The concept is superb, a ‘one pot wonder’ that can feed and satisfy a table of friends and family with minimum fuss, limited stress and still taste delicious. Of course it exists and can come in all manner of ways. So in an attempt to embrace the arrival of autumn, I have decided to write a number of posts with the ‘one pot wonder’ dish in mind. The first one I want to introduce you to still sings of summer so no need to huddle around the hearth quite yet. This is a pasta dish which may seem a bit of a ‘cop out’ for some, but believe me, it is certainly worth trying. It is a straightforward carbonara but with the added addition of courgettes and thyme, that transform this rather simple Italian staple into a refreshingly interesting lunch, teamed with a fresh fig and raddichio salad with toasted hazelnuts it is the perfect combination to advent the arrival of shorter days and seasonal produce.
Mr.P is rather territorial when it comes to Saturday lunch and the cooking of pasta in general. It really is his domain, which though astonishing to some, is incredibly spoiling to the lucky recipients of his hard work. In this dish I have the supreme responsibility of growing the courgettes, which most years is no problem, assuming you can be patient and not plant the seedlings out too early and hang on in there to beyond the last frost, in theory they just get on with it and grow, and grow they usually do, doubling, tripling in size and producing what seems like an endless supply of tender courgettes with their wickedly bright yellow flowers. This year has been strange and we have not had the usual glut that we normally do which is just weird, but I think the kitchen garden had been a bit of a sad story in general.
Glut or glutless, if there are no courgettes in your garden, at least they are readily available at any vegetable shop. The real joy of growing your own, is that this recipe has a home for those beautiful, intricate flowers that otherwise end up being stuffed (really has anyone the time) or worse still end upon the compost heap! Back to the kitchen and Mr.P, so I am the courgette grower and thyme picker, Miss.L (the diligent and pretty grown up one) is always primed with grating Parmesan. This has been her responsibility for years and one she takes seriously – woe betide anyone who pinches her job. And job it is, as we get through several tonnes of the stuff every year! Mr.P is good at delegating so everyone gets involved, particularly on a lunch like this, making the whole eating occasion a rather entertaining family affair. We have had this pasta dish twice in the last 2 weeks, firstly in Puglia for 10 hungry mouths and laterly in the Isle of Wight. I can vouch for it very confidently – it is a crowd pleaser every time. After all who can resist carbonara, with the awesome addition of melting courgettes, thyme, lots of freshly ground black pepper and importantly those pretty flowers! It is rich, unctuous, intense, everything your Doctor tells you not to eat, heart attack heaven!
Courgette and Thyme Carbonara