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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Conchiglie al Cavolo Nero

We’ve made this a couple times recently as  Cavolo Nero is around and we keep on being drawn to it. Especially as we’re starting to tire of root veg and looking forward to all the treats that will come with Spring.

The dish is  creamy and cheesy, with load of garlic and iron rich Cavolo Nero. Fairly rich for a main course in our opinion but absolutely perfect served in small starter portions.

If it suits you can blanch and dry the Cavolo nero and make the garlic puree in advance which leaves very little to do to get the dish on the table.

Wine suggestion: An old favourite came to the rescue here in the form of the Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore “Tralivio” which has a great weight but also a freshness and vibrant texture. The flavour of the food isn’t shy, so make sure whatever you choose has enough body to cope.

Conchiglie al Cavolo Nero – serves 6 as a starter

  • 900g Cavolo Nero
  • 300ml double cream
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 dried chillies, crumbled or 2 tsp chilli flakes (adjust to your heat preference)
  • 150g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 250g conchiglie or other shell-shaped pasta

Remove the central stalk from the Cavelo Nero leaves and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces. Blanch the leaves in boiling salted water for 3 minutes by which time they should be tender and bright green. Drain and dry in a clean tea towel.

Put the double cream and 5 of the whole garlic cloves into a pan and simmer until the garlic is soft, about 15 minutes. Purée in a blender.

In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and fry the remaining 2 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices, and the chilli. When the garlic has coloured, add the blanched Cavolo Nero, stir & season. Pour in the cream and garlic purée, bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes until the Cavolo Nero is coated and the sauce has thickened. Add the Parmesan.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, then drain well before mixing well with the sauce.

(Original recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 1995.)

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Roast pumpkin and spinach lasagne

Making lasagne is a bit of a labour of love but if you take it in stages it can be assembled in advance and baked when you need it. Always worth the effort in our opinion. This veggie version is particularly good.

Wine Suggestion: we found the Rustenberg Chardonnay from Stellenbosch really matched this dish with it’s masterful balance of oak, fruit and freshness. This is one of South Africa’s classics and one of the best value Chardonnay’s we know. It is picked, crushed and gently settled before fermenting by itself (wild yeasts) and after gentle care in oak barrels on fine lees it is bottled. Only at this stage do they add a touch of sulphur to keep it stable in the bottle. A natural wine without the faults of other proponents of this term.

Roast Squash & Spinach Lasagne – serves 6

  • 750g butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g spinach, washed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • whole nutmeg
  • 6 fresh lasagne sheets
  • 100g Parmesan, grated

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp light muscovado sugar

FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:

  • 500ml full-fat milk
  • 6 peppercorns
  • ½ onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g butter

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

Halve the squash, peel and deseed, then cut into slices about 1cm thick. Toss with the oil in a roasting tin, season well, then roast until tender and beginning to char at the edges – about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Soften the onion in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the celery and garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes & sugar, then leave to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until you have a thick puree. Season.

Wash the spinach and put into a saucepan with the water that clings to the leaves. Place over a medium heat and toss for about 4 minutes or until completely wilted. Leave to cool, then squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach with your hands. Chop and put into a pan with the butter, then gently heat and toss together so the spinach is coated in butter, season with salt, pepper and a good grating of nutmeg.

To make the bechamel, bring the milk to the boil in a pan with the peppercorns, onion and bay leaf. Set aside for 5 minutes to infuse, then strain into a clean pan. Add the flour & butter and whisk over a gentle heat until you have a thick smooth sauce.

Heat your oven again to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

To assemble the lasagne start by buttering a baking dish – about 1.4 litres capacity. Put a layer of roasted squash in the bottom followed by a layer of tomato sauce. Place lasagne sheets on top of this, making sure they don’t overlap (you can cut them with scissors to fit your dish). Add a layer of bechamel, followed by a handful of spinach and half the grated cheese. Top with more lasagne, pumpkin, tomato sauce, more lasagne and a final layer of bechamel. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbling and golden.

(Original recipe by Diana Henry in BBC Good Food Magazine, December, 2016.)

 

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Penne Stilton

We often have lumps of leftover Stilton in the fridge after the weekend and particularly after Christmas. If you find yourself in a similar situation try this simple pasta dish for a mid-week dinner. If that doesn’t solve the problem here’s a few other ideas:

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Creamy baked Brussels sprouts with stilton

Pasta with Blue Cheese Cream

Roussillon Baked Potatoes

Pork and Pears

Wine Suggestion: delicious with the Bott-Geyl Points Cardinal Metiss, a dry but rich and full white made from all the Pinot varieties you can think of, including the red and pink ones. When young this wine is fresh and enticing but with an extra year in the bottle it fills out and the aromas seem to ramp up a bit more with hints of honey, pears and apples and a lovely dry spice on the palate. More than a match for the powerful flavour of Stilton.

Stilton & Penne Pasta – serves 4

  • 400g penne pasta
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 100g Stilton, cubed
  • handful toasted walnuts, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then gently fry the onion until golden. Add the garlic and sage, fry for a further 2 mins, then remove the pan from the heat.

Drain the pasta and reserve some cooking water. Stir through the onions, Stilton and 2 tbsp cooking water, then sprinkle with the toasted walnuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Rigatoni Peperonata

A simple midweek pasta supper for using up those multi-pack peppers. It reminds us of summer and Italy.

Wine suggestion: a great match with Cabernet Franc. The bell pepper, inky and pencil shaving character really compliments the flavours in this simple dish. A favourite of our is the Ch du Hureau from Saumur. Their “Tuffe” a youthful Cab Franc is a gem that regularly makes its way onto our wine rack. If you want to stick with Italian a 100% Sangiovese would make an excellent choice too.

Pasta Peronata – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers,  sliced
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
  • 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped and stalks reserved
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 handfuls grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 heaped tablespoons mascarpone cheese or crème fraîche (optional – we don’t usually add this unless we have some already)
  • 500g rigatoni or penne pasta

Put the peppers into a large frying pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, and cook gently for about 15 minutes until softened. Add the onion and cook for a further 20 minutes. Then add the garlic and parsley stalks and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Season to taste. Add the vinegar, then add a handful of the grated Parmesan and the mascarpone or crème fraîche if you are using it and turn the heat down to minimum while you cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack. Reserve a little of the cooking water before draining. Toss the peppers, pasta & chopped parsley in a large warm bowl. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water and a splash of good olive oil to coat the pasta. Serve with the rest of the Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Jamie Oliver).

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Rich Salmon Macaroni

This is super rich and luxurious and needs no other accompaniment than lots of dressed salad leaves (and a glass of wine of course).

Wine Suggestion: There are two options here. One is to balance the richness of the dish with an equally weighty wine and for this we’d drink a good white Burgundy, Meursault preferably. Conversely you can cut through the richness with something a bit more fresh and zingy such as a good Sancerre, the key here is to make sure the wine has texture and concentration so it’s not overwhelmed. Again, choose a very good producer if you can. 

Salmon with macaroni – serves 4

  • 600ml double cream
  • 400g piece of salmon fillet
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150g macaroni
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 50g sourdough bread
  • large handful of fennel fronds/dill

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the salmon, bay leaf and some freshly ground black pepper. Bring almost to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily, then remove from the heat.

Boil the pasta in lots of salty water for about 9 minutes, then drain and tip into a baking dish. Remove the salmon from the cream and flake into large chunks, discarding any skin and bones. Tuck the salmon in amongst the pasta. Add the mustard to the cream with a little salt, then pour over the salmon & pasta.

Put the sourdough bread and fennel/dill into a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Scatter the herby crumbs over the pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crumbs are golden.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2015.)

Mac n Salmon

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Walnut Pesto

We first tasted walnut pesto in Florence a few years ago but it has taken us a while to get around to making it ourselves. This works equally well for a casual dinner or in smaller portions as a starter and it tastes really special. You can make this with fresh walnuts which you buy whole and shell yourself but it also works well with shelled walnuts, provided you make sure they are fresh (we buy our walnuts from Lidl which come in a sealed foil bag). You can keep the pesto in the fridge for up to a week and it freezes well too.

Wine Suggestion: we like to drink dry white wines that have texture and a certain crunchiness with walnuts, which aren’t always easy to match. Italian whites come to mind first and the nutty ones work very well, like Verdicchio, but it has been dry (sec) Jurançon that has proved a stellar match, like Cauhapé’s Chants des Vignes. A wine with a vibrancy of fruit, a fresh acidity like a crunchy green and red apple mix, some white flowers in the aromas and a texture on the palate that carries through with a long length and food friendly finish.

Pasta with creamy walnut pesto – serves 4 (with some pesto left over)

  • 400g orecchiette pasta
  • 175g walnut halves/pieces
  • handful fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml double cream

Cook the pasta for the recommended time on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the basil, cheese, butter and oil and pulse for a few more times, then season.

Pour the cream into a pan and warm through. Add tw0-thirds of the pesto, then gently heat to loosen it.

Take 2 tbsp of water out of the pasta pan before draining, then mix the pasta and the water into the sauce. Serve immediately with some extra Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferringo in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2009.)

 

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Spaghetti al cartoccio

This starter portion of pasta is perfect for entertaining as it can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance and finished off in the oven when required. We had this as a second course after broad bean bruschetta and followed by barbecued balsamic beef and then home-made ice cream and summer berry compote for dessert.

Wine Suggestion: lovely with a slightly chilled red, and naturally, given the inspiration from the food we’d suggest Italian. A light, lively, youthful and fruity Sangiovese hits the spot in the form of a Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo given 30-40 minutes in the fridge before serving; chilled but not ice cold. The fresh acidity works perfectly with the fresh tomatoes and olives and the combination speaks to us of summer.

Pasta al Cartoccio – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 450g ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 280g dried spaghetti
  • 100g large black olives
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, about 30x20cm.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove the garlic, then add the tomatoes and chilli and season well. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring now and then.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/fan oven 180C.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water for half the time given on the pack, then drain well.

Add the olives and half the parsley to the tomato sauce and stir in the pasta. Taste and season to taste.

Divide the spaghetti between the pieces of paper, piling it into the middle of each. Scrunch the edges of each parcel  to seal tightly. Put the parcels in a roasting tin and bake for 7 minutes after which time the spaghetti should be al dente.

Remove the tin from the oven and transfer each parcel to a warm plate. Let everyone open their own parcels and sprinkle the spaghetti with the remaining parsley and some parmesan.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferrigno in BBC Good Food, August 2001.)

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