This was a surprisingly excellent hit with the mister. We’re very particular with our after work weeknight dinners, because I’d like to think we work extra hard during the day at the office and at the gym, and therefore deserve a rewarding meal at night. This dish was also a complete pantry raid: bacon, parmesan cheese (eventhough it was the pre-grated packaged kind, it still did ithe job), sun dried tomatoes. Mixed with my most favourite pasta in the whole wide world Barilla (seriously, their pasta is outrageously delicious!) and this jar of Barilla’s Red Wine & Garlic pasta sauce in their new family favourites size.
I’m almost tempted to not call this a recipe. Bacon, garlic, onion, sun dried tomatoes, the pasta sauce, poured over a bowl of freshly cooked pasta. Easy peasy.
Confession: I have always been a big fan of ready made sauces in jars. Mr J would rather make his own, which is perfectly fine with me. There’s nothing like freshly made pasta, mixed with freshly made sauce. But for someone who averages 12 hours a day at work and goes to the gym afterwards, time is a luxury and ready made sauces are lifesavers.
Thanks to Barilla and Isabel from Digivizer, I got a little bit creative with these pastas and sauces. I was able to mix both the ready made sauces and pastas with some fresh ingredients from my pantry. Plus, I needed to use up whatever I have in my pantry and fridge. The Barilla olive sauce was the perfect tasty base for my “pantry-and-fridge-raid” sauce.
Go ahead, get creative!
Barilla Papardelle Bolognesi with sun dried tomatoes & Barilla Olive Sauce
Makes approximately 4 servings
250g pack of Barilla Papardelle Bolognesi1 jar of Barilla Olive sauce
4 “halves” of sun dried tomatoes, chopped roughly
About 30g green peas
1 onion, chopped
Handful of parsley
1. Cook the pasta as per instructions. Set aside.
2. In a pan, saute the onions and freen peas. Add the sun dried tomatoes.
3. Add the olive sauce. Simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.
4. Add the parsley, toss the pasta and parmesan cheese. Cover for about 1 minute.
5. Plate up the pasta and sprinkle with fresh parsley and cheese.
6. Serve with taosted “garlic” sourdough bread. Enjoy!
Barilla pasta and sauce were courtesy of Barilla and Isabel from Digivizer.
For me, the whole dining experience does not start and stop at the food. Sure, the food must absolutely appeal to one’s palate, however there is a myriad of factors at work that makes one’s dining experience enjoyable AND memorable. In my case, I’m not a hard soul to please. As long as great food is placed infront of me by warm, friendly staff with good customer service and in an equally friendly atmosphere, then I’m a happy camper.
And true enough, all boxes were ticked when Mr J and I decided to pay the Queen of Twitter, Carm, a visit at their restaurant at Russell Lea, La Casa Ristorante. Even from the word go, Carm is already a kindred spirit – a few Tweets here and there and next thing you know, a table was booked and dinner planned. I remember it all too well: it was a scorchingly hot day in Sydney as we walked inside the restaurant in our plain shirts, shorts and sandals. Upon coming inside the restaurant, Carm was already waiting – pen in one hand, organiser in the other, with that radiant smile that lights up the room instantly. In true Italian style, Carm started walking towards us, gave us the warmest hugs imaginable, planted kisses in our cheeks, and welcomed us to her humble (more like hustling and bustling) abode. She gestured the table close to the airconditioning to relieve us from the heat outside and pointed to the ceiling “I give you the table with the best lighting for your photos!”. Oh Carm, you are an angel. And all of this in our first 5 minutes at La Casa.
I knew it was going to be an absolutely fantastic evening. And it was.
First was some complimentary Peroni & Prosecco (and a bit of excited Tweeting!)
In true Italian style, the first dish that makes an appearance was the antipasto plate. Now, I’m no Italian, but this was certainly top of the tops! I’m such an antipasto plate fan that I try and recreate this at home with a bottle of wine (note: a bottle, not a glass) for dinner. The only thing I can never get hold of is good, really good, really really good jamon prosciutto. It’s prosciutto, Trish. You’re in Italy, not Spain. Get it right.
The prosciutto was melt in your mouth goodness, the artichokes just the right vinegar bite, and the grilled eggplants were softly cooked with that distinct smokey taste.
Now, I must stress this next point. Because it’s the purpose of your La Casa visit.
You can never, ever visit La Casa without trying out the meatballs. Yes, the meatballs. The special dish that truly makes La Casa the warm, hospitable, loud, entertaining Italian house that you love to visit all the time. This meatball recipe is the brother & sister tandem of Tony & Carm’s Mama’s recipe – so you can see how special this is and why you must, must must try it? For extra points, please use the wood fired bread to clean up any extra sauce on your plate.
We look at Sicilian photos on the walls, and plotted to take them away one day when Carm isn’t looking and place them in our own walls. Because they’re that gorgeous.
For some not-so-strange reason, Mr J is on a meatfest. Everywhere he goes, he orders red meat. And not just any meat, but ribs. Tender, melt off the bone, sweet and smokey ribs. From Cafe Ish to La Casa, Mr J just can’t get enough of these babies. Ah well… man, meat, beer… do I see Sam Neil in the background dancing?
Wait, we’re in an Italian restaurant. Something’s missing. Where’s the pasta?
Of course there’s the pasta. How can I pass up a plate of fresh, al dente pasta, with succulent prawns and that bite of tangy tomato and chilli sauce?
Throughout the course of the night, our table was graced with Carm and Tony’s charming repartee (at one point someone stole someone else’s bottle of Peroni – I can’t remember who but the conversation that followed was hilarious!), and the entertaining antics of Tony who has a soft spot for foodbloggers. “You’ve got a big camera! You must be one of those foodbloggers! Hah hah hah”.
And then we were offered some gelato. Who were we to resist?
Thanks Carm and Tony and the team at La Casa – the food, hospitality and customer service encapsulated a remarkable dining experience.