Linguine with Fresh Pesto and Pancetta

pasta pesto

Well, how do I begin to describe my love for pesto? The smell of the basil, the slight grittiness of the parmesan, the smoky creaminess of the toasted pine nuts. It seems such a miraculous harmony of delicious ingredients. I would go as far to say it’s my favourite food. Savoury food that is – my favourite pudding is a whole other (lengthy) conversation.

basil and pine nuts

I make pesto relatively regularly, and yet this is the first time I’ve actually measured the ingredients before throwing them in. Usually I just add things bit by bit until it tastes like it has the right balance – and I always need to make more than I need because all of these ‘tastes’ are, inevitably, large spoonfuls. This meal, of pasta with pesto and pancetta (or bacon), is both my default comfort food and my default quick, easy yet impressive dinner party food.

pesto and pasta

As I was taking photos of a dish so dear to my heart, I decided to trawl the local charity shops to find a suitable plate on which to show if off. I found this retro, fluted triumph at a very unassuming charity shop for a very reasonable £1.50. It’s the sort of plate that would have once been a proud member of a set to grace a dinner table back in the day, but now has been discarded in favour of more minimal, neutral patterns. However, it works perfectly for this dish, as the red patterning complements the bright green of the pesto.

pasta

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Pork and Sweet Potato Bake

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Even though it’s May now, on some days it still doesn’t feel like Spring will ever arrive. On occasional days the temperature rises above freezing, and everyone suddenly gets very excited (with whisperings of “10 degrees!”) only for it to plummet back down to -1 the next day.

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Snuggling up in front of a wood-burning stove is much more appealing than going outside and making the most of that extra hour of daylight.  And eating comforting, rich things like this feels appropriate.

Bake

This dish is somewhere between a sweet potato gratin and a lasagne- layers of rich pork mixture and sweet potato, topped off with fluffy béchamel sauce.

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