Friday, 21 September 2012

downton suppers: orecchiette with spinach crème fraiche

orecchiette with spinach creme fraiche
it’s nine pm on sunday evening and thirty-two is getting ready for a downton supper. tv buffs will know that i am talking about downton abbey, the award winning period drama whose first series aired in twenty-ten. o and i have our pet favourites in the crawley family and its household and were looking forward to the return of the dowager duchess and her witticisms. 

the last two seasons of downton set a precedent of tv dinners. i found that i was mostly making bowl food as its not fiddly and fussy. there was many a bowl of chilli cut through with a jalapeno crème fraiche, lentils and rice and chunky soups. to start this season i made orecchiette tossed with spinach flecked crème fraiche. i used plenty of lemon zest for a streak of brightness and some chilli flakes to add a little heat. the inspiration for this was drawn from my irani favourite borani esfanaaj, a spinach and garlic laced yoghurt. the little ear shaped pasta with a little hollow prove the perfect receptacle for the creamy sauce. i am sure this sauce would be good with cream but i like the slight tartness of crème fraiche. to me it strikes the right balance between cream and a little bit of an edge. 

onions, spinach, garlic and red chillies
{orecchiette with spinach crème fraiche} 

five hundred grams orecchiette 
two hundred grams spinach 
one tablespoon olive oil 
half an onion, thinly sliced 
two plump cloves of garlic, minced 
one and a half teaspoon chilli flakes 
zest and juice of a lemon 
two hundred and fifty gram tub of crème fraiche (i use rodda’s) 

cook the orecchiette in plenty of salted water until al dente. drain in a colander reserving a couple of tablespoons of the water that it was boiled in. 

blanch the spinach and when it is cool enough to handle squeeze out all the moisture. chop it fine and put aside. put the olive oil and onions in a large pan. fry the onions on a gentle heat until they are soft and translucent. they should not colour at all. then add the garlic and let it soften so that it looses its aggression. then add the chilli flakes, letting them toast in the warm oil for a moment or two. add the chopped spinach and stir so that the oil coats it. 

turn off the heat and stir the crème fraiche, lemon zest and juice into the spinach mixture. salt to taste. then fold in the pasta. if the sauce is too thick loosen with the cooking liquid reserved from the pasta. 

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