I love, love, love pasta. Which is why I pretty much never order it in a restaurant. Because, honest to goodness, nine times out of ten they will muck it up. And then I just get annoyed (which isn’t pretty) because making good pasta is not rocket science. Pasta cooked until it’s just al dente, a kiss of intensely-flavoured sauce… What’s so hard about that?

Take my mushroom pasta. It’s just mushrooms, thyme, garlic, a dash of cream and lashings of parmesan. So simple, yet utterly moreish. So what’s the secret to good pasta? Really good ingredients and half a brain. Intensely woody portabellini mushrooms instead of boring old white button ones. Proper parmesan cheese, not that scary powdered packet stuff (two parts sawdust, one part navel fluff if you ask me). And the very best egg pasta you can get your hands on (home-made’s even better). Try it. You’ll never order mushroom pasta in a restaurant again.

All you need is…

1 tbs olive oil
3 rashers streaky bacon, finely sliced
2 tbs salted butter
250g portabellini mushrooms, finely sliced
half a teaspoon crushed garlic
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
12 tbs cream
4 tbs freshly grated parmesan or pecorino
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (trust me, you need more than you think)
ribbon pasta of your choice
extra parmesan, for serving

Fry the bacon in the olive oil until super crispy. Remove bacon and drain on kitchen towel. (Leave the bacon fat in the pan, it’s pure flavour.) Add the butter to the pan you fried the bacon in and add the mushrooms and thyme sprigs. Fry until almost cooked through, then add the garlic and fry for a further minute or two until mushrooms are done.

Add the cream, parmesan and a very generous pinch of salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Toss cooked pasta into the pan and stir through.Taste for salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the bacon crumbs and serve immediately with extra parmesan on the side.




10 min


15 min


ips, tricks and trivia

How to cook perfect pasta…

A really large pot with lots of water is what you need. Wait for the water to boil vigorously on a high heat, then add a generous amount of salt – easily a tablespoon of salt if you’re cooking pasta for six. Add the pasta and boil on high heat without the lid. Some say you need to add oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking. But really, if the pot is large enough, you have enough water and heat, and you stir once or twice, you really don’t need oil.

As soon as the pasta starts looking soft, start testing it. The best way is to bite into a piece. You want it firm to the bite (al dente), definitely not mushy. Remove and drain in a colander (but do NOT rinse). Toss through a splash of quality extra virgin olive oil and you’re done.

enjoy with

Chardonnay stands up nicely to a rich, creamy dish. As this is an easy weeknight supper, I wouldn’t buy anything fancy.

Leopard’s Leap has an unwooded Chardonnay that’s not half bad. With lovely golden apple on the tongue and grapefruit and lime on the nose, it retails for under R50. Perfect.

Leopard's Leap


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