3 minutes Inspiration

Making Ends Meet – April 2024

This month, Paul Dickson focuses on a store cupboard staple – pasta – and how to get the most out of it, from showstopping specials to waste-saving hacks. Pasta in one form or another is one of the ambient ingredients that is in pretty much every store cupboard in every kitchen. When it comes to keeping costs down and maintaining margins, it’s also one of the best options for creating crowd-pleasing dishes whilst making very few ingredients go a long way. Whether that’s by using just a few high-quality seasonal ingredients and letting them shine, or making use of the great value and high-quality array of ready-to-use sauces on offer to save time and control your margin, pasta is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the modern kitchen.

Elevate A Classic

Lasagne has long been a staple on menus across hospitality, education and care. It’s familiar, comforting, crowd-pleasing and as it can be made in advance, it’s a timesaver during service, with very few trips to the plate. Using dried lasagne sheets straight from the packet is also a massive time and cost saver, and there are so many variations you can create these days to suit all tastes and budgets, including fish and vegetable options. The latest trend is to super-size it by adding many thin layers to create a showstopper. Try my Ultimate Lasagne recipe if you want to keep the Instagram and TikTok generation happy, whilst adding the wow factor to your pasta menu.

Turn Your Bake Into A Cake

Yes, I’ve m mentioned cake and yes, I’m still talking about pasta. Hear me out! This recipe looks special but can be made using as few as three ingredients – dried or fresh penne pasta, a jar of ready to use tomato and basil sauce and grated cheese. It’s also brilliant for using up a batch of Bolognese. It’s just like a pasta bake, but by standing the pasta on its end, you can create a cake which looks strikingly like honeycomb. A slice of this ‘honeycomb cake’ on a plate with a side salad makes for an appealing lunch and an eye-catching menu item.

Waste Saving Hack

If you find yourself with leftover lasagne sheets with no plans to make more lasagne before they’re past their best, don’t throw them away! You can turn them into a whole new pasta dish with very little effort, using this step-by-step guide.

1 – Blanch your lasagne sheets and plunge into iced water to make them pliable.

2 – Pile the blanched sheets on top of each other.

3 – Roll your stack of sheets up.

4 – Slice through the end of the roll at around 1cm intervals to create tagliatelle. Change the width to create different pasta types.

5 – Run your fingers through the pasta to separate

6 – Your tagliatelle is now ready to add to your pasta sauce of choice to heat through for a few minutes before serving.