The Queen of Simple


Pasta Is The Food of Champions, originally uploaded by jaxies.

It’s been an odd week. On Tuesday night I found myself rushing to A&E (that’s ER to you Amurikan folks) because the contact lens in my left eye had broken whilst I was removing my make-up for bed, and gotten stuck. Cue much panicking and being convinced that said remainder of contact lens was stuck at back of eye. Luckily the doctor down at the Great Western Eye Hospital sorted me out in five minutes (told me that lenses can’t slip round the back of the eye and I was being silly, dropped anaesthetic in eye, used what looked like a cotton bud to swab out the offending article, checked surface of eye for damage, gave me antibiotic drops) and we went home. The following day at work a very old, rather senile and incredibly deaf lady who’d been in two weeks previously came back in and proceeded to yell at me for forty-five minutes. Not because we’d done anything wrong, per se, but because she is old, senile and deaf, and had bought the wrong product, then was blaming us. The whole episode left me rather shook up (even though I managed to sort it out) and all I wanted to do afterwards was curl up in a ball and go to sleep.

So that’s been my week. A week not very conducive to cooking particularly elaborate meals, one more for simple. And besides, very often I like to throw meals together that require minimal effort. I very rarely blog these meals because they are so minimal effort that I just end up scoffing the whole lot down without photographing it, and without photography there may as well be no point to the recipe. At least not on a food blog where the main pleasure is gazing upon food porn, salivating and imagining eating it. Or something like that. But this one I just had to share.

Certain foods have a particular meaning for me. Chinese and Japanese food reminds me of family, Spanish food reminds me of my childhood, stews remind me of cold nights and tears on my pillow, and pasta reminds me of Nottingham. I could give you a long-winded explanation about why this is but let it suffice to say this: pasta is cheap. I was poor. ‘Nuff said, really. I did, however, come up with a million and one ways to eat pasta.

I first read about a version of this recipe on Serious Eats and had decided to give it a go, without the fresh homemade ricotta, sadly, but with a tub of ricotta I had waiting for me to use in the fridge. I made a few changes, notably roasting some leftover cherry tomatoes and adding some leftover sauteed spinach, but the end result was delicious. We’ve since made it a couple more times, adding pancetta cubes, pine nuts and a chilli, but I think this first version is still the best. Nom.

Also did I mention that it’s kinda fun? We loved tossing the pasta with my new tongs (how did I live this long without them?!) and then serving it up. So rich, creamy and delicious – perfection.


Handful of cherry tomatoes, cross cut into their tops
Handful of spinach
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Pasta of your choice (long variety; I used tripoline)
2 tbsps ricotta
Olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Place the cherry tomatoes onto a baking tray, cut-sides up. Sprinkle with half the garlic, then sprinkle about 1 tbsp olive oil over them and season well with salt and pepper.
3. Grill in the oven for about 20 mins.
4. Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente (add a glug of vegetable oil to prevent the pasta from sticking, and 1 tsp salt to help the water along).
5. In a pan, sautee the remaining garlic and spinach with a little olive oil. Set aside.
6. To assemble, place the cherry tomatoes on the bottom of a serving dish, top with spinach, pasta, the ricotta and then season well. Toss like a pro, dish out and consume. Mhm, nom-nom-nom!

That’s all for now. Simples, right? Love it. Until next time, peace and love.

Jax x

9 Responses to “The Queen of Simple”

  1. Tunde Says:

    Pasta !! The saving grace for that quick easy meal except you want to go the cup'o noodles route ( can't stand the smell and taste). Hmmmmm.. ricotta !!!! Maybe I should have born Italian. This is a recipe I could see myself making.Nicely done Jackie :D. Now where's that lemon-ricotta pancake recipe :P !!

    Funny that you happened to comment while I was reading this !!

  2. Chef Dennis Says:

    thank goodness your trip to the hospital turned out well..I'm glad to hear your ok! Your pasta dish looks heavenly, I love ricotta blended into pastas!

  3. Ashley Says:

    I can master this! :)

    Sorry about your week…I totally KNOW that contact lens feeling…and it DOES feel like it can go in the back of your eye. Maybe the eye doctor doesn't wear contacts, thus, not knowing that weird feeling!!

    Or, maybe he knows what he is talking about. hehe.

  4. Monet Says:

    I am so sorry about your health scare. There is nothing worse, and I'm just glad that everything turned out okay. This dish looks delicious, very comforting and simple to put together. I hope you have a relaxing weekend love!

  5. islandeat Says:

    Hi, Jax. How awful to have a broken lens in your eye! I gave up years ago with the contacts (and my father was an optometrist) for all sorts of reasons, but I never suffered through this. Good thing I don't have to remove make-up, either….

    The pasta looks colourful, rich, and satisfying – much better than a poke in the eye, as the saying goes (and what an awful saying at that). Sorry I had to use it.



  6. Chanel11 Says:

    Hope your eyeballs get better!

    And I will have to try this out – it definitely got me salivating- at the taste and the easiness

  7. Jackie Says:

    Tunde – I know, isn't pasta brilliant for those quick meals where you really don't want to do very much at all? Do make this one and let me know how it turns out!

    Dennis – thank you, lovely =) Eye is all better now!

    Ash – he knew what he was talking about, I was just panicking and not doing very well in a crisis! ;)

    Monet – thank you my lovely! We have a long weekend over here in the UK this weekend as tomorrow (Monday) is the August Bank Holiday Monday, so happy times all around! If only the weather weren't quite so terrible…

    Dan – hahaha, that's a terrible thing to say. Honestly… ;) Definitely better than a poke in the eye! I should know… sob…

    Chanel11 – do try it! It's sooo easy and tasty. Momma Lee became obsessed with adding anchovies to later renditions, which did add a nice saltiness, so if you're so inclined you could try that out too! Hope you and hubby enjoy it =)

    Jax x

  8. Reeni Says:

    I am so glad all turned out well with your eye! And with that awful bitch yelling at you. Pasta is one of the best comfort foods! This looks like a creamy bowl full of yum!

  9. Jackie Says:

    Thanks Reeni =) It is a creamy bowl of yum and very easy, too! You should try it out!

    Jax x

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