Hitting the hay: paglia e fieno

Sometimes you have to leave London to appreciate what time of year it is. August is just another month in the city but in the countryside the harvest is in full swing and huge balers are working flat out to bind up the straw into enormous golden wheels.

The sight of these huge mountains of hay reminded me of the many nights I spent at Yellow Bar as a student in Florence. We’d scoot into one of the booths, order a vat carafe of house red and a steaming plate of paglia e fieno (straw and hay). No this isn’t some strange student pre-loading ritual – paglia e fieno is the Italian name for green and yellow tagliatelle. In Yellow Bar, they served it with cream, pancetta and mushrooms. It was delicious.

Serves: 2

4 nests of tagliatelle ‘paglia e fieno’

1/2 tub mascarpone

100g bacon, chopped into bite-size pieces. Please note, the fine side of bacon you see above is from Sainsbury’s basics range. 670g for 99p. Yes, really. Amazing how posh it looks when you take it out the shrink wrap and pop it  in a wicker basket.

1 punnet chestnut mushrooms (reduced to 49p), peeled and sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

A spring of thyme

A splash of olive oil

Lashings of parmesan to serve

Salt and pepper to taste

Plunge the pasta into salted boiling water and let it bubble away for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the bacon bits until crispy and brown, then set aside. Then fry the mushrooms, garlic and thyme in a splash of olive oil. Turn off the heat and add in the bacon and mascarpone and stir to a smooth silky sauce.

Drain the pasta, pour into the frying pan to coat with sauce and serve with a bowl of grated parmesan at the table.

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