This is a naughty and nifty little recipe from Nigel Slater, very quick and easy to make: you can do all the preparing while the pasta cooks in its pan. Done carefully, the fennel and the onion together sizzle away into something just hard enough to put up a token resistance in your mouth while giving you a hit of caramelised liquorice; meanwhile the feta hits you with a salty blast that stops the whole thing just being too darn sweet.
He says linguine, we use tagliatelle. Either way, do not let it overcook: if it goes slithering out of the holes in the colander, you know you should have taken it off the heat earlier. However, I have recently discovered that food with pasta tastes far nicer if you don’t drain the pasta, but instead use tongs or a slotted spoon to lift it out of the boiling water and drop it into the rest. This brings with it a good quantity of pasta-flavoured water which adds a delicacy to the whole melange of flavours.
The recipe is here. Mostly what he says, except:
|He says||I say|
|1 fennel bulb for 2 people||It actually serves 3 quite nicely.|
|1 banana shallot||1 banana, 2 banana, 3 banana, 4 … I have actually never heard of a banana shallot, and any kind of onion is fine.|
|200g linguine||Maybe it’s because we use tagliatelle instead, but 75g per head is fine.|
|Tear the basil over the fennel and shallot and crumble in the feta.||Well, you could … I however would mix the pasta in to the onion + fennel mix, then let it simmer on a diffuser over a low flame while you enjoy a preprandial G&T. To preserve the distinctiveness of their contribution to the mix, only mix in the basil and feta just before serving.|