Tag Archives: pasta

Pappardelle with Courgette, Squash & Ricotta topped with Basil Oil

Last night’s dinner was a summer pasta using leftovers – leftovers which happened to be packed with loads of good stuff – making this a super nutritious meal aswell as being very tasty too!

Butternut Squash contains tonnes of vitamin A which is great to keep the immune system on good form aswell as protecting cells with its antioxidant properties. The courgette is low in calories and a good source of potassium which is great for keeping blood pressure nice and regular. Basil is also great and is a wonderful source of Vitamin K which keeps our blood system working properly and keeps our bones healthy. Finally the ricotta is a great protein source also containing calcium and omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids helping prevent cancer and aiding body health.

Serves 2

2 servings Pappardelle

Olive Oil

1/4 Butternut Squash – diced

1 Courgette – sliced

3 Cloves Garlic – minced

Salt & Pepper

4 tbsp Ricotta

12 Basil leaves – roughly chopped

Zest of One Lemon

Pop the pasta into some boiling water and cook as per instructions- once ready, drain and leave to one side, reserving the pasta water.

Now make the basil oil. Mix together the torn or chopped basil leaves with two minced garlic clove, lemon zest, salt, pepper and olive oil – leave to one side to infuse.

For the main dish lightly fry the squash with the remaining garlic until softened. Add some black pepper for taste. Once the squash is cooked, add the fresh courgette for 2 minutes – its needs to soften slightly but not cook through. Finally add the pappardelle and mix together. If the mixture looks dry add some reserved pasta water to loosen. Take off the heat and stir in the ricotta – it doesn’t need to fully mix through, i find the little clumps of ricotta lovely and fresh with the pasta.

Drizzle over the basil oil at the table and serve alongside a fresh salad – i made lemon cavolo nero and tomatoes with fried garlic oil. Simply massage lemon juice and salt into chopped cavolo nero, add the tomatoes. Slice 3 cloves of garlic and fry in olive oil until crisp – drizzle this over the salad and mix together.

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Summer Puttanesca

Wow! I haven’t blogged for ages! I have been cooking loads but doing so for myself without the pressure to blog at the same time – i used to use my commutes to write blog posts but am using my tube time to watch TED talks, listen to podcasts and read aswell as watching the occasional episode of This Is Us!

Anyway – Summer is here and i fancied a light, fresh pasta dish. Inspired by the NYT Cooking app I cooked Summer Puttanesca – chilli kick, fresh lemon and rich anchovies were lovely in the South London heat tonight!

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – sliced
  • 1 tin anchovies – chopped
  • 1/2 jar of capers
  • 1 bag rocket
  • 1 Tin tuna
  • 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
  • 2 servings wholewheat spaghetti

Put the spaghetti on to boil as per instructions. In a separate frying pan heat some olive oil and gently fry the garlic and chilli until sizzling and softened. Add the anchovies and capers and allow the anchovies to melt. At this stage, keep mixing all together and add a ladle of the pasta water and add the rocket . Mix together, adding extra water if needed to loosen. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the mixture and stir in the tuna. Finally stir the chopped parsley through ensuring everything is mixed together and the pasta is smothered in the sauce.

I served my dinner with some toasted lemon zest breadcrumbs on top and a side salad of asparagus, parmesan and pinenuts.

Enjoy!

  • What to do when you have too much Spaghetti

    Since Elix moved to Singapore I have had to be more mindful of how much food I am buying/eating to ensure I am not being wasteful. After an unfortunate incident when some bicarbonate of soda fell out of my packed cupboard all over the beginnings of a noodle salad, I decided to start using up the food I already have in my fridge, cupboard and freezer to waste less, save more and create some much needed space.

    The cupboard contained nearly every type of pasta you can imagine aswell as four varieties of dried italian herbs and spices that I had picked up during trips to Florence, Sicily and Bologna. I also found two bags of frozen broad beans in the freezer and 3 portions of chorizo from when we didn’t get round to cooking paella over Christmas.

    Anyway – these recipes were made by using only food I already had in, were super easy and very tasty – even if I do say so myself.

    Both recipes served just me and were made with wholewheat Spaghetti- boiled for 8minutes until al dente.

    Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower, Chorizo & Broad Beans

    Roast 1/4 head of cauliflower in the oven for 30minutes until caramelised. Boil a large handful of broad beans for 5minutes – de-pod and leave to one side. In a shallow frying pan, fry the diced chorizo (i used 1/4 of a whole one) as it begins to crisp up add a clove of diced garlic. Mix for a couple of minutes and add the cauliflower and broad beans. Drain the pasta – add in a teaspoon of dried chilli and oregano and mix together with olive oil. Finally on a very gentle heat, add the chorizo, cauliflower and beans to the pasta. Mix and heat through and serve.

    Spaghetti with Garlic & Basil Courgettes & Tenderstem Broccoli

    This one is super quick and simple. Boil the tenderstem for 4minutes. Meanwhile slice the courgettes and place in a dry pan letting them char a little. Turn the heat off, add the broccoli and a handful of ripped basil and mix together with a drizzle of olive oil. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and put back in the saucepan on a low heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and some dried oregano, parsley and a little dried chilli. Mix together and add the greens. Serve with a sprinkling of grated parmigiana and enjoy!

    Trullo Pastas

    Peter bought me the Trullo cookbook as a pre-Christmas gift and we decided to celebrate the New Year with an Italian themed dinner.

    Trullo is a very popular Italian restaurant in Highbury – North London – its always busy, gets great reviews and serves delicious unfussy Italian food.

    Our starter was Burrata with anchovy paste and broad beans – this is the sort of dish i always order when im out for dinner and it was surprisingly easy to make – blitzing anchovies, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in the nutri-bullet, and simply topping with the burrata and scattering broad beans on top.

    Anyway – on to the main courses which i will write up here – both very simple and tasty and again, the sorts of dishes I would always order in an Italian restaurant.

    Firstly for the Orecchiette with Broccoli, Anchovy and Chilli

    Serves 2
    500g Tenderstem or Purple Sprouting Broccoli
    2 Garlic Cloves – finely diced
    Sprinkle of dried Chilli flakes
    1/2 tin Anchovies
    200g Orecchiette Pasta (Farfalle is recommended if you cant source the “little ears”)
    Olive Oil
    Salt & Pepper
    Parmesan – for seasoning at the end

    Boil the broccoli for 7 minutes and leave to one side.
    Boil the pasta according to instructions – ours took around 10minutes which is exactly how long the sauce took to cook!
    In a shallow frying pan gently fry the garlic and chilli in some olive oil until the garlic starts to colour. Add the anchovies to melt for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and a dash of water and pop a lid on the pan for 8-10 minutes. Remove the lid, season and add more olive oil for a little extra richness. Mix together with the pasta and serve with parmesan shavings on top.

    The second dish was Linguine with Crab – this used both white and brown crab meat and was a completely new but easy and super tasty way of cooking a crab and pasta dish.

    Serves 2
    1 tin White crab meat
    80g Brown crab meat
    200g Linguine
    1/2 Red Chilli – diced
    20g Butter
    Olive Oil
    Lemon Juice
    Salt & Pepper
    1tbsp Parsley – chopped

    Cook the linguine in boiling water for 10 minutes – again this is roughly how long the crab takes to prepare.
    In a bowl, mix together the brown and white crab, chilli, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave to one side.
    In a large shallow frying pan, gently fry the butter and add the crab mixture – mix well, adding a splash of pasta water to seperate if needed. Once the pasta is cooked and drained – add this to the crab and mix thoroughly – adding more pasta water if needed. The sauce will emulsify as it coats the linguine.
    Serve with a little extra black pepper to taste.

    A quick and easy Dinner Treat

    Last week after a tough day I wanted to treat myself to something new and a little different for dinner. Luckily for me Sainsburys in Toots had some beautiful fresh scallops on the Fish Counter which I decided to combine with the comfort of linguine and chorizo.

    This dish contains 2 of your 5 veg a day from the spinach and tomatoes – which also provide an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Scallops are low in fat and also a great source of Vitamin B, potassium and magnesium – all of which are great for heart health. 

    You’ll see I added dried spice – I used a dried arrabiata mix I picked up from Italy which contains dried chilli, parsley, oregano and garlic but dried chilli is also just fine.

    Serves 2
    12 Fresh Scallops – keep the roe to one side
    220g Cherry Tomatoes
    100g Chorizo – cubed
    200g Spinach – shredded
    2 handfuls Linguine
    1tsp dried chilli/dried arrabiata mix

    Start by boiling the linguine – this is a quick dish so by the time the pasta has cooked everything else will be ready!
    In a frying pan, dry fry the cherry tomatoes – keep an eye on them. When they start to char and soften, turn down the heat and add some olive oil. At this stage, add the dried chilli or dried herbs (depending on how much spice you fancy) and also add the chorizo. I also added in the scallop roe – many people dont like to eat this but it adds a mild scallop flavour to the sauce which saves having to add extra seasoning for those trying to limit their salt intake. As everything sizzles, gently mash the tomatoes to make a chunky sauce. Add the spinach and let it wilt down into the sauce.
    Allow the sauce to simmer on a low heat and get on to the scallops.
    I fried my scallops in a little olive oil in a frying pan – I cooked for 2 minutes on one side until they had a lovely golden sheen and then flipped to cook on the other side for another minute.
    To serve, I mixed the sauce with the linguine and placed the scallops on top. A perfect Summery comfort dish.

    Spring Time Carbonara

    This recipe is a light, spring twist on a normal carbonara. Slightly healthier with no creme freche or cream and more veggies – also no added salt. 

    Broad Beans are added to this recipe – i LOVE broad beans – despite the effort of cooking them and de-podding them as they cook they are so worth the effort. Not only are they are great source of vegetable protein and fibre so they give us energy and keep out digestive system ticking along, they are also packed with vitamin B – this is good for pregnancy, helps cell strength and finally are a great source of calcium, manganese and iron.

    The dish was delicious, rich sundried tomatoes and salty, crispy pancetta were balanced with the creaminess of the broad beans and parmesan and the tang from the lemon juice and zest. Fresh herbs were added for extra freshness especially mint, which goes so well with pancetta, parmesan and the beans. 

    Serves 2
    1 courgette – spiralized for courgetti
    1 serving wholewheat spaghetti
    100g pancetta cubes
    1 clove garlic – finely diced
    Olive Oil
    Juice and Zest of 1/2 Lemon
    8 sundried tomatoes – sliced
    100g Peas
    200g Broad Beans
    1 egg – beaten
    Handful of Parmesan – grated
    Handful of fresh mint and fresh parsley – chopped

    Pop the spaghetti in a pan to cook in boiling water for 8 minutes until al dente.
    Cook the pease and broad beans in a pan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes and shell the beans discarding the skins.
    Get yourself a frying pan and in a little olive oil, fry the pancetta until slightly crispy, as the pancetta starts to caramelise, add the garlic. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set to one side.
    In a large mixing bowl, mix the courgetti, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest and herbs.
    Next pop the cooked pasta into the large frying pan (utilise that pancetta and garlic oil for extra flavour) on a very low heat and add the egg. Keep mixing through and add the pancetta and garlic. As the egg scrambles and mixes through the pasta add the courgetti and tomatoes and mix everything together. The egg should lace through the dish
    providing a creamy element and tying all the other ingredients together. Finally scatter over the parmesan and stir through. Try not to leave the pan on the heat after the egg is cooked through as the dish could overcook and there is a risk it could all turn to mush when you want to retain that light, fresh, zing.

    Bologna – La Grossa

    After a lovely long weekend in Bologna with Elix, I now understand why one of Bologna’s nicknames is “La Grossa” meaning The Fat One. The food is incredible and I could not stop eating! 

    Bolognese food is simple, authentic, delicious and oh so fresh. It is the home of tagliatelle, tortellini, mortadella and ragu (the Bolognese never have Spaghetti Bolognese!). On every street corner is the freshest, most colourful selection of fruit amd vegetables I have ever seen including bright purple raddichio, beautiful artichokes, juicy tomatoes and lovely pears.


    Elix and I spent the weekend trying lots of new and traditional dishes and whilst I wont be sharing any recipes in this blog, I wanted to share the experience as it as so fantastic!

    The first traditional Bolognese dish I ate was Tortellini in Brodo – simply – tiny tortellini in a broth. The first registration of a tortellini recipe was im Bologna – thin, light pasta encasing pork loin and prosciutto and a little cheese. A common dish in Bologna simply serves these tiny pillows of delight in a clear, rich chicken broth. Serving in such a way enhances the taste of the tortellini and is a perfect winter’s lunch. 

    I also tried pumpkin tortelli with ragu. The tortellini were sweet and when paired with rich ragu sauce made for a very tasty meal at a restaurant called Al Voltone. I will definitely be trying this dish at home.

     

    Now to talk about the ragu – this is as Bolognese as you will get – always served with tagliatelle (the Bolognese don’t eat spaghetti with ragu) – the silkier sheets of tagliatelli pasta provide a better vessel for the sauce to cling to ensuring you get a tasty mouthful with every bite. Whilst I need to try out my own recipes for traditional Bolognese ragu, the sauce generally uses just tomato paste (no chopped tomatoes), carrots, celery, onion, pancetta and minced beef along with wine, stock and olive oil. This is to be cooked very slowly – upto 3-4 hours until a rich, tasty sauce has developed. The sauce is less red than we get at home and tastes less sweet but really is delicious with some (proper)  Parmigiano-Reggiano scattered on top. The one below was the best, eaten at Osteria dell’Orsa – a tiny, very busy restaurant in the Jewish quarter.


    A dish we tried and loved was Cotoletta alla Bolognese and is the Bolognese equivalent of a Chicken Milanese. Here in Bologna – a thin pork or veal cutlet is covered in breadcrumbs and lightly fried adding local parma ham and parmesan to melt on top and serving with a light creamy sauce.  We ate at Il Tinello – a friendly, cosy yet lively restaurant with delicious food and wine and lovely traditional decor.


    As I always do on any trip abroad I tracked down a good market where we could eat a traditional lunch. Piadina it was! A piadina is a warm sandwich of thin Italian flatbread encasing the filling. We had ours with mortadella (a Bolognese staple – pork sausage flavoured with whole peppercorns, pistachios and nutmeg) and pecorino – a salty sheep’s cheese. At the stall in the Mercato di Mezzo there were dozens of flavours to choose from – all showcasing the best of Bolognese and Italian produce.

    Finally, we ate the best gelato I have ever eaten at a small Gelataria, south west of the centre. One of Elix’s friends had recommended La Sorbetteria and when I heard their signature flavour was bitter dark chocolate I couldn’t be stopped from marching through the rain to get there. The place didnt disappoint and my two scoops of Bitter Chocolate and Espresso, Mascarpone and Cacao made me a very happy lady! 

    A final bit of news about the trip is that I tried my first espresso! We spent our first day of the trip with my dear friend Laura and her huaband Johannes. They live in Florence and came to meet us and experience Bologna too. After a lovely lunch of antipasti, pasta and Sangiovese we stopped for a coffee and a cake. Johannes explained to me how the Italians treat the espresso as a quick social drink – always to be consumed in the cafe (never takeaway!) in the afternoons (no milk in coffee after lunchtime is the Italian rule) and with a little sweet on the side. And so i came to enjoy my first espresso with a little bombolino (fried choux pastry filled with custard) on the side. I think I’m a convert – the coffee was rich and silky, not at all bitter and a lovely pick me up on the chilly afternoon! 

    I would highly recommend Bologna it really lives up to its nicknames – La Grossa – the fat one, La Rossa – the red one and La Dotta the learned one – so much to eat, see and do!