For the nights when you are hungry for more than toast, but beyond cooking, this is a perfect solution. All you need is some butter, some fresh herbs (I confess, I got mine from my window ledge, but every supermarket stocks them in those little plastic packets now) and some pasta or gnocchi and in less than ten minutes you have something that wouldn’t look out of place at the River Café but will cost you, ooh, about £13 less. A spring onion or two won’t hurt but don’t faff about trying to dress it up too much; the joy of this is the simplicity and the speed. I used sage which is very happy in a butter sauce, but any other floppy-leaved herb (like basil or flat-leaf parsley) would work just as well.
For two you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
sea salt and black pepper
salted butter (i.e. the normal stuff, not unsalted), 50g
pasta or gnocchi, 200g of pasta or 300g gnocchi
sage, basil or flat-leaf parsley, a good handful of the leaves (about 2 tablespoons or 25-30g)
spring onions, 2 (optional)
1. Remove the herb leaves from the stalks if necessary and rinse them.
2. If using spring onions, top and tail them then chop them (white and green parts) into small pieces.
3. Boil a kettle for the gnocchi/pasta and, depending on which one you are using, cook for 2-10 minutes. The sauce will take about 5-7 minutes so, if your chosen starch is ready before that, drain it (reserving a spoonful of the cooking water) and rinse it in cold water to stop it sticking together.
4. Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the butter in a frying pan and add the chopped spring onion and cook until slightly brown and crispy. Then add the herbs and cook for a minute or two (sage will crisp up, the others will wilt). Add a tad more butter if you like lots of sauce.
5. Finally, add the reserved cooking water, stir and season to taste.
6. Eiher tip the pasta/gnocchi into the frying pan and mix with the sauce before serving or divide the pasta/gnocchi between two bowls and tip the sauce over. Serve sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper.