I know I just wrote quite a long post on Nigella Lawson, and I promised I wouldn’t subject you to another worshiping post for a while. But the folks over at Contadina posed a question that I couldn’t resist but answer…What would I serve the domestic goddess herself if I had her over for dinner?
They didn’t pose the question idly though…it came with a grocery raid. And if you know me, “raid a grocery” is among the top ten sports I would invent if I ruled the world.
(but I don’t, so grocery raiding, along with napping, wire whisk collecting, and yogurt-bowl-making will sadly remain non-sports for now…but moving right along…)
So…would I raid a grocery and make a dish for an imaginary dinner for Nigella Lawson? I think you already know the answer to that question.
Now, what to make? What to make the woman who I have watched countless times, been inspired by, who has authored cookbooks and starred in her own cooking shows? What to make her using products commonly used in Italian cooking, when she herself learned to cook Italian by the side of Italian nonnas?
Something she hasn’t tasted before, that’s what. Thankfully, my living on a little group of islands in Southeast Asia is a boon in this case! Even if she has graced our shores, there is sure to be something she hasn’t tasted yet.
Although I’m not 100% sure if she has or hasn’t tasted our longganisa, I figured her guides here must have plied her with so much adobo that they missed our humble little sausage.
But Nigella does like sausage! I’ve seen her cook with English sausage, Italian sausage, and even Spanish chorizo.
So I figured this would be perfect: take something of mine (our beloved longganisa) and prepare it in a way that is familiar and comforting (I’ve seen her make various forms of ragu in her cooking shows).
This is what I came up with…
Longganisa Ragu with Fried Kesong Puti and Asian Herbs
- 500 grams Contadina spaghetti or linguine
- Contadina pure olive oil
- 1-2 small red onions, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 500 grams longganisa of your choice, removed from casings
- 2 cans Contadina crushed tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 200 grams kesong puti (our local fresh white cheese), sliced into squares
- 5 spring/green onions, chopped
- 2-3 sprigs cilantro, leaves picked
– Bring a large skillet with high sides, or a pot, to medium high heat. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot add the onions, garlic, and bay leaf and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
– Add the longganisa to the pan and sauté, stirring and breaking up lumps with your spoon. You want it to resemble ground meat. Let this cook until the oil renders and the logganisa is browned. At this point you can decide to remove some of the oil in the pan if you are health conscious (I didn’t).
– Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced a bit and slightly thickened. You want a nice thick sauce that is rich and not too watery. You also want the flavors from your longganisa to properly permeate the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may not need much if your longganisa was strongly flavored.
– While the sauce is cooking prepare your pasta noodles as per package directions.
– When everything is ready fry your kesong puti: Bring a pan to high heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pieces of kesong puti and fry on each side just until slightly bronzed. This won’t take long!
– Top the noodles with the sauce, fried kesong puti, green onions, and cilantro.
When I made this I thought, why stop at longganisa? So I decided to make both the cheese and the herbs Filipino as well. I topped the pasta with fried kesong puti and cilantro and spring onions…all evoking our local flavors.
I used a combination of a sweet-style hamondao-type longganisa and a more savory recado-type. I wanted to add a bit of both sides of our longganisa flavor spectrum in the sauce. But I encourage you to use your favorite longganisa when making this, or better yet, experiment with different types.
Our brazenly spiced local sausages, I feel, really add punch to the traditional ragu. And the kesong puti and Asian herbs are the perfect counterpoint for it. I know I made this with Nigella in mind but now I want to share it with all of you! If you ever do give it a try let me know ok?
So here it is…imaginary dinner with my icon (I served it up in locally made bowls too…crafted by a very talented potter!)! Maybe one day we will meet again, and I will actually have the chance to say something, but until then, at least, I have, we both have, food in common.