Posts Tagged “pasta”

Lockdown Pasta Spinach Puttanesca While this lockdown is still in place I'm working on the theme of tinned fish. Previously, I pointed out how well mackerel works as a preserved, tinned product. Part of the reason for this is that it's a particularly oily fish and it doesn't tend to be dry when cooked. It's also one of the most abundant fish in the ocean – especially around the british isles – so it's sustainable. Another fish which ticks these boxes is the anchovy. Anchovies are one of the most abundant fish in the entire world. For sustainability points, they are hard to beat. They are also, of course, really really tasty. This recipe combines two things I've always been very fond of: 1) pasta, and 2) bold, powerful flavours. Pasta puttanesca combines these in glorious fashion, so it's no surprise that it makes it to my list of all time favourite pasta dishes. Technically, this recipe isn't really a true puttanesca (check out my [previous post]( for a more traditional recipe). This is a bastardized version of sorts, where tomatoes have been switched for spinach. So we have a combination of spinach, anchovies and garlic, which is nothing new; these ingredients would be excellent partners to a roast leg of lamb, for example. The addition of two different types of chilli flakes, including smoky chipotle, makes for a really powerful flavour combination. --- * 180g pasta, preferably rigatoni * 2 handfuls spinach * 1 tsp capers, chopped * 4 fillets anchovies * 2 cloves garlic * 1/2 tsp arbol chilli flakes * 1/2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes * 2 tsp butter * parmesan cheese, to serve * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper 1. Get a large pot of water boiling for the pasta. Season the water, then add the pasta, removing it when about 1 minute from being cooked. _Remember to reserve the cooking water as you will need it for making the sauce_. 2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic along with a pinch of salt. Stir once, and cook for 20 seconds before adding the chilli flakes. Turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Add the spinach, and stir-and-fry until wilted. 3. When the pasta is drained, add it to the pan with the spinach along with a ladleful of the starchy cooking liquid. Add the capers, anchovies and butter at this point, along with a generous pinch of cracked black pepper. Mix everything together vigorously for a couple of minutes: the pasta will finish cooking and some of its starch will be released into the water to thicken it. Add more of the cooking water if it's getting too thick. 4. Serve in bowls immediately, with grated parmesan on top.

Spaghetti Carbonara This recipe has been through a number of alterations since I started making carbonara many years ago. This is the most recent update, and I think, is as pretty close to perfection as a plate of pasta could be. Spaghetti carbonara is still my favourite meal of all time – I don't think I will ever grow tired of it. My more recent changes include a reduction in the amount of egg; I now include one whole egg per person which, when combined with the starchy pasta water and a knob of butter, makes for a beautiful silky sauce. This dish is Italian cooking at it's best; simple, quick and with an emphasis on quality ingredients. It can be deceptively tricky to perfect however; too much heat when adding the eggs can result in scrambling them instead of gently cooking them to get the desired silky smooth sauce. If you can, get a hold of some good quality spaghetti that's been made with a bronze die, as it'll hold the sauce much better. --- * 75g pancetta, diced into lardons * 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped * 180g spaghetti * 2 generous pinches of cracked black pepper * 2 eggs * 2 egg yolks * 30g parmesan, finely grated * sea salt * olive oil 1. Get a large pan of water boiling to cook the pasta in. Add a couple of generous pinches of salt. 2. In a frying pan or sauté pan, heat a glug of olive oil and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced pancetta and fry until lightly caramelised. Turn the heat to low and add the chopped garlic, along with a pinch of cracked black pepper. Cook gently for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic, then remove from the heat and set aside. 3. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for _2 minutes less_ than it says on the packet's instructions. This is because after draining the pasta we're going to heat it again as we make the sauce, so it'll continue to cook. 4. While the pasta is cooking, start to prepare for the sauce; place the eggs and egg yolks into a jug or bowl and add most of the finely grated parmesan (leaving some for garnish at the end), along with a small pinch of sea salt. 5. When the pasta is about 2 minutes away, drain it over another jug or bowl, making sure you reserve about 200ml of water. Whisk the eggs and cream together to make a thick paste, then pour about 4-5 tablespoons of the pasta water in, while still whisking. Now add the pancetta and garlic, pasta and egg mixture back into the pasta pan and place over a medium-low heat. Add about 100ml more of the pasta water and, using a plastic spatula, stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan until it's the texture of custard. Be very careful not to overheat it as the eggs will scramble. If it gets too thick, add a little more water - you should have a nice sauce consistency that just clings to the pasta. 6. Divide into pasta bowls, garnish with the remaining parmesan and eat immediately.

Parsley and Almond Pesto This is pesto with a difference. Classic pesto, made with basil and pine kernels, is a distinctly summer affair, when basil is abundant and your pesto could be happily paired with some ripe vine tomatoes fresh from your garden. Unlike basil, parsley is a fairly resilient herb, and in the UK you could probably grow it outside for the best part of the year, and will easily survive autumn and winter in a greenhouse. So this is a winter pesto, an alternative to the classic. It's a refreshing break from tradition, and pretty delicious too! Due to parsley's more vibrant green colour, this pesto is eye-catchingly bright. There are no tomatoes in season at the moment, but it will go nicely with a green salad instead. You will need a large pestle and mortar, or an electric blender. --- * 50g flat leaf parsley, or curly parsley * 1 small clove of garlic * 25g parmesan, finely grated * 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil * 1 tablespoon flaked almonds, roughly chopped * Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * 200g dried pasta 1. Pick the parsley leaves from the stalks and finely chop. Add to the pestle and mortar (or blender), along with the parmesan and a pinch of sea salt. 2. Add about two thirds of the olive oil to the mix, and bash with the pestle until a rough paste is achieved. 3. At this point, boil a pan of water and season it generously with salt, then cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet. 4. Meanwhile, finely grate the garlic clove, and add to the pesto along with the almonds. Continue to grind for about 1 minute, to crush the almonds a little more. If it’s too thick, add more olive oil. Taste, and season with more salt if necessary. Add a generous pinch of cracked black pepper. 5. When the pasta is done, drain it and reserve some of the cooking liquid. Mix the pesto through the pasta, adding a few spoonfuls of the water to loosen it. Serve and eat immediately, with a little extra grated parmesan on top.

Lamb Bolognese Bolognese sauce in our household was always quite different to what most would consider classic bolognese, which would typically be made with beef and pork. Our sauce would nearly always contain some lamb due to the abundant supply in our freezer. The mince from our own lamb was usually quite fatty and, when mixed in equal parts with lean beef mince, gave a lovely depth of flavour and body to the sauce. It always tasted fantastic; ladled onto a mountain of spaghetti with handfuls of grated parmesan I would devour it with gusto. Lamb bolognese is almost unheard of, which is a shame because it’s so delicious! In my view this is tastier than the classic beef bolognese and I bet that many would agree. Saying that, the recipe I’ve made here is not a plain spag-bol but a modified version, or upgraded, I should say. I made it a little bit creamier than usual, and added extra garlic. A good pile of baby spinach is thrown in and wilted down to tangle with the spaghetti as everything is mixed together. Parmesan cheese is mixed in, along with a splash of the salted starchy pasta water and finally some cherry tomatoes at the very last just to warm through gently. The final sauce is really rich and creamy, with the spinach and tomatoes giving a juiciness that stands up to the strong flavoured lamb. --- * 500g of lamb mince * 3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon * 1 onion * 1 carrot * 1 stick of celery * 3 large cloves of garlic * 250ml of red wine * 50g of tomato purée * 1 litre of lamb stock, or chicken stock * 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes * 50ml of double cream * 100g of baby spinach leaves * 100g of parmesan * 2 sprigs of thyme * 400g of dried spaghetti * olive oil * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper 1. Cut the bacon into 5mm dice and in a large, wide-based pan, fry in olive oil until golden and crisp. Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan, turning the heat down. Dice the celery and carrot into 5mm dice and add to the pan. Pick the leaves from the sprigs of thyme and add to the pan along with the chilli flakes. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lamb mince, red wine, tomato purée and stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 1.5 hours, or until the lamb is tender and the sauce reduced and thick. 2. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add the cream and spinach to the bolognese and stir until all the spinach has wilted. Add the parmesan and mix thoroughly to melt the cheese and emulsify it into the sauce. The sauce should now be thick and creamy. Half the cherry tomatoes and have them ready. When the pasta is done, drain in a colander, reserving the starchy liquid. Add the pasta along with the cherry tomatoes into the sauce and mix well. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or parmesan if needed. Serve immediately

Pasta Puttanesca I've just received a slow cooker as a birthday present from my good friend Lewis, its fantastic because it allows me to braise meat and stews for a long time without having to be in the house. When I'm working all day I can have my dinner slowly cooking for when I get back. I make tomato sauce with the slow cooker; tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, and tomato purée simmered gently for several hours until it is dark and reduced. I then purée and pass it through a fine sieve to make it extra smooth. What you get is an amazingly rich dark red sauce. This can be used for any number of things, but my current favourite is to make salty pungent puttanesca with it. This sauce is accompanied by spaghetti; literally “whore’s style spaghetti”, it’s packed with in-your-face flavours. Traditionally made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives, anchovies and capers, it’s salty and moreish. It’s a good dish to have in your repertoire; because it’s made almost entirely with store cupboard ingredients it can be rustled up with just a moment’s notice, although in my recipe the tomato sauce is simmered for eight hours to make it extra rich. This isn’t essential but will make your sauce taste amazing. I recommend making a big batch of sauce and freezing it. As there are so many big and bold flavours going on here, I have added a good handful of parsley and basil to bring some freshness to the dish and vital splash of green, making it particularly eye-catching. --- * 2 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes * 3 tablespoons of tomato purée * 1 onion * 5 large cloves of garlic * 1 glass of red wine * extra virgin olive oil * 1 tablespoon of sugar * 1 large handful of pitted black olives * 6 anchovy fillets * 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley * 1 handful of basil leaves * 400g of tagliatelle 1. To make the tomato sauce; finely slice the onion and sweat in a couple of glugs of olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until the onions are completely softened. Now finely chop the garlic cloves and add to the pot along with the tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar and red wine. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for about 8 hours until the sauce is rich and dark. purée the sauce in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. it should be fairly thick so that it coats the pasta nicely. If it's too thin, simmer it gently to reduce further. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. 2. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions while you finish the sauce: finely chop the anchovy fillets and gently fry in a little olive oil until they start to disintegrate, then add the tomato sauce and stir. Slice the olives and add to the sauce. Finely chop the parsley and roughly chop the basil and add to the sauce at the very end. When the pasta is ready, stir the sauce in; add just enough to coat the pasta nicely, it should be really thick. Serve with some red wine and crusty bread. Fantastic!

Spaghetti Bolognese This has long been a staple dish in my repertoire and I think that I, like many of us, have a weakness for a good meaty pasta sauce. However, bolognese sauce can often turn out mediocre if thrown together in a hurry and without much thought. My philosophy for making a good bolognese rests on two principles. One: it should be really meaty, and two: it should simmer gently for a long time to tenderise the meat. My usual bolognese contains beef mince, pork mince, bacon, and pork sausage meat. This gives a nice combination of meaty flavours. It’s nice to vary things though, and I sometimes combine the beef mince with lamb or venison mince. Another thing about my bolognese, which is slightly controversial, is that I omit tomatoes and only include tomato purée. The main liquid component of the sauce instead comes from beef or pork stock, which promotes a richer meat flavour. This is an easy reliable meal, and a great one to serve if you have guests since just about everyone likes spaghetti bolognese! I usually make a big quantity, then freeze most of it before adding the cream. --- * 150g of streaky bacon * 2 onions * 3 large cloves of garlic * 1 stick of celery * 2 carrots * 500g of beef mince * 500g of pork mince * 250g of good quality sausage meat * 5 tablespoons of tomato purée * 200ml of white wine * 300ml of beef stock * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * 1 sprig of thyme * 1 bay leaf * 3 tablespoons of double cream * vegetable oil, for frying * parmesan cheese, to serve * 600g of spaghetti 1. Chop the bacon into small lardons and fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, peel and finely dice onions, garlic and celery. Add to pan with the bacon just as it is starting to colour. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Peel and chop the carrots into small dice and add to the pan. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Now add the rest of the meat and turn the heat up; stir constantly until all the meat is browned and well mixed. Add the tomato purée, wine and stock, along with a good pinch of cracked black pepper, the thyme and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then leave barely simmering, uncovered, for about 2 hours, or until the mince is very tender and the sauce is intense and rich. If need be, add more stock if the sauce is looking too dry. Taste, and season. Just before serving, stir in the double cream. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a nice big fresh salad.