian olives in a salty marinade, which actually worked as a seasoning due to its saltiness (yay to useful discoveries!). All these ingredients aside, something was missing and that had to be cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano? Classic, but that's not what I was looking for. Mozzarella di Bufala? More like it... Then it hit me: creamy, fresh, sweet in taste and photographs beautifully - BURRATA. If you're not yet familiar with burrata cheese, its looks are very similar to mozzarella, but it has a creamy centre filled with fresh cream so when you pierce it, all of the fatty goodness comes running down whatever ingredients you have it on. Sometimes your clothes, too.
This really was a fancier pasta dinner choice, but it still only took me about 25 minutes to prepare, so fancier doesn't necessarily mean longer preparation.
TIP: You can find quality Italian products in specialty stores, where you will have the advantage to ask for an advice while choosing between certain ingredients. I stocked up on things like pasta, whole peeled tomatoes, olives, half dried cherry tomatoes and burrata in one cute gourmet shop called "Itališko skonio gurmanai" in Vilnius. It was the first time a specialty store suggested me to look at the Nutrition Charts for Olive Oil with information such as acidity to choose which oil would suit my taste best. So I left with one bottle.
Serves 2 | Time: 25 minutes
- 160 g of Bu Quadro (or similar) pasta
- 250 g of whole peeled tomatoes in their own juice
- a handful of salty sicilian olives (or other quality italian olives)
- a hadful of half dried cherry tomatoes
- a couple of garlic cloves
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 burrata ball
- fresh sage leaves
Prepare The Sauce
Heat a bit of olive oil in a frying pan or a saucepan. Add finely chopped shallot, garlic and whole sage leaves, fry until translucent and slightly browned. Pour in whole peeled tomatoes, add the dried tomatoes and olives (chopped or whole; I also poured in a few tablespoons of the olive marinade). Pour in a bit of water if needed. Let it cook on low heat.
Fill a large (wide) pot with water, add a bit of salt and bring to a boil - bu quadro pasta has to be submerged all at once or you might end up with mushy ends on one side and hard on the other. Add the pasta and cook to 'al dente' - cooked through, but firm. Drain.
Add pasta to the sauce and gently mix it in using tongs. Divide between two pasta bowls and top with burrata cheese. Serve immediately, stirring burrata cream into the pasta.
NOTE: I used no extra salt in the sauce, because I used salty olives and poured in a bit of the salty marinade. If you're not using salty olives, you might need to add some sea salt into the sauce, so taste it before mixing with pasta. Burrata isn't salty either, so don't rely on cheese this time.