Just to get your attention, I’m going to say first off that if you love Italian comfort-style food, you’re going to love this recipe for chilli, mushroom and chorizo pasta. It comes from MasterChef Australia magazine, issue #5, and is a creation of former MasterChef Australia contestant Aaron Harvie. I have to admit that while watching this season’s MasterChef, Aaron was not one of my top favorites, especially when Marion lost to him over the satay sauce! However, the recipe he included in this month’s MasterChef magazine makes me realize that Aaron isn’t actually that bad. His food dream is to open a pasta bar, so he gets all my good luck and respect because I just love pasta.
Aaron states in the description of this particular recipe that this is a great pasta to curl up on the couch with for a night at home (I totally agree). His inspiration comes from his local deli’s “amazing” Portuguese chorizo.
Each bite of this pasta is packed full of flavor – from the spicy chorizo, the olives and fresh oregano, basil and rocket -, and includes a tiny bit of background heat from the chillies.
I try to keep it a secret, but I have to admit that I don’t like olives. When I add them to pasta dishes, I tolerate the olives and grimace as I eat them. They have quite a strong taste; I could not would not ever eat one by itself. Yet I do like the different flavor it adds to the dish, if you can understand that!?
Speaking of strong tastes, the recipe also uses bird’s-eye chillies, which are very small and flaming hot. My very first experience with these chillies came about 6 years ago – shortly after I was done chopping them, my fingers felt like they were burning and it continued for hours! That had never happened to me while chopping regular chillies. The next time I chopped bird’s-eye chillies, I used rubber gloves. Since, I have substituted regular, longer chillies and have not had a problem (the longer the chillies are, the less hot they are; the shorter they are, the hotter they are). Besides the fact that I don’t like the taste of fiery chillies, I don’t like my fingers burning!
The main problem I had during the preparation process of this dish was with the chorizo. The ingredient list calls for chorizo sausages to be thinly sliced before cooking. I found it utterly impossible to slice the raw chorizo. Maybe it was just the particular chorizo that I bought? Maybe chorizo is supposed to be more firm when raw? Maybe I just needed a sharper knife? I’m not sure, as this was the first time I’ve eaten chorizo, so I couldn’t tell you. But I will recommend that if your raw chorizo is soft and flimsy like mine was, cook the whole chorizo first, then slice it.
When I realized that slicing the raw chorizo was not going to work, I cut the outer skin of the sausage off, discarded it, and crumbled up the sausage into little meatballs. It might not have the same visual effect as neatly sliced chorizo, but it tastes just the same!
This is one pasta dish that I will, without a doubt, be making again and again. Aaron, if you ever read this, thank you for such a lovely recipe!
- 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 3 chorizo sausages, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 200g button mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped oregano
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped basil, plus extra leaves, to serve
- 120g (1 cup) pitted black kalamata olives, halved
- 4 red bird’s-eye chillies, seeded, finely chopped
- 2x 400g cans Italian diced tomatoes
- 400g long macaroni or other tubular pasta
- 1½ cups wild rocket, plus extra leaves to serve
- 25g (1/3 cup) finely grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve
- Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook chorizo, stirring, for 2 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, onion, mushrooms, oregano, basil and half each of the olives and chillies. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until onion has softened. Stir in tomatoes, bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Reserve pan.
- Return pasta to pan and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the tomato sauce, rocket and parmesan, and toss well to combine.
- Divide pasta among bowls, then top with the remaining olives and chillies. Scatter with extra basil, rocket and parmesan, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to serve.