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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

We’ve been a bit quiet on here because we’ve been spending our evenings outside in the sunshine. This week looks less promising weather-wise so we should get all the recipes we’ve tried posted.

Wine Suggestion: We’d pair this with a current favourite, from Sartarelli’s side project, the Colline Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the rolling hills of Marches, Italy. Fresh and lightly floral, the green apple and pear flavours emphasise the lovely fresh broad beans and the hints of sage and green almonds match the cream and chilli.

Broad beans, mint & chilli pasta – serves 2

  • 200g podded broad beans (we use frozen)
  • 200g pasta e.g. penne
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, remove the seeds and finely slice
  • 1 lemon, zested, plus 1tbsp of juice
  • a knob of butter
  • 30g Parmesan or pecorino, finely grated, plus some extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche
  • a large handful of mint, roughly chopped

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 2-3 minutes, depending on their size. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon, then rinse under cold water to cool. Pop the beans out of their skins and set aside.

Bring the water back to the boil again and add some more salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, skimming off any scum from the surface of the water.

Meanwhile, warm a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, scallions, garlic, chilli, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes without colouring.

Add the butter and broad beans and season with black pepper. Stir to coat the beans in the sauce and crush a few of them with your spoon. Remove the cooked pasta from the water with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the beans. Add an extra couple of spoons of pasta cooking water if you need, then the Parmesan. Toss until the sauce is creamy and glossy, then pour in the cream, followed by the lemon juice and mint. Season to tate and serve in warm bowls with some extra cheese.

(Original recipe by Rosie Birkett in Olive Magazine, June 2021.)

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This is much lighter than your average pasta bake and therefore perfect for midweek. It’s packed full of flavour and you can freeze the leftovers too. Serve with a salad.

Wine Suggestion: Perfect with an easy, mid-weight red like the Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero Serrano, a joyful blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Food friendly and also easy sipping on its own.

Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Bake – serves 6

  • 400g wholewheat penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 250g roasted peppers from a jar, diced
  • 700g jar passata
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 100ml water
  • 200g ricotta cheese
  • a small handful of sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 150g baby spinach
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 125g mozzarella ball, diced
  • 15g Parmesan, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta for the shortest time indicated on the pack, then drain and run under cold water until completely cooled. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in another large saucepan, then cook the onion for about 5 minutes or until softened. Then add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook for a further minute.

Add the roasted peppers, passata, tomatoes and oregano. Pour the 100ml of water into the passata jar, give it a shake, then add this too. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the ricotta and chopped sage together and season with salt and black pepper.

Stir the spinach and basil into the tomato sauce until wilted, then season the sauce with salt and black pepper. Add the pasta and stir to coat in the sauce, then tip it all into a large roasting tray or lasagne dish.

Scatter over the mozzarella, dot with the ricotta mixture and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake on a high shelf in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge, BLOOMSBURY ABSOLUTE, 2018.)

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Given it’s sharp-sour character it can sometimes be tricky to think of what to do with sorrel – so this is a quick and easy recipe for sorrel butter. Delicious with pasta or on fish or chicken. You can make the butter and stash it in the freezer if you happen to have some leftover sorrel from another dish.

Wine Suggestion: This works really well with the Gulfi Valcanzjria. A blend of Chardonnay and Carricante from the slopes of Mt Etna, this fresh and Spring-like as well as having the stuffing to work with the sharp/sour sorrel.

Tagliatelle with sorrel butter & pine nuts – serves 4

  • 2 large handfuls of sorrel leaves, remove the stalks and roughly chop
  • 100g butter, softened
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • 300g tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
  • 75g toasted pine nuts, to serve
  • Parmesan, shaved or grated to serve

Tip the sorrel into a food processor with the butter and lemon juice, then whizz to a paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Scrape the butter out onto a piece of cling film then roll into a log and chill in the fridge. It will be fine there for a few days or you can freeze for a month.

Cook the pasta in very salty water until al dente.

Meanwhile, melt the sorrel butter in a large frying pan. Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta from the cooking water into the frying pan with the butter. Toss the pasta in the butter, then add most of the pine nuts and mix well.

Divide the buttery pasta and pine nuts between warm bowls and scatter with Parmesan and extra pine nuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is nice soup for Spring. It’s filling and definitely tastes better by the second or third day. Ham hocks are still cheap, despite becoming a bit trendy, and they make a great stock. 

Ham hock, pea & scallion soup – serves 6

  • 800g uncooked ham hock
  • 2 bay leaves, scrunched
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 200g frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)
  • 100g small pasta shapes, cooked as per timings on the pack
  • a knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon (optional)

Put the ham into a large, deep saucepan and cover with enough cold water to just cover, then bring to the boil. Drain, then refill the pan with fresh water, adding the bay and peppercorns. Bring the pan up to the boil again, skim off any froth, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until the ham is tender the whole way through when pierced with a skewer. 

Remove the ham from the liquid and set aside. Add the peas to the stock and cook for a minute until tender (5 minutes if using fresh peas). Add the cooked pasta and leave on the heat. 

While the peas are cooking, heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat and fry the scallions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add to the stock along with the parsley. 

Shred the cooked ham from the bone, removing any skin and excess fat, then add to the soup. Season generously with salt and pepper and add a spritz of lemon juice if you like. 

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thompson, Quadrille, 2020.)

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This pasta bake from the Falastin book would make a great party dish. We’re still a good way off holding a party in terms of restrictions but we’re very happy to have heaps of leftovers. It’s full of warm spices and the feta on the top makes it a bit different from the more familiar pasta bakes. If you make the ragu the day before it’s pretty straightforward to assemble and bake when you need it. If you do this, warm the ragu slowly first before adding the pasta.

Wine Suggestion: this goes great with a warmly, spiced southern French or Spanish red. Our choice tonight is a rarity, a wine from the Southern part of Aragon near the provincial city of Teruel. An ancient inland region of Spain that was de-populated during the civil war and is being rejuvinated by some young winemakers replanting the vineyard terraces of their grandparents. The Jesus Romero Rubus is a Garnacha Tempranillo organically grown and made without intervention, but with a lot of love and care to avoid any bacterial issues. Joyful red and black fruits, warm spices and refined tannins.

Spicy pasta bake – serves 6 generously

FOR THE RAGU:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 2 green peppers, roughly chopped
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g beef mince (not too lean, about 20% fat if possible)
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 5-6 plum tomatoes, coarsely grate and discard the skins – if you have a mouli you could use this
  • 2 red peppers, cut into rough 3cm dice
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 20g parsley, roughly chopped, plus a bit extra to serve

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL:

  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 130g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 egg yolks

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

  • 350g macaroni pasta or similar
  • 180g feta, roughly crumbled
  • ¾ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes, to serve

First make the bolognese. Put the onion, celery and green peppers into a food processor and pulse briefly, until finely chopped.

Put the butter and oil into a large, heavy saucepan and put over a medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for 7 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic, tomato purée, oregano, spices and bay leaves and cook for a minute.

Add the beef mince and cook for a few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until no pink bits remain.

Add the tinned and fresh tomatoes, red peppers, sugar, 100ml of water, 2¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer very gently for 2½ hours, stirring roughly every 30 minutes, until the sauce is thick and rich. We took the lid off for the last half an hour as our ragu was very liquid. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the parsley and set aside until needed.

To make the béchamel, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, stir or whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking or stirring continuously. Reduce the heat to medium, add the nutmeg and 1 tsp of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, then stir in the yoghurt and egg yolks until mixed in.

Heat the oven to 200C fan.

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente (use the minimum time on the pack). Reserve 3 tbsp of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the ragu with the reserved cooking water. Mix well then pour into a large baking dish (about 30 x 22cm and 8cm deep).

Pour the béchamel over the top and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over the feta and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some extra parsley, the aleppo chilli and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Rachel Roddy is a great inspiration for us in the kitchen. Her recipes are so simple but just right. This spaghetti dish has no pepper or cheese and doesn’t need them, it’s delicious as it is and a treat at any time of year.

Wine Suggestion: We were inspired by the bright Spring day and this dish to open the Spiaggia Marche Bianco. A youthful Verdicchio from the Sartarelli family who live and breathe Verdicchio. Joyful and charming; everything we were hoping for.

Spaghetti aglio, olio al limone – serves 4

  • 2 large unwaxed lemons, zest grated
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 small dried chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil

Mix the lemon zest and chopped parsley together and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add lots of salt, then stir in the spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, very gently warm the olive oil in a large frying pan with the chopped garlic and chilli. You want it to be fragrant but be very careful not to burn it.

Use tongs to lift the spaghetti out of the water and into the frying pan, you want a little of the residual cooking water. Stir the spaghetti to coat in the oil, then add the lemon zest and parsley and a pinch of salt. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like, we usually don’t feel it needs it. Divide between warm pasta bowls.

(Original recipe from Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome by Rachel Roddy, Headline Home, 2017.)

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Somewhere along the line we forgot about spaghetti carbonara, but remembered it again last night. This really is a store-cupboard dish. We’re never without pasta, eggs or Parmesan and more often than not there’s a half packet of pancetta or bacon lardons in the fridge needing used. Thursday night might turn into carbonara night!

Wine Suggestion: An open bottle of Edetaria via Terra red, made from Garnache Tinta grown in Terra Alta south of Barcelona was a joyful accompaniment. Fresh with refined spices and tannins; a gourmand wine. We don’t know whether it was the night or the wine but we had the chats all night after this food and wine.

Spaghetti Carbonara – serves 2 – though you can of course double to serve 4

  • 200g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta cubes or bacon lardons
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 25ml vermouth or white wine
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g grated pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the spaghetti in lots of very salty water according to the timings on the pack.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the pancetta over a medium heat until crispy. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes before the vermouth or white wine and bubble until well reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the egg into a large bowl and beat it with a fork. Add a little salt and plenty of black pepper, then add the cheese and stir to combine.

Drain the pasta in a colander and immediately transfer to the bowl with the egg and cheese, don’t be too fussy when you’re draining as a little of the pasta cooking water will help make a silky sauce. Stir together until the spaghetti is coated in a glossy sauce, then add the pancetta and stir again.

Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.

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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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