Thursday, 10 July 2008

Dinner in a Dash

I had to travel up to Birmingham with Alex for an orthodontist appointment yesterday, but Guy had invited an old business colleague for dinner. I wasn't going to be back with Alex till nearly 6pm, and our guest was arriving at 7pm. So it was going to have to be an easy dinner!

The night before, I made Nigella Lawson's Damp Almond and Lemon Cake, from her book "How to Be a Domestic Goddess". When it was cool, I wrapped it up in foil as instructed. So that was dessert nearly taken care of.

On the night, I decided to go for the easy option of pasta for dinner, despite the fact Guy and I had pasta the night before (see previous entry!). I used a Sacla sauce again - this time it was their green pesto. The recipe for my pasta dish, which is extremely quick and easy, is below. I have been making it for years and it turns out wonderful every time. I served it with a green salad (from a bag, but don't tell anyone!) and part baked bread rolls which I just finished cooking in the oven. Okay, I cheated like mad, but it was a great dinner!

The Damp Almond and Lemon Cake tastes incredible but it is less than beautiful au naturel. So, to dress it up a bit, I mixed together some fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. I then got some good vanilla ice cream out of the freezer. Instead of taking dessert to the table, I served it from the kitchen, presenting each person with a plate containing a small piece of cake, a handful of fruit and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I sprinkled both the cake and fruit with icing sugar. It looked, and tasted, just wonderful.

We had a really nice evening, washing the pasta down with a nice merlot. There were clean plates all round. Here's the pasta recipe for the next time you find yourself in a similar situation of needing a dinner suitable for company on the quick and easy!

The 21st Century Housewife's
Chicken and Bacon Pesto Pasta
Serves 4
3 chicken breasts, cut in small chunks
(or buy a package of chicken mini fillets and cut each one in half with clean kitchen scissors)
1 small package pancetta chunks (or use bacon lardons)
300 grams of penne pasta or other pasta shapes
1 jar Sacla green pesto
3 to 4 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 cup of frozen peas
8 spring onions, sliced
Cook the pasta in boiling water as directed on the package. Meanwhile, in a medium sized frying pan with a lid, fry the chicken pieces and the pancetta over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink inside (about ten minutes). Stir in the jar of pesto, creme fraiche and the peas. Lower the heat, pop the lid on and let everything cook together for about five minutes. Don't let it boil.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pan. Then stir in the hot chicken and pesto mixture. Sprinkle the spring onions over top and cover the pan with a lid for a couple of minutes.
Serve with salad and/or crusty bread.

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