Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Spicy, Creamy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Someone wrote a really lovely comment on the blog the other day. A stranger called Suzanne, reading my Wedding Cake post, asked for any extra tips about making your own wedding cake (which clearly I had in abundance, opinions not being in short supply around here). But she also said some very nice things about the blog, and the recipes, and mentioned that she was going to make my courgette and spinach pasta that night (incidentally, Suzanne, thanks for the idea - now, so are we!). And although it wasn't the first comment I've received, by any means, I couldn't stop thinking and grinning about it afterwards. 

You see, it's a funny business, this whole comment thing. Every single one I receive is thrilling and flattering and absolutely makes my day. But it's also a bit of a shock because I can never quite get my head around the fact that other people read this. In my head, this blog is an unholy hybrid of teenage diary and efficient, portable recipe book - the equivalent of the blotched, crumpled scrapbook with doodlings in the margin and agonised teenage ramblings in the back, flapping pages covered in transliterations from your mum and bits ripped out of magazines. With the added advantage that I can check what ingredients I need when I'm out and about, and remember which recipes worked and which were real stinkers. Incredibly useful for me, obviously, but of negligible interest to anyone else. 

Yet every day, about 300 people - people I've never even met, nor will do - come to this blotched, scribbled notebook and read what I write. Sometimes more. Isn't that ridiculous? Can you believe it? I certainly can't. And they can't all be my mum, or my husband - nor confused web searchers looking for "the most I'm allowed" (nope, no idea, but 13 people have come to me that way this week). Some are here on purpose, because they like it. Sometimes they make the recipes - like Suzanne making my courgette pasta, wherever she lives, whoever she is. And sometimes they like it so much that they leave comments - lovely, friendly, utterly bewildering comments. I know that the big blogs like Smitten Kitchen get a bajillion visitors and comments every day without breaking a sweat, but for me this is a big deal. And an exciting deal. And a "quick, forward it to my mum" deal. 

So in honour of Suzanne's lovely comment, and the pasta we inspired her to make, here is one of our old and delicious favourites - so old that I can't quite believe I haven't blogged it so far. It was a Nigel Slater recipe originally but he doesn't seem to believe in vegetables, so we've adapted it quite a lot. But, as you can see, we definitely believe in summer evenings, in eating outside, and in celebrating six blissful months in our gorgeous, all-our-own house. All those posts last Summer where I was pining for a garden, yearning to eat outside? This is IT. We've done it! And it's a pleasure to share the celebration with all of you. Whoever you are.

Spicy, Creamy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Real Food
Serves 2

- an onion, halved and finely sliced
- 4 sausages, peeled (YES I know it feels gross, just do it) and crumbled into chunks
- a glass of white wine
- a heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard
- a heaped teaspoon of grainy mustard
- a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
- a big sloop of double cream, maybe 150ml?
- a head of broccoli, cut into small florets
- enough pasta for two people (I'll leave the exact quantities between you and your conscience)
- optional - a handful of frozen peas, raw spinach, and fresh basil.

Get a large frying pan onto a medium heat and drizzle in some oil. Add the onion, along with a pinch of salt, and cook gently until soft and golden - about 5 minutes. Put the kettle on while you're at it.

Then tip the onion out into a bowl and put the pan back on the heat, with a teeny bit of oil in the bottom. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sausage is golden brown and caramelising in places.

Cook the pasta for however long it says in the packet, adding the broccoli five minutes before it's ready. If you're having peas too, chuck them in at the same time.

Add the onion back to the frying pan with the sausage, then pour over the white wine and let it sizzle, scraping up any goo from the bottom of the pan. Add the mustards, chilli and a good sprinkle of pepper, then pour in the cream and let it come to a gentle simmer for about five minutes. If you're using fresh basil or spinach (and they're both delicious), add them at this stage and let them wilt.

When the pasta and broccoli are ready, drain and stir into the sauce. Serve with grated parmesan if you're feeling greedy, and a sunny evening if you've got one. 

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