tagliatelle with courgette and pancetta

this is a great dish to make while courgettes are still in season and full of flavour, especially if you’re lucky enough to be growing your own and able to eat them when they are freshly picked (people always talk about a freshly picked tomato having more flavour than those you can buy, for me it is courgettes that most repay your home-gardening efforts).

the courgettes are the star of the dish, sautéed in butter until they start to turn golden. they also soak up the porky goodness of pancetta (if you want to keep this veggie i think sundried tomatoes can do a similar job) and i added a little garlic and chilli as well. 

the genius ingredient, which gets everything to work together, is capers. lemon is my default choice when i want something sharp or fresh in a dish, but the salty capers give a more subtle tang which, i think, works particularly well with butteriness of the rest of the dish. parsley and basil to finish.

nigel slater's tagliatelle with summer vegetables and bacon (serves 2)

the recipe: roughly chop 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon (i used pancetta). melt about 50g of butter in a shallow pan, add the bacon and let it cook over a moderate heat till the fat starts to turn pale gold. roughly chop 2 large green or yellow courgettes, add them to the pan and continue cooking till they are soft and golden (i also added some chopped garlic and chilli at this stage). add a tablespoon of capers, then pepper and a little salt (i didn’t need salt so be careful). chop a good handful of parsley (i also chopped some basil). while the courgettes are cooking, boil 150g tagliatelle till al dente in deep, salted water, and drain. toss the courgettes, parsley (basil) and pasta together.

the trick: timing. get the courgettes started, then put the pasta on. they should both be ready at the same time.

the twist: add cherry tomatoes, halved, to the courgettes as they soften. include basil leaves, crushed garlic or chopped anchovies in with the courgette mixture.