One theme that I always seem to come back to on here is certain beers becoming so ubiquitous that you forget how good they are and start to take them for granted. A similar epiphany occurred in Italy last month; although this was about Pasta.
Pasta. The fall-back, go-to meal. Everyone loves it, everyone eats it. Yet it had been a long time since I'd enjoyed any truly outstanding pasta. That is, until I ate pasta in Italy. Firstly, the practise of eating is as a first course (Primi Piatti) makes total sense. The portion is slightly smaller, but I found these (seemingly never-ending succession of) pastas so packed with flavour and so light, that I was blown away. I would look forward to dinner every night, just to see what dainty, flavourful morsel as coming my way. Sauces are minimal, and that's the difference. A little sauce, a lot of flavour.
The only thing that let the experience down was my own high expectations. Sure, the wine was great, but I came away each night missing a truly great beer to accompany the dishes. So I put the old thinking cap on, and have spent the last fortnight or so making pasta purely to enjoy with some beers. The first one is Prawn and Spinach Orecchiette with Saltaire Blonde.
Orecchiette is a great little pasta - and you should be able to pick some up in larger supermarkets or good delis (ie Salt's, if in Leeds). Thier little dimples pick up sauce really well, and they just look great too. I normally make pasta, but in this case, I used some dried - making Orecchiette would just be a bit too fiddly for me, personally. I want to eat.
On we go: Get your pasta on the boil and drain when done. In the meantime, in a large pan, drop a large glug of Olive Oil, and warm it gently. Get about 10 cherry tomatoes, and slice them in half. Put these in the pan, and let them cook out slightly. Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar and a handful of fresh Sage, chopped. At this point, add two cloves of Garlic, chopped. Add your prawns, (about 150g) and let them cook. If they are frozen, they'll release a little water, just let this cook out. Finally, add some washed and torn spinach leaves and let them wilt. When the pasta's done, tip it into the pan and coat it in the sauce. Add a little more Olive oil, and serve. If you don't eat seafood - use Chicken or Turkey instead.
Saltaire's Blonde is an ideal beer for a light Pasta like this, being so light itself. It's got a decent lemony freshness at the end of the sip, and the touch of wheat in the grain bill smooths it out a little. It chills really well, too, so although the sun may be gone for 2010 now, you can still have some use for those Summer thirst-quenchers!!
I'll be putting up some other recipes in the next few weeks.