We all have those dishes that evoke memories of comfort. Coming in from a wet evening being welcomed by a warm fire, and the smells from the kitchen catching us and wrapping us in the soft blanket of familiarity and home. It is usually those kinds of dishes most associated with coming into this time of year, the evenings cooler and the nighttime edging its darkness ever slowly into the day. Long, slow cooked stews and roasts come to mind. In a busy weekday it can be difficult to find the time to devote to that kind of dish and yet that can be the time when you need it the most. For me, this chorizo pasta dish ticks both of those boxes. Basically just 5 main ingredients, the paprika spiked chorizo warms with its mild smokiness and combined with the tomatoes provides a rich ragu. Topping this with some grated buffalo mozzarella and fresh, peppery rocket delivers a plate that will warm and comfort on any chilly autumn evening, and indeed even the whole year around.
Ingredients (Serve 4-6)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 250g chorizo peeled and sliced into ½ centimetre slices (Although less authentically “chorizo” than others I think Lidl’s Dulano chorizo works really well in this dish)
3 x garlic cloves peeled and chopped
A large handful of rocket
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 x 30g packet of flat leaf parsley, large stalks removed and chopped
1 ball buffalo mozzarella, drained and grated
500g rigatoni (see further notes on pasta below)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Go the extra mile
100ml red wine
A splash, approx. 1 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar if not)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Just a couple of notes on the recipe: This dish works well with any tubular pasta as it holds the sauce well. I have used rigatoni here but would work equally as well with fusilli or penne. DeCecco is the brand that I use. Supervalu stock some range I think and in Galway McCambridges and Mortons in Salthill also stock it. Otherwise any good deli or independent foodstore is most likely to stock it. A 500g bag of rigatoni is about €2.50 or cheaper. I will recommend ingredients from time to time based upon my experience of what I think are best and/or best value for money. These are my recommendations only and are not to be seen as an endorsement of any product or business.
The Italians apparently say that the water you cook your pasta in should be as salty as the sea. How salty you make it is entirely up to you but for 500g pasta I would recommend 8-10tsp salt. The reason for this is that salt adds flavour to the dry pasta as it cooks. How salty you make it is entirely up to you but the two other necessities that should not be neglected are the amount of water and the size of the pot. Remember Julia ““Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need,” from the first post? Well now it’s time to take that advice. A big stockpot or as big a pot as you have will do the trick. I use and recommend 1 litre of water to 100g of pasta. I know this may seem like a lot but it is needed so that the starchy pasta has room to swim while cooking and doesn’t get stuck to each other. The myth that adding oil to pasta water is quite frankly a fallacy and does nothing but waste good olive oil being poured down the sink. Reserving some of this starchy water before draining is a great way of loosening a thick sauce and also helps the sauce to cling better to the pasta.