The more I cook, I the more I think of recipes in terms of the amount of work involved relative to the result – not just in terms of how good the food tastes, but how much the people you serve it to appreciate it. Two examples of things that score very badly on this score – lasagne and Caesar salad. Lasagne takes hours and, though it’s very nice, everyone makes it, it has no novelty value and no-one gets that excited by being served it. Caesar salad is one of the world’s great recipes, but it doesn’t look much; it just looks like a green salad with croutons. The time it takes to make it properly gets you no credit at all.
‘Rewarding recipes’ are the opposite – piss-easy but impressive. No 1 is a pasta recipe.
Put some pasta on to cook. Spaghetti would be fine. With about three or four minutes to go, heat olive oil and put in some crushed garlic, then when the smell rises from the pan (i.e almost immediately) add chopped anchovies and capers. Leave it to cook gently for a minute or two; and that’s your sauce.
It’s the anchovy and garlic that are the key ingredients; you could omit the capers or add some tuna. Fresh parsley is also an excellent addition. Serve with a nice white wine.
Lots of people dislike anchovies or capers or both, so you can’t give this to everyone. In a sense that’s what’s good about the recipe – the flavours are really grown-up, so it tastes much more sophisticated than a lot of these ten-minute foods.