It is St Patrick’s Day and I know I should be blogging something *Irish* but here you go, there is some green in here at least. I really should be showing you a proper Irish stew, bacon and cabbage or crubeens (Irish for trotters) but when I arrived in Amsterdam, I was shattered, covered in mosquito bites and craving comfort. So, I made this.
Pasta is one of my favourite quick fixes. Once you buy a good one, or take the time to make some yourself, the rest is easy, and soon after you can find yourself eating something soothing and delicious. This is a mixture of the random ingredients that I have been collecting on my trips: some speck from Berlin, some pul biber from Istanbul (a fantastic firey, rich and deep flaked pepper) and the rest from the local shop in Amsterdam, around the corner from my apartment.
The result was perfect, almost medicinal. The soft goat’s cheese with some pasta cooking water serves as the soothing part of the sauce, the sweet squash was tender and spiked with pul biber, all wrapped in spinach sheets. Pine nuts provide an extra layer of flavour and a nice textural contrast.
Check Turkish shops for pul biber, or look online. It is worth the effort. Omit the speck if you want to do a vegetarian version, the pul biber will provide enough depth.
Enjoy! Let me know how you like it.
Recipe: Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber
200g good tagliatelle
half an onion squash or the equivalent amount of pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced
a couple of handfuls of young tender spinach, washed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
125g soft goat’s cheese
150g speck or pancetta, diced (skin removed if necessary)
25g pine nuts, lightly toasted on a hot dry pan (watch them, they can burn quickly)
1 tbsp pul biber – or to taste – substitute with less dried chilli
Sauté the speck in its own fat for a couple of minutes over a medium heat, then add the squash and cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften.
Put the tagliatelle in boiling lightly salted water to cook, according to packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking add the garlic to the squash and cook for a minute, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Finish with the goat’s cheese, stirring through until it is melted. Add a little of the pasta cooking water to loosen it out.
When the tagliatelle is al dente – cooked but still with a bite – add to the sauce, and stir through. Season to taste and serve sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts.