Spaghetti with courgettes

This year has been a bit slow for growing vegetables, the lack of sun has not helped at all. I have now got a lot of carrots, some broad beans, we’ve had a couple of crops of mange tout peas as well. I headed up to Tagsa Community Gardens to get some chard to cook with the beans, and ended up coming away with a couple of delicious courgettes. 

I made this recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘, a book of Italian recipes, along with stories of the family that runs Valvona and Crolla. They used double these quantities; this made a good meal for the two of us. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 courgettes
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 180g spaghetti or similar pasta
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the courgettes.
  • Clean the courgettes, trip off the top and tail, and grate with a coarse grater
  • Warm the olive oil, and add the garlic, fry it gently until it just starts to colour brown, and then add  the courgettes. Turn the heat up a little and stir, cooking until the courgettes are beginning to brown a little at the edges. Add the rosemary and season with salt, and then cover, and turn the heat off. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add to the frying pan with the courgettes, toss and mix everything together, and serve with black pepper. 

Carrots, goat’s cheese, thyme, sundried tomatoes and pasta

I started with this recipe from Rose Elliot’s ‘Pasta Pasta’, aiming to work out the proportions per person, allowing me to cook for one person or six. I am planning on trying a squeeze of lemon juice next time, or some pine nuts. Not sure.

INGREDIENTS per person:

  • 100g farfalle pasta
  • 50g grated carrot
  • 50g chopped sundried tomatoes
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 50g grated hard goat’s cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • A drizzle of good olive oil

METHOD:

  • Put on a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Prepare the carrots, tomatoes and cheese while the water heats
  • Boil the pasta for around 8 minutes. For the last minute of cooking, add the grated carrot. Stir and drain, and return to the pan
  • Add the olive oil, thyme, grated cheese and sundried tomatoes, season and stir to mix. 

 

Spaghettini with mangetout, herbs, garlic and butter

This is a quick recipe involving some of the new peas and young herbs from the garden. It was quick and delicious. I had some spaghettini, which is like spaghetti but thinner and faster to cook, you could use spaghetti which is thicker, or capellini which is finer. I was cooking for myself only, so I scaled the recipe appropriately. You can scale it up as required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 75g mangetout
  • around 75g pasta
  • around 20g butter
  • 4 tbsp chopped herbs, a mixture of parsley, basil and chives, or chive flowers
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan to taste

METHOD:

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  • Meanwhile prepare the peas; remove any stringy bits and cut to your preferred size, and put into a steamer, ready to cook. 
  • Mix the crushed garlic, a grate of salt, butter and herbs together in a small warm bowl. 
  • Put the spaghettini in the sauce pan, put the peas over the top in the steamer, and cook until the spaghettini is just about cooked. Drain the pasta when it is ready, and return to the hot pan. 
  • Mix the butter and herbs into the pasta, then mix in the peas
  • Serve with a dredging of grated parmesan and black pepper to taste. 

Pasta with mangetout peas, lemon and basil

This recipe is from Rose Elliot’s book, Vegetarian Pasta. The recipes are fab, the indexing is not, so I don’t use it that often. However, we are having days of scorching weather and fantastic vegetables, so I dived in to the section on quick recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400g farfalle, or similar
  • Salt
  • 350g mangetout peas
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • Juice and finely shredded rind of 1 lemon
  • Black pepper, grated
  • A handful of large basil leaves

METHOD:

  • Set a large pan of salted water on to boil, add the pasta when boiling, and give it a good swirl so the farfalle don’t stick together. Boil the pasta for around 8 minutes, or follow the guidance on the packaging. 
  • About a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the peas.
  • Strain the peas and pasta, and return to the warm pan. Add all of the other ingredients, and divide into serving bowls. 

Pasticcio – Greek baked macaroni with lamb mince

This feeds about eight people, or six very hungry teenagers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450g macaroni
  • 250g ricotta
  • 75g parmesan
  • 50ml cream
  • 2-3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg

METHOD:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, and very gently fry the onion for around ten minutes. Towards the end of the cooking, add the chopped garlic. 
  • Add the lamb mince, and turn the heat up to medium. Stir it into the hot oil to brown it, around 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cinnamon as you cook the mince
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock cube, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper at the end of cooking. 
  • Next, cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the pack. 
  • In a bowl, combine the ricotta, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs. Stir in 50g of grated parmesan. Stir in the cooked macaroni
  • Pour the mince into a large lasagne dish, and then top this with the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with around 25g grated parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

I served this with a green salad. It is good the next day served at room temperature. 

Maccheroni alla carbonara

This is one of the classic Italian sauces. I like to add tarragon but it is not essential. Here is a recipe to serve two, based on ingredients available locally. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 egg
  • Approx. 60g streaky bacon, not smoked
  • Approx. 120g pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, rigatoni)
  • 30g butter
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper
  • 30g grated parmesan or pecorino

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it boils, add the pasta and set the timer for 8 minutes (or cooking time on the manufacturer’s packaging), and set the dishes to warm.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan. Cut the bacon into small match-stick strips and fry on a low heat in the butter. 
  • Beat the egg with the tarragon, pepper and salt. 
  • When the timer goes, drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the egg to the bacon pan and stir until they begin to thicken. 
  • While the eggs and bacon are still semi-solid, add to the pasta and stir to mix, along with half the cheese
  • Serve in warmed dishes with the rest of the cheese. 

Spaghetti with mushrooms and bacon

This is based on a recipe using tonnarelle, which is similar to spaghetti. I am trying to get the fridge a bit emptier, and we had some streaky bacon and some fonteluna sausage from Valvona and Crolla, as well as some pecorino cheese. This is so simple, and very filling. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g spaghetti, or tagliolini or tonnarelle, if available
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut in thin strips (should be pancetta, but I didn’t have any)
  • 75g fonteluna sausage cut into small pieces (if you have no sausage, use 150g bacon or pancetta)
  • 30g butter
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 60g Pecorino cheese

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a pan, and fry the bacon and sausage very slowly, and when it is starting to cook, add the mushrooms, and continue to simmer together
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it comes to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes or so. 
  • When the mushrooms are cooked, season with salt and add the grated pecorino cheese. 
  • When the pasta is done, drain it, and return it to the plan. Pour the sauce over the top and serve. You can stir extra butter in, and add extra cheese as well. 

I had a side salad with it, it is a bit rich without. 

Tomato and butter sauce for penne or gnocci

This is a very easy recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘ – it feels very indulgent adding all that butter, but the sauce is unbelievably tasty. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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)
  • salt
  • Penne pasta or gnocci – allow 60 to 75g per person
  • freshly grated pecorino cheese

METHOD:

  • 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

Fresh tomato sauce with ricotta and pecorino – to serve with spaghettini

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. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

METHOD:

  • 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. 

 

Fettuccine with Carrot and Tarragon Carbonara

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

METHOD:

  • 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.