Archive for the 'pasta' Category

Porcini, parsley and pine nut pasta

porcini, parsley and pine nut pasta

porcini, parsley and pine nut pasta

If you want a quick and easy pasta recipe which is totally delicious look no further than this sauce, called Tocco di funghi alla genovese, made with dry porcini mushrooms, parsley, garlic and pine nuts . It was shared on the picket line by a good colleague of mine (Annalisa), Italian like myself. Yes, I have been on strike for the past few weeks , together with thousands of other lecturers nationwide, to protest about the proposed massive cuts to our pensions. Let’s not go into details. However, I will say this: although it hasn’t been pleasant to stand outside in the cold and the rain these past few weeks, the upside has been the sense of camaraderie amongst the fellow strikers and the many interesting conversations struck (pardon the pun) with various people at different times. One of the many topics discussed was food. It is after all one of the pleasures of life. Annalisa kindly shared this amazing pasta sauce while on the “barricades”. As the name suggests it comes from the Liguria region, where Genova is situated. I guarantee that if you make it once you’ll want to make it again. Da leccarsi i baffi, per dirla in italiano! Continue reading ‘Porcini, parsley and pine nut pasta’

Pasta and cauliflower cheese bake

pasta and cauliflower cheese bake

pasta and cauliflower cheese bake

First of all apologies for the rather messy and unprofessional picture. I remembered I needed to take one when I had already served a couple of people. OOPS! Still, what counts is the taste, right? And this dish was so comforting it deserves to be shared. How could I not blog it? I am not a fan of cauliflower but if you add a bechamel sauce to it and bake it I could eat it every day. This is a variation on cauliflower cheese but I think the addition of pasta works really well. An ideal dish to have now that the days are getting shorter again and autumn is knocking at the door. Continue reading ‘Pasta and cauliflower cheese bake’

Pasta with cavolo nero, ricotta and pancetta

pasta with cavolo nero, ricotta and pancetta

pasta with cavolo nero, ricotta and pancetta

Can you believe that now you can buy cavolo nero (literally: black cabbage) here in the North of England? For those who don’t know what it is: it’s a cabbage with a longish, knobbly, blackish  sort of leaf, very common in Tuscany. I confess I had never cooked with it before but apparently it’s packed full of minerals and vitamins and really good for you. I made this simple pasta dish not so long ago and was really quite pleased with it. Mind you, I made the mistake of not getting rid of the woody stalk which of the cabbage which was rather hard and chewy. Next time I would only use the leaves. I found the recipe on the Giallo zafferano blog. Continue reading ‘Pasta with cavolo nero, ricotta and pancetta’

Spinach spätzle


I FINALLY got round to using the spätzle maker that my German friend Beate had kindly given me (see picture below for what it looks like). After literally YEARS! HURRAH! Better late than never,eh? Good things come to those who wait, and all that! Anyway, I can see I will be using it again real soon as it was really a very straightforward and simple affair. What are spätzle? They are a German/Austrian speciality. Basically they are little gnocchi (dumplings) made with flour, eggs and water. Uneven, worm shaped pasta, basically. You make the mixture, then you put it in what looks like a potato press and squeeze it on top of a pan of boiling water. They cook instantaneously as they drop in the water. Traditionally they are eaten with a cheese and fried onion sauce.  I made the spinach version. I thought they were very tasty and easy. I simply dressed them with a sage and butter sauce and sprinkled them generously with grated parmesan. Delicious! The recipe comes from the Giallo Zafferano blog, slightly adapted. Continue reading ‘Spinach spätzle’

Spaghetti with courgette, salmon and saffron

spaghetti with courgette, salmon and saffron

spaghetti with courgette, salmon and saffron


If one wanted one could make a different pasta sauce every day of the year. Pasta is so versatile! And yet we invariably end up  making the same sauces, week in week out. Am I right? All we need is a bit of inspiration. So ta dah! Here’s a quick and easy recipe for you to try.  It was  Manuela, my step mother, who made this lovely pasta dish for me, originally using pancetta. I substituted it with salmon, as I am  semi vegetarian now, and I thought it worked very well too. Of course, you can use any kind of pasta you like. So what are you waiting for: it’s quick, it’s easy and it’s tasty! No excuses to make that boring bolognaise sauce or carbonara yet again! Continue reading ‘Spaghetti with courgette, salmon and saffron’

Linguine with fennel, rocket and lemon

fettuccine with fennel, rocket and lemon

Pasta is such a versatile dish. There must be thousands of different recipes out there waiting to be made and yet we always end up making the same old, same old. But last night I was determined to find a new one to add to my repertoire. And this is what I found, which I’m now sharing with you. It’s in the Veg book by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall (great collection of vegetarian recipes, by the way!). It’s really fresh tasting, thanks to the lemon zest and incredibly quick and easy to make. I was impressed and will certainly make it again. Of course you can use any pasta you like. I believe good old Hugh uses tagliatelle. Continue reading ‘Linguine with fennel, rocket and lemon’

Fettuccine with cherry tomatoes and asparagus

fettuccine with asparagus and cherry tomatoes

First of all a warm welcome to Lauma, Tomik’s younger sister, making her first appearance on the blog (see previous recipe blogged by Candi) ! Aren’t they cute these two little cats! :-) Well folks, let me be honest here. It ain’t a bundle of fun to break one’s leg, I tell you! Apart from the boredom of being confined in the house,  even the simplest of tasks become a massive chore…cooking being one of them. At present my husband has been given the title of honourary chef, or should I say commis chef: I instruct, he cooks. Obviously I have to choose very simple and straightforward things or he wouldn’t be so cooperative. Anyway the other day we made this quick and healthy pasta dish together. I found this recipe in a book  called The Low-Gi vegetarian cookbook by Rose Elliot.  I adapted the recipe slightly by adding  to the past some olive oil which had been infused with garlic and a bit of chilli. Purely because the first time I made it  I thought it was slightly bland. Anyway, this is healthy, quick and easy. Recommended for anyone in a hurry. Continue reading ‘Fettuccine with cherry tomatoes and asparagus’

Spaghetti alla notte di san Lorenzo

spaghetti di San Lorenzo

Ok, first of all I have to explain the title here. La notte di san Lorenzo, or saint Lawrence night, is the 10th of August which is when, in theory, you can see shooting stars in the sky. The Italians have dedicated a plate of spaghetti to it, can you believe? (and by the way, sorry if I’m 3 weeks late!) This dish however is not the traditional recipe but it’s my friend Carmelita’s version. She is a siciliana doc and she ensures me that this is what they eat for the notte di san Lorenzo in and around the city where she comes from, which is Catania. One day, a few weeks back, she came round my house and brought a gourmet tin of sardines as a present, complete with detailed instructions on how to make this particular sauce. How could I refuse to try it? The ingredients are very simple: tinned sardines, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and breadcrumbs. But the taste is out of this world. Honest! So this is a really simple, cheap and packed with flavours dish that even one of my University students could manage. You’ll be surprised how good and quick it is…. Continue reading ‘Spaghetti alla notte di san Lorenzo’

Penne all’arrabbiata

penne all'arrabbiata

Can you believe it? I have NEVER in my whole life made or even attempted to make an arrabbiata sauce, which to the non Italians amongst you, means the “angry” sauce. The reason why it’s angry, in case you are wondering, is that it contains loads of chilli, making it quite hot, hence cross! If I’m not mistaken this sauce comes from the Lazio region . I got the inspiration to try it out when I went to Rome, the capital of Lazio, at the beginning of September. Also I had to use some beautiful chilli peppers which had been happily growing on my windowsill, courtesy of my youngest son who is a chilli fanatic and had given me a plant to take care of (I murdered the previous plant he gave me so I had been nurturing this latest one with tender, loving care and it promptly rewarded me with lovely plump red chillies). I understand there are different versions of arrabbiata sauce out there  but the one I made, after loads of searching on the internet, seems to be the kosha one. Continue reading ‘Penne all’arrabbiata’

Penne ai quattro formaggi


penne ai quattro formaggi

This recipe is definitely NOT for those who have to watch their cholesterol levels. In truth I have NO idea what my levels are or whether I have to watch them as I haven’t been tested recently. Should I worry?? Anyway, I reckon a bit of dairy indulgence now and again won’t harm you. I made this dish last week when I invited a group of tutees about to graduate from my University. I promised them an Italian pasta night and promptly made lasagne BUT one of them was vegetarian so I had to think of an alternative. This recipe from Gino D’Acampo (slightly adapted) is a quick and easy dish, suitable for your non meat eater friends. It’s simple, filling and delicious. I will definitely make it again. Continue reading ‘Penne ai quattro formaggi’