This is a very easy recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘ – it feels very indulgent adding all that butter, but the sauce is unbelievably tasty.
- One tin of tomatoes (I used chopped tinned tomatoes)
- A small shallot, peeled but not chopped
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- A pinch of dried rosemary (a sprig of fresh rosemary is better if it is available)
- Penne pasta or gnocci – allow 60 to 75g per person
- freshly grated pecorino cheese
- Put the tomatoes through a mouli or sieve to get rid of the seeds. It is easier if you blend them in a liquidiser first.
- Put the sieved tomatoes in a small saucepan with the shallot, sugar and butter, and bring to a slow simmer. Put a wooden spoon in the pan and then put the lid on, so it is propped open a little. Keep simmering and stirring to reduce the sauce. Cook for 30 minutes
- When the sauce is cooked, take out the shallot, add the rosemary and season with salt.
- Cook the penne or gnocchi, and drain, pour over enough sauce and then add freshly grated pecorino cheese
I’ve just read ‘Dear Francesca’ from cover to cover. The recipes use a relatively small range of ingredients to create wonderful food. This is one of the first recipes I tried, using a tray of cherry tomatoes that had ended up in my fridge, along with some of the staples from the book: ricotta and pecorino.
I didn’t have spaghettini, so I used spaghetti, which is very slightly thicker. It was fine, I had no complaints.
- 3 tbsp good extra-virgin olive oil
- A punnet of cherry tomatoes, or a couple of good handfuls, quartered
- a clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 180g spaghettini (or enough pasta for 2 people, whatever your usual measure is, I allow 60 to 75g per person)
- salt and black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
- two good pinches of dried oregano
- freshly grated pecorino
- Heat the oil in a pan, and add the tomatoes and garlic. Turn the heat down low and let them cook for ten minutes. There will be a bit of sizzling.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water, according to the instructions.
- When the tomatoes are completely softened, add the oregano and the ricotta cheese, and mix well. Check for taste and add salt if required.
- When the spaghettini is cooked, drain it, return to the pan and add the sauce, pecorino and a grating of good black pepper.
The last of last year’s carrots, and the best of this spring’s eggs, with some fantastic pasta from the co-op. I pulled the inspiration for this recipe from one of my older recipe books, The Quick After-Work Vegetarian Cookbook. It has several ‘go-to’ recipes in it, but I often tweak them to suit my taste. This one, I tweaked the quantities to suit two quite hungry people.
INGREDIENTS (PER PERSON):
- 1 carrot
- 1 egg
- 25g butter
- 75g pasta
- 25g pecorino
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- salt and freshly grated black pepper
- Put a pan of salted water on to boil while you prepare the other ingredients.
- When the water comes to the boil, add the pasta, and cook as instructed on the pack, usually around 8 minutes.
- Peel and chop the carrot finely.
- Melt the butter, and add the dried tarragon and carrots, cook gently for around 7 minutes until the carrots are tender.
- Beat the eggs and then add the grated cheese, a pinch of salt and a good grating of pepper.
- When the pasta is done, drain it, return it to the hot pan, add the hot carrots and butter and then stir in the cheese and eggs, which will cook in the heat of the pasta.
- Serve in warmed plates. The egg should still be a little runny, like the centre of an omelette.
A light, sharp-flavoured green salad and a light fresh white wine would go well with this.
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.