Saturday, 6 November 2010

Antipasto Antipasta?

The pairing of tuna and butter beans makes for a classic Italian antipasto, and a combination that I adore.  It also works well as a suppertime pasta dish and this is a simple recipe using mainly storecupboard ingredients, except for an onion, some parsley and a lemon (and if I can pick those up in our tiny, though fabulous, village post office then I'm sure no-one else will find too much of an excursion in them). As for the pasta, I am currently having a total linguine moment, so I used that tonight, but cavatappi and fusilli have worked equally well for me in the past.

Pasta with Tuna and Butter Beans

250g dried pasta (and see above)
200g can good-quality tuna in olive oil
1 small onion, halved and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
 can butter beans, drained and rinsed well.
chopped fresh parsley
grated zest of one lemon and a spritz of its juice
Cook the pasta.  Meanwhile, drain the tuna and reserve the oil.  Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion with the whole garlic cloves until the onion is very, very soft.  Tip in the butterbeans and turn in the oil until they are warmed through, then add the tuna to the pan with some parsley and the lemon zest.  Fold it all together carefully; try not to break the tuna up too much or the dish will lose its pleasing texture.  Drain the pasta (reserving some water from the pan) and toss it with the tuna-and-bean mixture, adding a little of the pasta water and a squeeze of lemon juice to bring the flavours and consistency together.  Please, no cheese...


We went to Pizza Express in the half-term holidays while we were on a shopping jaunt to Carmarthen and the children were freshly, as always, enamored of the famous dough balls with garlic butter.  Ever since, they have been regularly nagging me talking about them and finally I thought it was time I knocked up a home-style batch; driving to Carmarthen just for an order of dough balls would be extravagantly decadent in the extreme!

Dough Balls

450g strong white flour
7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
250ml warm water
 flour, fine semolina or cornmeal, to dust

garlic butter, to serve

Mix all the ingredients for the dough together and knead for 5 minutes.  Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  Knock the dough down and knead for another 5 minutes.  Re-cover and leave for another 30 minutes or so.  Divide the dough into 16 and roll into balls.  Place on a floured baking sheet and dust them with a little bit of flour (or, even better, a little fine semolina or cornmeal/polenta flour).  Leave for 30 minutes until puffed up and then bake at 200°c for 15-20 minutes until tinged with gold.  Serve warm, with dishes of cool garlic butter on the side.  Dip the balls into the butter, or break them open and spread with the butter; your style, your choice.
Cath xx

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