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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

University Challenge

I have been nudged by pangs of nostalgia these past few days, remembering Autumn 1997, when I strode down Oxford’s Broad Street as a very proud first year university student.  Following a hugely successful year at Ruskin College, I transferred to The London School of Economics to complete my degree.
These nostalgic feelings have been brought on by seeing so many young people I know packing their rucksacks and overloading parental cars to head for halls of residence.  
My misty eyed memories of student life are tempered with the memory of it being a survival course. Eating well meant shopping carefully and in lots of different places to get the best value for money.
This simple recipe ought to feed a house full of hungry students quite cheaply. I call this recipe ‘pub’ pasta because its ideal for students coming back starving from the pub after a night on the beer! BTW the picture is a stock one!

Pub Pasta
1 500g bag of Spiralled Macaroni or Penne pasta.
2 Red Onions,
907g bag of Value Sweet corn,
Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
Refill box of dried Basil or fresh basil if its cheap enough.
Small bag of blanched, unsalted, non-roasted peanuts,
2 or 3 Cherry Tomatoes for each person.
100g of grated strong cheddar cheese,
Salt and Black pepper. 

Most of this stuff can be got from a supermarket, but also look out for local shops, because they can be much cheaper on things like the tomatoes, herbs and olive oil. DO NOT buy pre-grated cheese IT’S A RIP OFF.

Use a handful of pasta for each person, with a couple of handfuls spare. Cook in salted boiling water. When its half way cooked, add in a good few handfuls of sweetcorn.
While that’s happening, roughly chop the onions and break up the nuts so that they are not too small.
Quarter the cherry tomatoes.
Make a mock pesto by putting 5 or 6 tablespoons of the oil into a bowl and add the dried basil and the nuts and half the grated cheese. Stir it all together season with salt and black pepper. .
Drain the pasta and sweetcorn when its cooked and transfer it back to the pan. Pour in the pesto and gently heat it all through.  Next stir in the red onions and tomatoes and take if off the heat. Serve in bowls with some extra grated cheese and some more oil drizzled over the top. 
If you want to, when cooking the pasta, drop a couple crushed garlic cloves into the water.