I’ve often written about my view of Italian food – quality ingredients, simply cooked. Those four words ring true again and again every time I go to Italy. My last trip was the week before Easter, skiing in Courmayeur in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Italy has much to recommend it as a ski destination, comfortable & affordable hotels, empty slopes – I’ve never skied anywhere with so few people, and of course good affordable food. The food was especially noticeable in the mountain restaurants – pizza, pasta (a simple sauce and nicely al dente) and polenta was all well, but simply, prepared and packed with flavour. The food was made with care, passion and pride and was the best mountain food I have ever had. The affordability was a bonus too – sure the mountain restaurants have a captive market, but I felt the food was what they would serve their families and friends, and it certainly surpassed my expectations and the standards in France a few short miles away.
Pasta is one of the classic Italian dishes, and Italian Bertolli want us Brits to show pasta some passion. Bertolli has been making olive oil since 1865, which is some tradition. Modern Italy was only unified in 1861, so it is a relatively young country with an ancient culture, and goes some way to explain the fierce regional pride and traditions that many Italians have. As well as the original olive oils, Bertolli now put their name to sauces, and spreads – the newest addition to the line up being Bertolli with Butter, combining the flavours of butter and olive oil but with 45% less saturated fat than cooking with just butter.
Italian chef Geranno Contaldo has been an ambassador for Bertolli for a number of years, his passion for good Italian food is both infectious and inspiring, and he has created a number of super speedy pasta recipes using the new Bertolli with Butter. I made Geranno’s speedy spaghetti, a quick and simple dish of pasta which uses the Bertolli with Butter and is flavoured with garlic, anchovy, chilli, parsley and pecorino.
This combination is one of my favourite ways to serve spaghetti, I adore anchovies, intense and salty, they melt to make a simple, but oh-so-delicious sauce for the pasta. It is the ideal dish after an unexpected evening out, quick and simple to prepare, and far better for you than grabbing a snack on the way home. Italian fast food at its finest.
Remember to cook your pasta in a large saucepan of salted water – use a big pan, and give the pasta some room to move whilst it cooks. Add some of the silky, starchy pasta cooking water to the sauce to make it go further, and above all experiment with the recipe – when I make this dish I usually add some capers, today I added some smooth soft avocado (they go extraordinarily well with the salty anchovies and hot chilli), and a few chopped up sun dried tomatoes. Swap out the herbs, basil would work in place of the parsley, and try either Parmasan or Grana Padano in place of the pecorino. If you want to make it even healthier fry some cherry tomatoes, or sliced peppers with the anchovies, or add some spinach in when the pasta is almost cooked. So many variations on a simple dish!
I was impressed with the Bertolli with Butter, normally I’d fry in olive oil and then add some butter with the pasta water at the end of the cooking, the Bertolli with Butter easily spooned from the tub, melted quickly and cooked evenly. If it is used by Gennaro it can gain a permanent place in my fridge and shopping list!
- 150 g Spaghetti
- 50 g Bertolli with Butter
- 2 Fat Garlic cloves peeled & sliced
- Small tin anchovy fillets drained
- 1 Fresh red chilli sliced
- 3 sun dried tomatoes - chopped
- Juice half a lemon
- 1/2 avocado - stoned peeled and chopped
- ½ a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley - chopped
- Pecorino cheese to serve
Follow the instructions for Gennaro's Speedy Spaghetti, adding the sun dried tomatoes to the pan and the same time as the other ingredients, the lemon with the pasta water and the avocado with the chilli.
This recipe for Speedy Spaghetti with Anchovy, Chilli and Avocado is sponsored by Bertolli. All opinions our own.
For more Bertolli with Butter Inspiration why not try