We are eating what is in the fridge, to avoid going to the shops, and keeping it simple. We had some cuts of cooked pork in the freezer, and this was a really quick meal to make. The quantities below should serve 4-6 people, depending on their appetites, and the rest of the meal.
- 300g pasta such as penne rigate or pipe rigate, or tubetti
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 450g left-over cooked pork. chopped to 1cm dice
- a small glass of red wine
- 1 tin of tomatoes, preferably San Marzano tomatoes
- chopped flat-leaf parsley
- grated pecorino cheese
- Heat a large pan of salted water ready to cook the pasta
- In a skillet, or large heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil and then fry the chopped onion over a medium heat until it softens, around five minutes
- Add the pork, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and scrape round the bottom of the pan to pick up all of the flavour there.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, and rinse out the tin with a little water, adding this to the pan.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for around 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the pack. When it is done, drain it and add it to the sauce. Add a little pasta water if required, to get the sauce to a consistency that you like.
- Serve in bowls, garnished with parsley. The cheese should be grated and served in a dish on the table for people to serve themselves.
This is an adaptation of a recipe from ‘Vegetarian Pasta’ by Rose Elliot. We had quite a lot of cream and cheese left towards the end of the Christmas break, so this was an excellent way to pull everything together.
- 25g butter
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 300ml cream
- salt, black pepper
- grated nutmeg
- 400g tagliatelle or fettuccine
- 125g blue cheese such as St Agur or dolcelatte, chopped
- 125g spinach leaves, shredded
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, and add the onion. Cook very gently for ten minutes with the lid on. The onion should be tender, but not brown.
- Add the garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the cream, and leave to simmer very gently for another ten minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the tagliatelle. When the water boils, add the pasta, give it a stir and leave to cook for around 8 minutes.
- A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, add the cheese and spinach to the sauce, and stir to warm through, and season with pepper.
- Drain the cooked pasta and put it back in the warm pan, add a tablespoonful of good olive oil and stir.
- Serve in warm dishes with the sauce poured over the top. You can also pour the sauce onto the pasta in the pan, stir, and then serve onto warm dishes.
A kind friend gave me a large paper bag that contained around 400g of chanterelle mushrooms, foraged from a secret location on the mainland. These are a rare treat, and are best cooked simply, going well with garlic and butter.
- 90g unsalted butter, divided into two
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped, or half a large onion.
- Salt and pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 60ml dry white wine
- 400g chanterelles, brushed clean (halved if large)
- 120ml double cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- A good pinch of dried oregano
- Juice from half a lemon
- 200g tagliatelle or pappardelle
- Melt half the butter in a medium saucepan, and fry the onion over a medium heat until softened.
- Season with salt and pepper, and add the garlic, cooking for a further couple of minutes.
- Stir in the wine and continue cooking for another couple of minutes, reducing the sauce down.
- Add the remaining butter, and when it has melted, add the mushrooms. Continue to cook, stirring from time to time, for a further five minutes.
- Stir in the cream, oregano and a good grating of nutmeg, and continue to cook until it thickens a little, about another two minutes.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack.
- Drain the pasta, return to the pasta pan, stir in the sauce with the lemon juice, and adjust the seasoning if required,
- Serve in warmed bowls.
Cream sauce is a classic, but I usually only make this recipe when I have lots of vegetables in the garden, over the summer. This year I grew red orache, and it turned the whole dish a lovely pink colour.
- 25g butter (use vegetable oil for a vegan version)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 300ml cream (use soya cream for a vegan version)
- salt and pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- Approx 700g fresh vegetables – a mixture of orache, shelled broad beans, mange tout, asparagus tips, carrots, etcetera
- 400g pasta (best with fusilli)
- A good squeeze of lemon juice
- Herb garnish (chervil, or parsley, or chive flowers)
- Melt the butter in a small to medium saucepan, and add gently cook the onion for around 10 minutes until tender.
- Add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes, and then add the cream. Leave to simmer gently so that the mixture thickens, around 10 minutes.
- Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and set aside until it is required.
- Prepare the vegetables; cut the asparagus into 2 cm lengths, peel and cut the carrots into similar sized pieces, cut the orache or spinach to large shreds.
- Steam the beans, asparagus and carrots for around 5 minutes, then add the other vegetables for another 3 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, around 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetables to the cream sauce and bring to a simmer, check the seasoning and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Do not forget this step because it is a bit dull without it.
- Add the sauce to the drained pasta, and serve on warmed plates, garnished with herbs.
This is a bit of a mixture of recipes. My daughter left some Orzo pasta when she last visited. I hadn’t come across it before, it looks like large bits of rice. So I googled and tested and used what was in my fridge and freezer. This is heavily based on Nigella Lawson’s dish of the same name, but there are other twists from similar recipes.
You could use one of my other meatball recipes to make the meatball mixture, but I followed the method below. The recipe makes six servings.
- 500g mince
- 1 large egg
- 50g breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 50g grated parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 litre cold water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano (I actually used the mystery herbs)
- 60ml red vermouth or red wine
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 300g orzo pasta
- Put the mince, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, parmesan and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl, and mix to a smooth paste. Leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour minimum.
- Heat the oven to 180C
- Make small meatballs from the mixture, about the size of a large marble. I made around 35. They should be small enough to eat whole without looking greedy. Put them onto the bottom of a roasting tray or baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs in the oven for around fifteen minutes.
- MEANWHILE get ready for the sauce and pasta. Get the ingredients assembled.
- Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or pan with a lid. Cook the chopped onion over a medium heat for around 10 minutes until very soft and cooked
- Add the herbs and stir them in, before adding the vermouth.
- Once the vermouth is hot and bubbling, add the tomatoes, and rinse out the tins with the water before adding that as well. Add 1 tsp salt at this stage.
- Bring the mixture back to a simmer, and let it cook with the lid on for around twenty minutes.
- Add the orzo and the meatballs, bring back to a simmer, and cook with the lid on for a further ten to fifteen minutes. The orzo has a tendency to stick, so the occasional stir will help.
- Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley.
- I also served a dish of grilled asparagus and buttered baby carrots.
I put seaweed on my soft fruit plants this year, and as a result, I think I imported a load of orache seeds. If you don’t know, orache is a weed that grows on the upper shore at this time of year, and it is delicious. I’ve got more than I can eat at the moment, the most successful vegetable in my garden at the moment. I also had some left-over wholewheat pasta courtesy of my super-healthy children, so I used that too. Plain pasta is good too.
- 200g pasta
- enough orache to feed four people (no idea of weight, it just looked OK)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped, not crushed
- olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- a squeeze of orange juice
- 50g pine-nuts, toasted
- 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Fill a large pan with water, bring to the boil and then add the pasta along with a good spoonful of salt, and bring the water back to the boil. Let the pasta cook as long as the pack says (8 minutes for plain pasta, 11 minutes for wholewheat is the usual thing)
- A couple of minutes before the pasta is done, stir-fry the orache and garlic in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes, until the orache has wilted. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
- Drain the cooked pasta and the put it back in the warm pan. Add the orache and the pine nuts and parmesan. Give it all a quick stir, check the seasoning, and serve.
This is a quick recipe from Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. This is a classic recipe book, lots of recipes, along with descriptions of context and history of individual dishes. It was first published in Britain in 1954.
I had some ham that I purchased from the reduced section in the co-op, and it was a work night tonight, so something quick and easy was required.
- 50g tagliatelle per person
- 50g cooked ham per person, cut into strips
- 25g freshly grated parmesan per person
- Black pepper
- Cook the pasta in boiling water for around 8 minutes, or until done.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter and cook the ham for around 3 minutes, until warm through.
- When the pasta is done, drain it and add all of the butter and ham and half of the parmesan, stir together and serve with the rest of the parmesan and black pepper for seasoning.
Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta is another recipe book that has stood the test of time on my bookshelf; I bought it in 1997. I have already got some of Rose Elliot’s other recipe books, but this one lifted vegetarian cookery to another plane, into something fresh and colourful. Several of my other recipe books at the time were a bit worthy. The book is illustrated with wonderful photographs, as well as plenty of practical and tasty recipes.
The recipes are divided into types of pasta recipe, starting with soup, moving onto salads, simple dishes, and then the classic sauces and baked pasta dishes. Most of the ingredients are readily available locally, and the methods of cooking are easy to follow.
One difficulty that I have is that the index could be better. If I have, for example, leeks and carrots, I would like to be able to find recipes that use these ingredients. The index only lists dishes by recipe title or type of pasta. But that is a minor grumble.
I recommend this book to you all.
I thought I was being brilliant and inventive and then discovered that this is a classic. There are hundreds of versions on the internet already.
- Around 250ml sweet tomato sauce
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 tbsp mystery herb mixture including dried chillies from a present from Italy
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g pasta
- Start by bringing a pan of water to the boil, and cook the pasta for the time advised on the pack, usually around 8 to 9 minutes.
- In another pan, heat the olive oil, add the mystery herbs and after a few seconds, add the tomato sauce and bring it to a simmer.
- Drain the chickpeas and add to the tomato sauce, and bring it back to a simmer.
- When the pasta is done, drain and stir in the sauce and then serve
This sauce is good mixed with small pasta, or layered with lasagne and a bechamel sauce and baked. In fact, I bet you could mix it with small pasta and bake it. I have tried it two ways, once using some mystery chilli and herb seasoning that a relative bought back from Italy for me. I made a small quantity suitable for two or three people, so double this would be a really good lot of sauce sufficient to serve around six people.
Top tip discovered whilst doing this: One handful of small pasta weighs a good ounce. Three handfuls is one good-size portion of pasta. There are other versions of this classic sauce around: I found one in The Pasta Bible, and another on Allrecipes website
- 2 tsbs olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- A handful of fresh parsley (I used fresh flat-leaf parsley from the garden)
- 1 medium aubergine, diced
- 1/2 handful fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 tsp ground chilli (or use a small fresh chilli and add it with the garlic)
- 1/2 cup of boiling water
- Pinch of saffron
- 1/2 tsp marigold stock powder
- 1 tin chopped organic tomatoes
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- (If you are using the mystery Italian seasoning from the holiday pack of pasta, use this in place of the parsley, chilli, basil and paprika, and add with the aubergines: I would suggests a heaped teaspoonful)
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and add the garlic and parsley.
- Turn the heat to very low, squish the garlic with a wooden spoon, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes while you chop the aubergine. I got nervous about this, it seemed a long time, so I checked every so often, and took it off the heat once the garlic looked cooked.
- If you used a small whole fresh chilli, remove this now. Add the aubergines, chilli powder, basil, half the water, and cover to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- I put the marigold stock powder into the remaining hot water, along with the saffron and sugar and allowed this to infuse.
- After the 10 minutes is up, add the water, saffron, sugar, stock powder, wine and tomatoes, along with the paprika. Season to taste, cover and settle it to simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Once the sauce is cooked, put it somewhere safe, boil up the pasta of your choice, drain and then stir in the sauce.
- If you are using this for a baked pasta dish, stir in the cooked pasta, put it into an ovenproof dish, top with mozzarella, and bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven.