Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bacon, broad bean and black garlic pasta

I call this 3B pasta and it's really easy to make although it does use three pans. I think it's worth it, though, as the flavours go so well together. It's a store-cupboard dish - I usually have all the ingredients to hand so it's just a case of raiding the fridge and freezer for bacon, broad beans and parmesan, and the larder for pasta and the garlic.

What you need: 
Enough dried pasta spirals for one
A small shallot, chopped very finely
A small pack of lardons or a couple of snipped bacon rashers
A handful of broad beans
A bulb of black garlic
Olive oil
Fresh grated parmesan
A knob of butter

What to do:
Peel the garlic and crush the cloves to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add a pinch of sea salt and work them together to create a dark flavoured oil. (One of those mini worktop food-processors will do an equally good job of blitzing everything together.)

Put the pasta on to cook and the broad beans. While they are boiling, sauté the the shallot in a knob of butter until it turns translucent, then add the lardons and fry until the fat starts to run off. Don't let them caramelise. Keep warm. Drain the beans (about 5 minutes) and pop them out of their skins then add them to the lardons. Drain the pasta when it's al dente (about 10 minutes) and add to the beans and lardons. Mix well, add a tablespoon of the black garlic oil, toss through and put in a bowl. Finish off with some grated parmesan.

Cook's tips: 
Black garlic is ordinary garlic that has been fermented - it has a deep, sweet flavour a little like licorice and is very soft. As a flavouring, it's not obviously garlicky at all but it will deliver a huge hit of umami to whatever you add it too. It's quite easy to find it online and a single bulb usually costs £1-1.50. Peel the cloves carefully with your fingers as they will be sticky and squishy.

The leftover oil will keep in a jar for weeks - try adding some to a mushroom risotto, dress a lamb chop with it before grilling or rub it over a chicken prior to roasting. On their own the cloves can be used to flavour dips, add to tapenade, or use in Asian stir-fries.

Much as I love broad beans, I find the skins can be tough sometimes. I won't skin the beans if they are very small but the bigger ones definitely benefit from losing their outer coat. If the beans have been boiled for 4-5 minutes, the skins will slip off very easily. If you're not a fan, use peas instead.