All posts filed under: Pasta

Pasta e Fagioli

You know that food you love? The one that is so everyday, common place, so simple, but so very good. You make it all the time, and eat it joyfully. It rescues you from every grey day, every brain cloud. It is perfect and it knows how to tackle your mood. It totally gets you. But, that amazing dish itself is misunderstood. Often because it is not made right, not faithfully, or with love and care. Pasta e Fagioli is one of those dishes. Carbs and beans? CARBS AND BEANS?! Why is everyone so harsh about the carbs these days? They are delicious, and soothing, and yes, I do eat too much of them, but how can I not? They are pasta, sourdough bread, udon noodles. All of the most delicious things that soothe my week. I eat well, I don’t eat processed food (except for occasional crisp and haribo based lapses), I feel no guilt. Why should I? Carbs are ok folks. Just relax and enjoy your dinner. Life is hard enough without removing …

Homemade Malloreddus (Gnocchetti Sardi) with Bacon, Peas, Chilli, Courgette & Parmesan

Fresh pasta is such a faff, right? You always want to do it but the stuff you get in the shop is just as good, right? I mean, who has that much time? All of the above assumptions are incorrect. Fresh pasta is really quite straightforward and it is so much better (unless you are spending a lot of money on your dried pasta). It takes time but a lot of that time the dough is just resting and waiting for you. You make the dough – which depends on the pasta type, generally dough in the North is made with 00 pasta flour and eggs, and with water and semolina flour (a coarser grind of durum wheat) in the South – this usually takes 5 – 10 minutes. You let it rest as you have just beaten it about the place and it needs to unwind. Then you roll and shape it. Even hand rolling tagliatelle does not take that long, but some of the smaller shapes are super speedy, with practice.  Of course …

Rigatoni with Bolognese Style Ragu and Crispy Kale

Can you handle another ragu recipe? So close to the last? I ate this ragu several days in a row last week, which is normally something that I am loathe to do, but this was so delicious and utterly more-ish, that I couldn’t resist it. It has a little twist too. Normally ragu is served with parmesan, but I chose something else, also intense, oven crisped kale with paprika and sea salt, for a wonderful textural and flavour contrast. It is something that I do quite often, I have blogged about it before too. One of the things that I love about Italy is their adherence to tradition. They love their recipe rules and stick stringently to them. Very much so. Do not break the rules! They eat so well as a result. Who wouldn’t want to be Italian? One of the good things about not being Italian is that I can come home and absorb all of the different influences and stories and concoct something new. I can make something inspired by tradition, but not …

Making Tagliatelle with Ragu with Anna – an Emilia Romagna Recipe

One thing  that I learned on my recent trip to Emilia Romagna is that every recipe and every dish is personal. Passion exudes from every pore, and never more than when the topic of food or the particulars of a recipe are under discussion. People in Emilia Romagna are very animated over lunch, and they are mainly discussing the food that they are eating, and just that. I love that. People get particularly excited about homemade tagliatelle with ragu. It originates there, and Emilia has one way, Romagna another. Within those regions different families have their own approach. Bologna has a meaty dense ragu of its own (hence, Bolognese sauce). The personal differences are glorious. I had so many different ragus in trattorias all over the region. Some dense with meat and assertive, one cooked in lard and layered with white pepper (my favourite, I think), some rich and fruity with tomato with the meat appearing to surf it. I cooked ragu with two people in Emilia Romagna. The first was Anna, a wonderful lady based in Savignano sul Rubicone in Emilia Romagna. …

Recipe: Linguine with a simple tomato sauce, wild garlic flowers and pine nuts

I wasn’t planning on blogging this recipe. I arrived back from Ireland extremely tired and with no voice, replete with booming scratchy cough. I was in reasonable spirits though as I had just spent a great weekend at the new Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine. It was a terrific event and weekend, drawing the worlds best food & drink writing talent to East Cork. But, that deserves a whole post on its own and I will come back to that. On my return I was tired, hungry and in need of nourishment. Something delicious but not too challenging. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and London was alive. We had our first peep of summer. So, I brought summer to my kitchen too. I eat this dish a lot. I adore pasta and I love quick pasta dishes like this one, carbonara, gricia and many more. The secret to this dish is to use the best ingredients. There are so few that if you don’t, you will know. I had fabulous …

Recipe: Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber

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 …

Recipe: Spaghetti with Tomato, Calabrian Chilli, Rosemary & Kale

I found myself down an unfamiliar January cul de sac yesterday evening. Already in the midst of a Spring clean (my hoarding demands it) and with my eyes and mind firmly planted on a tin of pork sausages confit in goose fat in my cupboard, I found myself wander as I cleaned, towards the bag of kale in the fridge. I love kale, I find it fiercely underrated and viewed as the cheap relation to the swisher (and also delicious but more expensive) cavolo nero. However, I had determined that after the horror of spring cleaning I wanted indulgence. Goose fat preserved sausages seemed more my thing. I went with the kale though, to kill the craving, I was beginning to obsess. The cleaning had demanded freshness and vibrance instead. Spaghetti is frowned upon by dieters but ponder this: (good) pasta cooked al dente is low GI. When I say good, I mean pasta that is made with great flour that is high in protein, made properly using bronze dies and not teflon so that …

A Busiata: Pasta Fresca in San Vito Lo Capo

I just love it when by accident you happen across somewhere special. Wandering home from Cous Cous Fest, tired and no longer able to deal with the crowds, I saw a little doorway with people lingering outside. I spied the sign “a busiata” outside, and then, lo, above the door, “Fresh Pasta”. I peered through the rope doorway and saw a gorgeous little space with a few shelves lined with choice products, a fridge full of glorious handmade pastas, and a counter with some more. Fresh cous cous with herbs and dried cous cous were available, this is the town of cous cous after all. Local almonds, biscotti and other Sicilian biscuits (there are a lot!) graced the counter top and behind it, the matriarch was making busiati. What luck! I waited my turn and attempted to communicate (I really need to learn Italian properly!). I wanted everything, but mindful of RyanAir’s ridiculous restrictions I bought 2kg of fresh busiati – 1kg white & 1kg green for €10. A steal. It’s absolutely gorgeous, it may …

And so now we have Autumn

That was a quick seasonal change, wasn’t it? Over 24 hours? I should have been really miserable yesterday. Utterly miserable. I had a horrible cold (I still have it). I sneezed so many times in a row on the plane back from Stockholm that a neighbouring German businessman looked at me with horror. I can only imagine that I must have sounded like an ebola monkey and looked worse. Grim it was, and I was not happy about it. Returning to work yesterday, I was so congested as to be inaudible. Scratch that, more indecipherable. The cold and my vowels had co-conspired, consonants were absent, and someone actually asked me if I was speaking Irish. No, I am not, but I think I might have started talking to myself in frustration. Roll on yesterday evening, as I dragged my corpse north towards home. I had plans to go to a gig (Iron & Wine if you are interested), but it seemed silly and unfair to anyone near me. So, like a melting sugar mouse, I pushed further …

Summer Pasta #1 – Crab Linguine

I adore light summer pastas, so I thought that I would do a little series, starting with one of my favourites, crab linguine. Crab is a wonderful delicate meat. Light and fluffy and tasting of the sea. One of my favourite restaurant dishes ever, was a River Cafe starter of crab on toast with a light salad. It was so simple and gorgeous, with stunning fresh ingredients. Growing up in Ireland, I thought that eating crabs was plain insane. Our elderly neighbour used to catch enormous ones in a bucket at a rocky beach near our house and boiled them up for her alsatian dog. I envy that dog now but at the time I felt it was an act of cruelty. I was also terrified that she would come near me with her bucket of living sideways walking friends. I was afraid of crabs, and really anything living in the sea, I remember standing on an isolated rock shrieking with horror as the crabs ascended. I thought that they would eat me. They didn’t …

Orzo salad with pesto, tomatoes & knockalara cheese

Another day, another gorgeous recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery Course Cookbook, all in the hope of raising money for the World Food Programme’s efforts in Lesotho. If this is your first time hearing of it, briefly: Chez Pim has announced Menu for Hope 4 – her annual fundraising event. Inspired by the Tsnuami 5 years ago, in 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry. I applaud her for this effort and would like to spread the word by directing you to her blog. This year, she is again supporting the UN World Food Programme. More on how to buy a raffle ticket and prizes here, for now – back to food. This cookbook hasn’t failed me yet. This recipe is very simple and quick, perfect for today’s lunch. It’s the litle details that really make it – sprinkling some sugar and balsamic vinegar on the cut tomatoes preserves and enhances their lovely flavour. I love the texture and flavour of orzo, a pasta grain with a …

Ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato

Today’s recipe is ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato – a twist on Pasta e Fagioli that I made for lunch today. I’m a girl with an eye for detail, at least when it comes to food (for you friends reading, shocked that I typed that! ;)). I didn’t want to blog pasta e fagioli yet, because I wanted to make sure that the one I eventually blog is traditional, accurate and painstakingly researched. I am almost there, but not quite. So, instead, I will blog part of the research towards that goal and call it ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato. It’s a vegetarian version, intentionally, I wanted something with clean, crisp flavours, light & fruity and healthy. So, how to go about this? Spend a Sunday morning wandering around the food halls of London, unintentionally picking up the ingredients. Beautiful big red tomatoes of the type you would see in the mediteranean, fresh borlotti beans in their pink stripey pods, bursting to come out, ditalini pasta, shallots, garlic & …

Courgette Carbonara

I have been living in London for some time now – 6 years – and have noticed that my hiberno-english lilt has absorbed some new words and phrases, I recently caught myself saying mate and as though to make room I am losing the frequency of some old regulars e.g. I am saying grand alot less. It’s all part of adapting, people still don’t understand what I am saying at times, although that may have alot to do with my rush to say everything especially when I am enthusiastic about the topic. What I never expected was that someday, out of the blue, I would call a courgette a zucchini. Where did that come from? I live in England, I am from Ireland, it’s a courgette in both places! I blame cookbooks and American televison shows, it’s as though, through some process of verbal osmosis, the external zucchini influences overpowered the courgette ones and forced itself out one evening unexpectedly. I am now making a very conscious effort to say courgette, which may sound very …

Tagliatelle with chanterelles

One of my favourite food shops in London is near where I work. It’s an old school Italian deli that’s been in the area over 40 years. It’s there to serve the local Italian community and has the best produce at great prices. It’s run by an elderly Italian couple who run it with style – no pressure, no rush, if you want to be served you’ll wait your turn, but, when it is your turn they’ll take their time with you and get what you ask & make suggestions if you want them. They’ll grind coffee for you, slice meats, make sandwiches with what’s in the fridge – there’s no menu, whatever’s your fancy. There’s a stool in the shop that’s frequently occupied by one of the owners friends for a chat, or, one of the Italian builders working across the road who has stopped off to eat his lunch. It’s a little slice of Italy in London, an escape from the chaos outside the door. Sometimes they have random produce, like today when …

Pasta with potato, red lentil and pumpkin

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything but I’ve got a few things to post from the weekend. I’ll start with a pasta dish that I made yesterday, one of my comfort food favourites. I tend to make this by eye and by tastebud, adjusting it as I go so feel free to be flexible with the recipe. My mood also affects it, sometimes I like it very soup-y with alot of stock, other times I prefer the pasta to be the star of the show. Yesterday was a pasta day! I got the idea for it many years ago when I visited Italy with some friends, one of whom was a local. I got many ideas that holiday, we had some wonderful food, much of it cooked by my friends boyfriends Dad whom we were staying with. It was my first time having homemade pumpkin gnocchi and proper neapolitan mozarella di bufala. It was out of this world. You just don’t get that mozarella anywhere else and I have tried very hard …

Now to start: Spaghetti with homemade tomato & basil sauce and garlic toasts

So, I thought it best to start with something really simple and delicious that I can’t misrepresent on my new blog! This is one of my quick fixes, some food for the heart and soul that’s sometimes required after a long day when you know you have only got a short evening ahead. Ingredients (for two with large appetities): Half a packet of spaghetti (linguine also works really well) Sauce: 1 tin of tomatoes (I use La Fiammante, gorgeous fruity Italian tomatoes) a handful of basil (I used greek basil – I love it’s tiny leaves and potency) a dessert spoon of sugar a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar dried or fresh chilli – as much as you like, I like it hot one white onion 2 cloves of garlic (or one big one) Extra Virgin Olive oil to drizzle on top Garlic Toasts: Baguette or nice ciabatta. I prefer the second but the deli had run out. 1 garlic clove Extra Virgin Olive Oil Method: Chop the onion and garlic finely. Saute the onion until …