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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Who knew this was a thing? The ragu is made from whole lamb neck fillets which are cooked in a low oven for many hours and then shredded into the sauce. The result is absolutely delicious and much less laborious than our traditional version. You can make the lamb layer well in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Wine Suggestion: to match the rich lamb and cheese we opened a Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas from the Douro. We’d kept this a few years from release and the layers of gentle spices had grown, the tannins softened to a back note, and the fruit had somehow got richer without adding any weight. A beautiful wine and an equitable accompaniment to a dish like this.

Braised lamb lasagne – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • lamb neck fillets, about 400g in total
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 500g carton passata
  • 500ml full-fat milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 70g Parmesan, grated
  • 6 lasagne sheets
  • 2 mozzarella balls, torn into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • dressed salad and garlic bread to serve

Heat the oven to 130C/110C fan/gas 1.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole, season the lamb generously, then fry until well browned all over, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute, then pour over the passata. Rinse out the carton with a splash of water and add this too. Season again, then cover tightly with foil, followed by the lid. Cook in the oven for at least 3½ or up to 4 hours by which time is should be very easy to shred. Leave it to cool a bit, then use a couple of forks to shred the lamb into the sauce.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until just simmering. Melt the butter in another saucepan, then stir in the flour to form a paste. Gradually whisk in the hot milk until you have a smooth glossy sauce. Stir in half the Parmesan and season.

Meanwhile, soak the lasagne sheets in just-boiled water to soften, then drain.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Spread a thin layer of lamb sauce on the bottom of a small lasagne dish (it should fit two lasagne sheets without overlapping). Top with two lasagne sheets, then cover with a third of the béchamel and a third of the mozzarella. Add half of the remaining lamb sauce, then top this with 2 lasagne sheets and another third of the béchamel and mozzarella. Repeat once more, then sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan and the panko breadcrumbs.

Bake for 35 minutes, then turn the oven up to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Bake for another 10 minutes to brown the top, then leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We loved these little meatballs by Diana Henry. Super tasty and very popular with our 7 year old. We served them with spaghetti and some home-made tomato sauce but we also like Diana’s suggestion of stuffing them into a wrap with some lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Will definitely be trying this suggestion next time.

Wine Suggestion: We think that Sangiovese plays a wonderful balance of power without weight, especially when it avoids too much extraction or oak. A new find, courtesy of an old friend is the Tenuta di Carleone Chianti Classico. Quite new, in the scheme of things but an old property and vineyard, this is biodynamic and delicious.

Chicken, spinach and cheese polpette – serves 6

  • 500g minced chicken
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 20g grated Parmesan
  • 60g grated Gruyère
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, or a small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200g spinach (discard any thick stems)
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
  • a generous grating of nutmeg
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Put the chicken mince into a large bowl with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying and sauté the onion gently until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Put the spinach into a large pan with couple of tbsp of water and cover with a lid. Put over a low heat until wilted, about 4 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Add the cooled onion to the chicken with the thyme, nutmeg, lemon zest and lots of seasoning.

Squeeze the spinach with your hands to remove the water, then finely chop. Add this to the bowl with everything else and mix well with your hands.

Wet your hands, form the mixture into little meatballs and place on a baking tray. Diana suggests the size of a walnut in its shell which should give about 50 meatballs. I think we only got to about 36 so ours must of been a bit bigger – no matter.

Cover the tray and put the meatballs into the fridge for half an hour or so to allow them to firm up.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the polpette in batches over a medium heat, until they have turned crusty brown all over. Return them all to the pan, lower the heat, and continue to cook for about 7 minute or until cooked through. You can cut into one to check there’s no pink.

(Original recipe from A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

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This is a good family meal, with lots of veg and a rich creamy sauce – it’s really filling. Quick and easy too and you can  double to serve many people or a crowd of kids, when crowds of kids exist again.

Wine Suggestion: This goes really well with a white that can cope with a rich, creamy dish.Keeping the Italian theme we’d suggest a good Verdicchio which tend to strike a nice balance between a fuller body, polyphenols (those white wine tannins that give texture and grip) and a nutty, saline freshness. The textures and the body make it work with the marscapone, ham and tomatoes especially well.

Farfalle with peas, mushrooms & ham – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a small onion, finely sliced
  • 125g diced cooked ham
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 75g mascarpone cheese
  • 250g farfalle pasta
  • a small handful of chopped basil
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Bring a very big pot of water to the boil and add lots of fine salt.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes over a medium heat. Add the ham, peas and mushrooms and keep cooking for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, stir well and simmer gently for about 8 minutes, uncovered. Add the mascarpone, season well, then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente, then drain and tip back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then add the basil and stir together for about 30 seconds. Serve in warm bowls with Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

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We have a 7 year old at home who is usually very good at eating pretty much anything we put in front of her. Recently though, she’s gone a bit fussy and very plain in her requests. We’re remaining calm and trying to cook some kid-friendly food to coax her back to her adventurous self. Served with salad and garlic bread, the dish was scraped clean.

Wine Suggestion: Youthful, Italian reds are the order of the day, be it a Sangiovese or Montepulciano, or tonight’s choice of Barbera from Pico Maccario in the Piedmont.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni – serves 6

  • butter for greasing the dish
  • 18 cannelloni tubes (you can use a few more if you have extra filling and enough room in your dish)
  • 30g Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 300ml chicken stock or veg stock
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 60g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 500g spinach leaves, chopped
  • 500g ricotta cheese
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg

Make the tomato sauce first by heating the oil in a saucepan, then adding the celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook gently for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the stock, tomatoes and tomato purée, then season well with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer, stirring now and then, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling by heating the oil in a large pan, then add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the spinach and cook over a high heat for a couple of minute until completely wilted. Cool slightly, then stir in the ricotta, nutmeg and plenty of seasoning.

Purée the tomato sauce in a food processor, then stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.

Grease a large ovenproof dish in which the cannelloni tubes can lie in a single layer.

Spoon the filling into the cannelloni tubes. Two teaspoons works best for this; 1 to spoon the filling into the tube, and use the opposite end of the other spoon to push the filling down into the tube.

Arrange the filled cannelloni in the dish, then cover with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, then serve with extra Parmesan on top.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook, DK, 1995.)

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This is an Anthony Bourdain recipe. It’s a bit full on, like the man himself was, with obscene amounts of garlic, but it all works a treat. We made this with cockles tonight as our local fish shop didn’t have clams and it was equally delicious. If you decide to follow our lead with cockles be careful as they cook more quickly than clams.

Wine Suggestion: A seafood friendly wine, the Dominio de Tares “La Sonrisa” Godello from Bierzo in Spain. La Sonrisa means smile and well named indeed

Linguine with white clam sauce – serves 4

  • 5 dozen clams, soaked in lots of fresh water for an hour or so before cooking
  • 4 tbsp top quality olive oil
  • 12 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, we used chilli flakes, reduce the quantity if you don’t like it too hot
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 450g linguine
  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into a few pieces
  • a large handful of coarsely chopped parsley leaves

Put 2-3cm of water into a large, heavy saucepan, season generously with salt and bring to the boil. Gently transfer 4 dozen of the 5 dozen clams into the pot, cover and steam until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Move them around occasionally with a spoon and remove to a bowl as they open. Don’t throw away the cooking liquid.

When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from the shell, collecting as much of the liquor from the shells as possible. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with a cloth into a small bowl.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of very salty water.

Warm the oil in a large, heavy sauté pan, then add the garlic and chilli flakes. Cook over a medium-low heat, until softened but not browned. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce by half. Add the reserved liquor from the clam shells and a good splash of the cooking liquid, then the remaining uncooked clams. Cover and cook until the clams have opened. Remove to a warm bowl as they open.

Add the reserved cooked clams to the sauté pan and season with salt and pepper. Add the butter, some of the parsley, and toss until everything is hot.

Drain the pasta, but keep a little cooking water in case you need to loosen the sauce. Immediately add the pasta to the clam pan and toss over the heat for 1 minutes, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Divide the pasta between warmed bowls and garnish with the parsley and clams in their shells.

(Original recipe from Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.)

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This is a simple tomato sauce for pasta with a bit of magic from Marcella Hazan that makes it taste special. The sauce is intensely mushroomy and absolutely delicious. We don’t often cook from Marcella’s The Essentials of Italian Cooking but we are never disappointed when we do.

Wine Suggestion: This needs a simple red, but with a vibrant core and a new favourite for this brief is the Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero “Serrano”. Mostly Montepulciano but with a touch of Sangiovese this is engagingly easy to drink with ripe cherry flavours and a round and juicy core of fruit; very pleasurable without being too weighty.

Tomato sauce with porcini mushrooms – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped shallot or onion
  • 35g butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp pancetta/prosciutto cut in strips, we used cubed pancetta
  • 400g top quality plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted (see below)
  • 450g pasta, we used penne, cooked to serve
  • freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

To reconstitute the mushrooms: soak the mushrooms in 500ml of barely warm for at least 30 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out of the water and squeeze out as much water as possible, do this over the bowl to catch the liquid. Rinse the mushrooms if needed to get rid of any soil, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Reserve the liquid.

Put the shallot into a saucepan with the butter and oil, over a medium heat. Cook until the shallot turns pale golden, then add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes, the reconstituted mushrooms, the reserved mushroom liquid, salt and plenty of black pepper. Let the sauce bubble at a steady simmer for about 40 minutes, you want the fat and the tomato to separate and the sauce to reduce to a nice consistency. Turn it up and bubble a bit faster to reduce if you need.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from The Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, Macmillan London Limited, 1992.)

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This pasta dish by Gizzi Erskine certainly packs a punch. Roasted cauliflower is a bit trendy at the moment but we don’t think we’ll tire of it and the additions of preserved lemon, chilli and cream makes a great combination.

Wine Suggestion: The Edetària via Edetana Blanc from DO Terra Alta, near Tarragona in Spain is an old vine Granacha Blanca (70%) with the remainder being Viognier. Wonderfully bright and pure with both an exotic lushness and cream on the palate as well as a blindingly salty, mineral finish. Bravo to the winemakers.

Roasted cauliflower, preserved lemon and chilli pasta – serves 4

  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets, and the inner leaves
  • 100ml olive oil, plus 1 tbsp for roasting the cauliflower
  • 40g rye bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs (we used some stale sourdough which worked perfectly too)
  • 250g ditali pasta, macaroni, mezzi, rigatoni or orecchiette
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 dried chilli, crushed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g sour cream
  • 80g Parmesan, grated
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
  • 2 preserved lemons, pips discarded and skin thinly sliced
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to very hot, about 260C/Gas 10 or as high as your oven goes.

Spread the cauliflower and leaves on a baking tray, drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Toss with your hands to coat in the oil. Roast in the hot over for 15 minutes, until cooked through and browned, a bit of charring is fine.

Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until crispy and golden, then drain on some kitchen paper and set aside.

Cook the pasta in lots of very salty water for a couple minutes less than the pack instructions, it will finish cooking in the sauce. Drain, and keep 100ml of the pasta cooking water in case you need to thin the sauce later.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the rest of the oil in a separate frying pan with the garlic and chilli and cook gently for 5 minutes, until softened, then set aside.

Whisk the egg yolks, cream and Parmesan together in a bowl. Put the pasta pan back over a medium heat and stir in the egg mixture, then the garlic and chilli oil, parsley, preserved lemon, lemon zest and plenty of black pepper. Mix for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens slightly, check for seasoning and stir through the roasted cauliflower. You can loosen a little with the reserved pasta cooking water if needed. Serve on warm plates with the crispy breadcrumbs sprinkled over and a little extra Parmesan if you like.

(Original recipe from Restore by Gizzi Erskine, HQ, 2020.)

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We love cavolo nero and it was so good in this simple pasta dish. No cheese and you won’t miss it as this has a really deep, savoury flavour.

Wine Suggestion: The beauty of this dish is the immediacy and simplicity, so a young red with joyful fruit as you’ll find in Beaujolais is perfect. If you find yourself in Nouveau season then hunt out a good bottle from a quality producer. We’re a few weeks out but had a bottle from Domaine Chasselay still hanging around and it was joyful.

Orecchiette with anchovies, cavolo nero and caramelised onions – serves 2

  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 200g orecchiette
  • 4 anchovies in olive oil, drained and cut into pieces
  • 100g cavolo nero, discard the woody stalks and shred the leaves

Fry the onions in a little oil and butter over a medium heat until golden and caramelised, about 30 minutes. Don’t rush this stage as you want proper caramelisation. If they start to stick, just add a splash of water.

Meanwhile, boil the orecchiette in lots of very salty water according to the timing on the pack. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain it.

Add the cavolo nero and anchovies to the onions and fry for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted and the cavolo nero has wilted. Add a little more butter if the onions stick. Tip in the drained pasta and a splash of cooking water. Season well and toss to coat.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, November 2016.)

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This is very rich and luxurious, and needs a sharp salad to go along with it. Nigel Slater’s addition of basil sauce is a great idea and makes a super tasty dish.

Wine Suggestion: We suspect a good Nebbiolo would work with this but in the absence one in our rack tonight we chose Domaine Jamet’s Cotes du Rhone. Made from 100% Syrah in the Northern Rhone it still has a hint of richness and spice as if it has a Gigondas influence but also the earthy, leather spice of the North. 

Mushroom lasagne with basil and cream – serves 6

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 small cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • a thick slice of butter
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 750g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • a good handful of chopped parsley
  • 5 tbsp of freshly grated Parmesan, plus an extra 3 tbsp for the top
  • 150ml double cream
  • 750ml béchamel sauce (Nigel suggests you can use ready-made for this but if you want to make your own we’ve included a recipe below – a pint should be plenty).
  • 350g fresh lasagne sheets (dried can be used either)

FOR THE BASIL SAUCE

  • 60g pine nuts
  • 50g basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan

To make a pint of béchamel sauce, melt 2oz of butter in a medium-sized saucepan, then stir in 2oz of plain flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add a pint of full-fat milk, stirring continuously and only adding a bit more when the previous bit has been absorbed. Keep stirring until all of the milk has been added and the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan, then add the onions and garlic and cook gently for about 20 minutes, or until softened and translucent.

Meanwhile, cover the dried porcini with warm water – no more than 100ml – and leave to soak.

To make the basil sauce, whizz the pine nuts, basil, garlic, some olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor. You need enough oil to form a sloppy paste. Alternatively you can crush the garlic with a little salt in a mortar, then mash in the basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil.

Stir the sliced mushrooms into the onions and partially cover with a lid. Leave to colour and soften, then add the dried mushrooms with their soaking liquid, the parsley, 5 tbsp of Parmesan and the cream. Season well with salt and black pepper, then simmer until the mixture has reduced and thickened a bit.

To assemble the lasagne, take a large casserole dish and spread a few tbsp of the béchamel over the bottom. Cover with a layer of pasta, then half the mushroom filling. Add another layer of pasta, then a second layer of mushrooms. Top with a final layer of pasta, then spread over the basil sauce. Cover the top completely with the rest of the béchamel and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 180C/Gas 4 for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2005.)

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Game season comes and goes every year and sometimes we don’t get around to cooking any before it’s over, which is a shame as we love the flavours. This year, however, we got ourselves organised and made this rich and full-flavoured pheasant ragu for pasta. Your butcher should be able to order a pheasant for you if it’s not something they usually stock.

Wine Suggestion: Find yourself a good Nebbiolo with a little bit of age on it. Sitting in our cellar was a Pira Luigi Barolo Marenca from 2012. A combination of fresh, dried and morello cherry flavours with classic rose and tar aromas; massive, under-stated power, elegantly refined and opening up beautifully over a number of hours. At eight years old this is still evolving nicely and has a good life ahead of it … wish we had a few more!

Pheasant ragu for pasta – serves 4

  • 250ml chicken stock
  • a handful of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 pheasant
  • 80g pancetta cubes
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a bay leaf
  • 125ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ lemon
  • 400g tagliatelle, cooked to serve
  • Parmesan, to serve

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer, then add the mushrooms and leave them in the hot stock while you brown the pheasant.

Brown the pheasant in a heavy-based casserole dish in a little olive oil, you want it to be nicely coloured on all sides. When the pheasant is browned, add the pancetta cubes and allow to brown. Add the shallots and garlic and stir for a minute before adding the bay leaf. Pour in the white wine and bubble for a minute. Add the stock and the mushrooms, leave any gritty bits behind in the pan. Season well and bring to a simmer, then cover with a tight lid and cook gently for about an hour or until the meat starts to fall off the bones.

Remove the pheasant from the pan and discard the bay leaf. Let the pheasant cook for a bit, then strip the meat off the bones and tear into pieces. Meanwhile, simmer the sauce to thicken it a little and cook the tagliatelle in lots of salty water.

Return the shredded pheasant to the sauce with the chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss with the tagliatelle and serve with Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in Olive Magazine, October 2014.)

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We grew borlotti beans in our little city garden this year. We didn’t get a huge crop but satisfying nonetheless. As we had a load of things going on when we picked these, we froze them for a couple of weeks until we were ready. It made this lovely pasta and bean dish by Joe Trivelli and it felt a bit like late summer again for a moment.

Wine Suggestion: A crisp, dry White or Rosé would be our first choice with a seafood pasta like this. As it’s full flavoured we avoided a lighter style and went for Graziano Pra’s Soave “Otto”, vibrantly full of crisp apples and pears, impressive length and a nutty, saline finish

Pasta with Beans & Mussels – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels
  • 300g fresh borlotti beans
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 celery stick, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 200g tubetti pasta

Put the beans into a large pan with 4 of the garlic cloves, the celery and tomato. Cover with 6cm of water and a splash of olive oil, then bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large pan until hot, then add the mussels with a tablespoon of oil and the wine. Cover and keep over a hight heat, shaking, until the mussels have just opened. then drain into a colander over a bowl to catch the juice. Don’t be tempted to cook them for any longer. Pick the mussels from the shells.

When the beans are cooked, chop the last clove of garlic. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic, most of the parsley and the chilli and fry for  a minute before adding the anchovies. As soon as they have melted, pour over the mussel juice (leave any grit behind) and bring to the boil. Add the borlotti beans with their liquid and the pasta.

Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring often so the pasta doesn’t stick. You can add more hot water if you need. When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, add the rest of the parsley, the mussels and seasoning. Cover and leave to sit off the heat for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials, 2018.)

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We occasionally go to Lidl, when they have those country promotions on, for the white anchovies in the fridge section. Last time it was a Spanish promotion and we also grabbed a tin of artichokes which we used tonight for a mid-week pasta dish with spaghetti and pesto.

The pesto we used was an oregano version that we made in the summer and stashed in the freezer. Very happy diners!

Wine Suggestion: Artichokes are hard to match as they make most grape varieties taste metallic. However, Grüner Veltliner with its higher umami savouriness, really works. We opened a bottle of Höpler’s GV grown in Burgenland which is better known for it’s reds and sweet wines and goes to show how a great site always wins. Their GV vineyard reliably produces delightful wines and the current vintage is a gem; vibrant and fresh with hints of white pepper, pears and lemony citrus zest.

Spaghetti with artichokes & pesto – serves 4

  • 350g spaghetti
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp green pesto
  • 50g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
  • 390g tin artichokes, drained, quartered and dried
  • 50g pine nuts

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden brown, then set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in lots of boiling salty water according to the time given on the pack.

Meanwhile, gently mix the eggs, milk, pesto, Parmesan, and artichokes, together in a bowl, then season.

Drain the cooked spaghetti in a colander and return to the hot saucepan. Immediately add the egg and pesto mixture and stir gently until it forms a silky sauce.

Stir in the toasted pine nuts and serve in warm bowls with some extra Parmesan and a drizzle of your best olive oil if you like.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Roast long-stemmed Broccoli & Lemon Pasta

This is simplicity itself and the roasted lemon, garlic and broccoli really pack it full of flavour. Perfect for a weeknight.

Wine Suggestion: perfect with an unsung Italian white from the Abruzzo region: Pecorino.

Roast long-stemmed broccoli & lemon pasta – serves 2

  • 300g long-stemmed broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, skin on
  • ½ a lemon, zested
  • 200g short pasta, we used penne
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated, plus a bit extra to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the broccoli into a bowl with the 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with Maldon sea salt and black pepper. Toss with your hands to coat then spread over an oven tray.

Wrap the garlic clove in tinfoil and add to the tray along with the zested lemon half. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until tender and starting to char.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the timings on the pack, then drain but keep a cup of the pasta cooking water.

Squeeze the roasted lemon into the empty pasta pan, then add the zest and squeeze the garlic from it’s skin into the pan. Mash together, then tip the pasta back in with the Parmesan and a good splash of the cooking water. Stir over the heat for a minute, then add the roasted broccoli and toss. Serve with more Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil if you like.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, September 2016.)

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Chorizo, Orzo & Sweetcorn Stew

A colourful dish for midweek, just as flavoursome as the colours suggest.

Chorizo, orzo & sweetcorn stew – serves 2

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a bunch of scallions, sliced, keep the green and white parts separated
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 50g chorizo, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 75g orzo
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 200g tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 350ml chicken or veg stock
  • ½ small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the white parts of the scallions with the peppers and chorizo for about 8 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the chorizo taking on some colour.

Stir in the garlic, orzo, paprika, sweetcorn and tomato and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring, until the orzo is tender.

Stir in the parsley, the green scallions and the lemon zest and juice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Cheesy Ham Hock, Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne

This is a nice crowd pleaser and kept us entertained for a while on a miserable day in Dublin. You can buy shredded ham hock in supermarkets now which makes this a great prep-ahead lunch for friends.

Wine Suggestion: Tonights choice to match the dish was provided by a friend, the Chateau La Bienveillance Sémillon 2019, a delightful and easy white which had a little texture and freshness to balance the cheese, plus a little earthiness which went well with spinach. If you can’t find Semillon then Chenin Blanc will work as well.

Cheesy ham hock, spinach & ricotta lasagne – serves 6

  • 70g butter
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 80g grated Parmesan or Gruyère (we had both in the fridge so used a mixture)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 600g spinach (the big-leafed stuff works best here)
  • 250g ricotta
  • a grating of nutmeg
  • 300g shredded ham hock (if you can’t find ham hock you can use shred thick-cut ham)
  • 12 dried lasagne sheets
  • 50g grated mozzarella

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk (you can use a whisk if you want but I prefer to use a wooden spoon). Add the bay leaf then put back over the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened. Take off the heat again and stir in 50g of the Parmesan/Gruyère, the mustard and the cayenne pepper. Season.

Put the spinach into a large pan with a small amount of boiling water, about 100ml. Cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes until wilted, careful it doesn’t boil dry. Drain in a colander, then leave to cool. When cool enough to handle put the spinach into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water. Tip the spinach into a food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add the ricotta and pulse again to combine. Grate in a little nutmeg and season.

Heat the oven to 200C/180 fan/gas 6.

Spoon a layer of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a lasagne dish (roughly 24x28cm). Remove the bay leaf when you come across it. Top with a third of the spinach and ricotta mixture, then a third of the ham hock. Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets, snapping them to make them fit if necessary. Repeat the layers with the rest of the ingredients and finish with a layer of lasagne sheets and cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan/Gruyère and the grated mozzarella. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until browned and bubbling (keep an eye on it and if it is browning too much you can cover with foil).

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Orecchiette with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pecorino

We ate this as a main for 2 but it really is flavour-packed and would work really well in smaller portions as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: This strong combination of flavours pairs well with characterful, fuller bodied Italian whites like Verdicchio and one of our favourites, the Sartarelli Classico, was our match this evening.

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pecorino – serves 4 as a starter

  • a large handful of coarse breadcrumbs (we used panko)
  • 100g orecchiette
  • a bunch of long-stemmed broccoli, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 150g cauliflower florets
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 x 45g tin anchovies, drained
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • a large handful of shaved pecorino, to serve (we used Parmesan)

Spread the breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 200ºC for about 8 minutes or until crispy and golden. Leave to cool.

Cook the orecchiette in lots of salty water according to the timing on the pack.

Bring another large pan of salty water to the pan, then blanch the broccoli, followed by the cauliflower, for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat  150ml of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes or until golden. Add the broccoli and cauliflower and toss to combine. Add the breadcrumbs, anchovies and drained orecchiette and heat through, you can add another splash of oil if needed to keep it moist.

Season to taste with salt, then serve with the parsley and pecorino on top.

(Original recipe from Maggies’ Kitchen by Maggie Beer, Lantern, 2008.)

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Creamy tomato, courgette & prawn pasta

There was lots of panic buying in Dublin when we went into lockdown but actually we were able to get pretty much everything, except orecchiette! After four orecchiette-free months we’ve finally got our hands on some. To celebrate we really enjoyed this simple pasta dish with locally grown courgettes.

Wine Suggestion: our choice tonight was a southern Italian white from Fiano made by Michele Biancardi in Puglia. Hints of honey, white flowers and a salty tang this wine speaks of the southern sun, and fresh breezes off the Adriatic seas. Travelling in a glass, when we can’t do it yet physically.

Creamy tomato, courgette & prawn pasta – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large or 400g baby courgettes, sliced
  • 400g orecchiette pasta, or any other small pasta shape
  • 2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes
  • good pinch of sugar
  • 200g raw prawns, peeled
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • small pack basil, leaves only, torn

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, then add the courgettes and cook until starting to soften.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette according to the timing on the pack.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and some salt and pepper to the pan, then simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the prawns to the sauce and stir until they turn pink. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the crème fraîche. Simmer for another couple of minutes to warm through, then add the basil before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Hot Smoked Trout & Dill Spaghetti

A lovely weeknight treat and so easy and quick to make. We used Barbecued Rainbow Trout from Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Kilkenny but any hot smoked trout or salmon will work perfectly.

Wine Suggestion: this works with lightly / judiciously oaked Chardonnay which gives structure and a touch of butteriness but retains the fruit and texture; your choice.

Hot Smoked Trout & Dill Spaghetti – serves 4

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 100g frozen petits pois
  • 100g hot smoked trout or salmon (see above), remove the skin and break into bite-sized chunks
  • a small packet of dill (about 25g), remove any thickish stalks and roughly chop
  • 3 tbsp of crème fraîche

Cook the spaghetti in loads of boiling, very salty water, for a minute less than the time given on the pack. Add the frozen petits pois and cook for another minute, then drain and return to the pan. Reserve some of the pasta water to thin the sauce.

Stir the hot smoked trout, dill, crème fraîche, salt and lots of black pepper into the pasta. Add a couple of tbsp of pasta water to the pan and toss everything together over a very low heat. Keep adding pasta water until you have a silky sauce, then serve in warm bowls.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Ferran Adria's Bolognese

An easy Bolognese that is super tasty and feeds a crowd from one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. Despite having never eaten at his table we completely respect him as this is all about depth of flavour and comfort which says more about his food values than any prettily displayed dish. You should have enough sauce to serve over 20 people so don’t be put off by the large quantities of butter and oil, it makes for a rich and delicious sauce. We’ve made this many times to stash in the freezer but this is the first time we’ve remembered to take a photo.

Wine suggestion: As Ferran is Spanish we went for a red from the same country, the Dominio de Tares Baltos, a Mencia with juicy black fruits, subtle and gentle spices and a vibrant freshness.

Bolognese Sauce – makes 2.5kg (serves many people!)

  • 225g butter
  • 1.2kg beef mince
  • 350g pork sausage meat
  • 500g onions, finely chopped
  • 150g celery, finely chopped
  • 400g carrots, finely chopped
  • 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12g tomato purée
  • 1.6kg tinned chopped tomatoes (4 x 400g tins)
  • a pinch of sugar

Put a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt before adding the beef mince. fry until browned, then add the sausage meat. Cook for another few minutes, then season well with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring, until golden brown.

Put another large pan over a low heat, then add the olive oil. Gently fry the chopped onions, celery and carrot until softened, about 12 minutes.

Add the meat to the vegetables and stir well to combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. Season again with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for 90 minutes, or until the meat is really tender.

Serve with pasta and grated Parmesan of course.

(Original recipe from the Family Meal: Home Cooking With Ferran Adrià, Phaidon, 2011.)

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Broad Bean Carbonara

There has been so many broad beans on our plates in the last couple of weeks, not that we’re complaining, we adore them! The frozen ones are hard to beat as they tend to be small and sweet.

Wine Suggestion: Choose a well made Chardonnay with a deft hand with oak and fresh acidity depending on what you have at hand; Burgundy, Jura, Baden, Stellenbosch, Macedon, Santa Cruz, etc.

Broad bean carbonara – serves 2

  • 85g pancetta (we had bacon lardons which worked perfect)
  • 100g podded and skinned broad beans (put the beans in boiling water for a minute, then refresh under cold water, the skins will slip off easily) – if you’re buying in pods you will need about 400g
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 200g parpardelle pasta (we used tagliatelle but you could use whatever pasta)
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and salt it generously.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan and cook the pancetta/bacon for about 8 minutes or until crisp.

Beat the egg yolks with the cream and season generously with black pepper.

Cook the pasta according to the timings on the pack, then drain, but save a bit of the cooking water.

Toss the pasta with the broad beans and pancetta in the frying pan. Add the egg and cream mixture and stir to coat, you may need some of the pasta water to create a silky sauce. Add half the Parmesan and toss through the pasta, then serve in warm bowls with the extra Parmesan on top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).

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