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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with pasta

02May 12

Sprout, Chestnut and Thyme Tagliatelle

Sprout_Chestnut_and_Thyme_TagliatelleThis one’s a little more unusual, mainly due to the sprouts. It’s a vegetarian pasta dish, but it packs a very full-flavour punch! We had a large crop of Brussel sprouts on our allotment last autumn, and decided to try them in place of meat in one of our favourite dishes. We think they work a treat: the sprouts have a really strong flavour (and aroma), as do the chestnuts. We had to lessen the amount of thyme from the meat version of this dish, as otherwise there’s simply too much flavour! Give it a try and tell us what you think.

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 2 small shallots, chopped roughly
  • 150g Brussel sprouts: peel and cut an ‘x’ in the top
  • 50-75g vacuum-packed ready-to-cook chestnuts, chopped into halves
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme
  • small glass dry white wine
  • 150ml double cream
  • 200g tagliatelle
  • salt and pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese

Method

1 – Before you get the whole meal started, part-cook the Brussel sprouts: about 10 mins in very lightly salted boiling water should be enough, but it depends on the size of the sprouts. Then chop them up roughly, so that the sprout pieces are just a bit larger than the chopped chestnuts.

2 – Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan, add the shallots and fry for 2 mins. Add the sprouts, chestnuts and thyme, cooking for 1 or 2 minutes (a little colour/caramelisation looks nice and adds flavour). Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes to reduce. Add the cream and simmer gently for a couple of minutes to reduce further. Now is a good time for seasoning, but be careful, these ingredients already have a lot of powerful flavour!

3 – Whilst the main ingredients are cooking, start the pasta: bring sufficient lightly salted water to the boil, and cook your tagliatelle till al dente. Drain the pasta, and combine with the sauce. Check the seasoning and serve, adding grated parmesan. This dish is great with dry peppery white wine, like a Gruner Veltliner, or Gewurtztraminer.

Notes: if you don’t like sprouts, and I know quite a lot of people don’t, then instead use sausages: using Italian salciccia you can either cut them lengthways, and then roughly chop them up, or just cut slice them transversely, but a bit thinner.

Serves 2

Time: 30 mins – about 10 mins prep & 20 mins cooking

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27Apr 12

Paperdelle with Wild Boar

Papperdelle con Cinghiale

You may have noted that you can buy boar either wild or farmed, but nowadays, truly wild boar is less easily had. Boar is such a different beast from the more commonly farmed breeds of domesticated pig; it’s a deliciously strong, earthy flavour, and something everyone should try. (For more gamey recipes, try this potpie of roe deer with root vegetables.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small bunch flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Small sprig of rosemary
  • 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced very finely
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (a red onion if possible)
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large glass of robust red wine
  • 500g wild boar meat, finely chopped or minced
  • 1kg pappardelle
  • Pecorino, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – In the olive oil, gently fry the herbs for several minutes, along with the bay leaf, in a heavy-bottomed frying pan or casserole. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 3-5 minutes before adding the garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes and then add the meat.

2 – Pour in the wine. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until the liquid is almost completely reduced. Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for a further fifteen minutes.

3 – In a large pan of lightly salted boiling water, cook the pasta till al dente, as per the packet instructions. If you don’t have papardelle, then fettucine, tagliatelle, or even linguine or spaghetti will suffice.

4 – Drain the pasta and serve into large, deep preheated plates, before serving the wild boar sauce. Have a bowl of pecorino on hand so you can sprinkle the wild boar paperdelle liberally with cheese.

Wild boar meat can be very strongly flavoured, so you need a muscular red wine to stand up to it! Rhone valley reds, like the classic Chateauneuf-du-Pape, seem like an obvious option. A good crusty loaf of brown bread and some extra virgin olive oil will go well with this scrumptious meal.

Serves: 2
Total Time: – 1 hour (preparation, 15 minutes; cooking time 45 minutes)

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14Apr 12

Bacon and Avocado Strozzapreti

Bacon and Avocado StrozzaprettiBacon and avocado make a wonderful combination: intensely rich, dark and naturally salty, the flavour of the bacon combines perfectly with the soft, smooth and light, but equally rich avocado, whilst the rough crunch of the former contrasts nicely with the buttery smoothness of the latter.

For a more rustic Italian feel, use lardons, or thick slices of bacon chopped into roughly equal sized and fairly small cubes. If you’re using thinner bacon slices, chop the pieces slightly larger, about 2.5 cm square.

Strozzapreti is traditionally hand-made, so why not try it with homemade pasta dough? Being very rustic irregular shapes and sizes are part of its peasant charm.

The etymology of this pasta is fascinating: ‘strozzapreti’ literally translates as ‘strangle-priest’ or, rendered less clumsily, ‘priest-choker’! There are numerous explanations as to how the pasta got this rather alarming anti-clerical sounding name.

The least dramatic is that the chef is ‘choking’ the pasta dough by the actions required to make it. Much juicier and more thrilling are these more complex or comedic explanations: that this was a form of pasta cooked by peasants in part payment of church rents, or best of all, that the clergy are so gluttonous that they stuff down this delicious pasta so quickly they choke themselves!

On that last count, who can blame them? (I’m sure they would have also loved this pasta salad with broccoli and bacon. Different veggies, but still a great flavour!)

Ingredients:

  • 30g butter
  •  200g strozzapretti pasta (or similar, e.g. fusilli)
  • 100g bacon (uncooked)
  •  1/2  medium-sized onion, finely chopped.
  •  1 large ripe avocado, diced.
  •  Several cloves of cloves of garlic (according to taste), peeled, crushed against the blade of a knife, and coarsely chopped.
  •  150ml cream*
  •  100g grated Parmesan cheese.
  •  Salt and pepper.
  •  Optional tablespoon or two of olive oil for the pasta

* You can use either single or double cream, depending how rich and creamy you want it to be; remember though that avocados have both these qualities to begin with!

Method:

1 – Start your water for the pasta. In a frying pan, melt one-third of the butter and fry the bacon till it’s taken on a rich dark tone, as the sugars begin to caramelize, releasing those fabulous aromas and flavours (it was my wife frying bacon in the mornings that ended my experiment with vegetarianism!). Ideally you want the bacon to have some crunch in this dish.

2 – By the time the bacon’s starting to crisp a little, the water should be boiling, so drop your pasta into the pan, cover and reduce to a low medium heat to cook the pasta. Add half of the remaining butter and fry the onion until golden. Now add what’s left of the butter and drop in the garlic. Lower the heat a little and cook gently for a couple of minutes.

3 – Making sure the heat is now very low, pour in the cream and the stir the mixture to combine with any remaining butter. When the mix is a silky smooth delight, add the chopped avocado and grated Parmesan, gently stirring and allowing all the ingredients and flavours to combine for a couple more minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

4 – Drain the pasta and serve into generous deep plates or bowls, before spooning over your richly delicious bacon and avocado mix. Grate a little more Parmesan over it all, and perhaps a little freshly ground pepper, and dive in!

Serves: 2

Total time: 35-40 minutes (15 minutes preparation; 25 minutes cooking)

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05Apr 12

Penne alla arrabbiata

Penne alla arribbiataFirst of all, I would like to explain this dish’s name. Literally, ‘arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’, and ‘penne’ is a type of pasta. Directly translated, it means ‘angry pasta’! This ‘anger’ comes from the use of chilli peppers in the recipe that makes the dish so hot, furiously filling your tastebuds with spicy goodness. So, when preparing this dish, use as much chilli as you like, depending on how “angry” you want your pasta to be. (For another recipe with hot red chilli peppers, try this bonfire bean chilli.)

Although many may flinch at the thought of how spicy chilli peppers can be, they are really healthy. One benefit is the large amount of Vitamin C it has. Did you know that a chilli pepper has more vitamin C than an orange? And only 50g can provide over half of your recommended daily vitamin C intake. Not too shabby!

This recipe is originally from Rome, and you might like to know that it has many different versions. Some of them actually have nothing to do with the traditional recipe, so, if you can, stick to the following ingredients and you will enjoy the taste of the original Roman arrabbiata.

Ingredients:

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 dried red chilli peppers (roughly chopped)
  • 300g chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 200g penne pasta

 

Method:
1. Chop the garlic and peppers.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (medium heat) and add the chopped garlic and chilli into the pan.
3. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden in colour.
4. When the garlic has turned golden, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds.
5. Then season with salt, and stir again for a few seconds.
6. Cook on medium/low heat for about 20-25 minutes to reduce the sauce.
7. A few minutes before the arrabbiata sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan containing the sauce.
8. Stir for a few seconds to coat the pasta with the sauce. Do this when the pan is still on the heat.
9. Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
10. Give a quick stir and serve immediately.

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01Apr 12

Chilli garlic pasta

Chilli Garlic PastaThe name of this chilli garlic pasta more or less tells the whole story. The best part is that you can pick your favourite pasta! If you pick spaghetti, then you’re basically making the Roman classic ‘spaghetti aglio e olio’, which means “spaghetti with garlic and oil”.

The ingredients are so simple, but the flavour is immense. There are several ways you can prepare this dish, but most recipes I’ve read are quite moderate with the garlic. Since Teresa and I like it plenty, and can handle plenty of it, as you’ll have noticed if you’ve been following this blog, we add a bit more than most versions recommend. Make sure to brush your teeth afterwards, though, to fight the intense aroma of the garlic.

A simple hearty meal that often forms the basis of convivial gatherings, it’s a great meal to throw together in the early-morning hours, after a night on the town. If you want to add fish for extra protein, you can try this salmon with chilli lemon linguine recipe that is quite similar.

Ingredients:

  • 400g of your favourite pasta
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 2-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 dried chillis, finely chopped (de-seeded if you want, although we don’t bother)
  • Several sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – Cook your pasta in a pan of salted boiling water, as per the instructions of your chosen favourite.

2 – In a pan, heat the oil gently. Then add the garlic and a little salt, and allow the garlic to soften and caramelise slightly, turning a pale gold. Remember; don’t overcook the garlic, as it turns bitter if burnt. Add the chopped chilli and stir to combine. If the pasta’s not ready yet, set aside but keep warm by popping the lid on.

3 – Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the other ingredients, stirring the oil, garlic and chilli so they thoroughly coat the pasta. Add the chopped parsley, a generous twist or three from your pepper mill, and a touch of salt if needed. Mix it all up and serve immediately.

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14Feb 12

Lamb and Linguine Bolognese

Lamb and Linguine BologneseWhilst respecting culinary tradition, we young Italians also enjoy coming up with our own variations of classic themes. I’m a linguine-lover: there’s that little extra bite with linguine, and if you’re crazy about pasta, these small things matter! I also make a salmon linguine dish, but I made this dish with lamb mince and a chili punch.

 

Ingredients:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 15-20g butter
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
• 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)
• 1 finely chopped fiery red chili (seeds removed)
• 1 small (or 1/2 large) onion, chopped finely
• 1 stick of celery, sliced very finely
• 200-250g minced lamb
• 1 large glass robust red wine
• 1 200g tin of chopped tomatoes or 250/300g fresh tomatoes, chopped
Note: for a fuller flavour, use 250/300g fresh tomatoes – blanched in boiled water, peeled, and then pressed through a sieve to remove seeds
• 300ml lamb stock
• 200g linguine
• salt and pepper
• freshly grated Parmesan – as much or as little as you like!

Method

1 – Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-based pan and add the onion, celery and bay leaf. Stir continuously over low heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions become softened and slightly transparent. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook gently until all the flesh has browned.

2 – Add the wine (and balsamic vinegar), bring to a boil, and simmer between 10-20 minutes, until the wine has reduced significantly. Add the tomatoes and chilli (and nutmeg). This is the long part: simmer very, very gently between 1-4 hours. Be sure to check regularly, adding the stock as necessary, 50ml or 100ml at a time, to prevent the sauce drying out and sticking to the pan.

3 – As the meat reaches the end of its cooking time, prepare the pasta. Bring the water to the boil, add a pinch of salt, and cook until al dente. Drain the linguine, reserving a small cup of the cooking liquid. Mix the pasta and meat sauce together, adding a little of the pasta liquid to help the sauce coat the linguine nicely. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and the remains of that robust red wine.

Serves 2

Time Up to 4 hours – 15 mins prep, 1-4 hrs cooking (the longer you can leave the sauce cooking, the richer and better combined the flavours will be.)

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.