Tagliatelle in tartare sauce

I was having Italian lessons up until a few weeks ago but with my company conference and having COVID I missed booking the most current course. It’s probably for the best as there was an older woman in the class who was a few steps behind everyone else and I wasn’t getting anything done in the breakout rooms when we were paired up. Also there was an Eastern European guy who kept pronouncing my name Gemma with a hard ‘g’ which was pretty annoying, especially given that my name is Italian. I have my Italian book for dummies and am doing a bit of duolingo to try and keep up until the next course in September. I found this pasta recipe in ‘Gino’s Pasta’ and it was not like anything I’d seen before so I was interested to try with the tartar. Maybe Gino created it after going to Norie’s fish and chip shop in Oban. We got some scampi and it did come with tartar sauce.

Anyway I did like the recipe and it’s very quick, particularly if you’re lazy like me and use pre-made fresh pasta.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 30g pickled onions
  • 30g pickled gherkins (or cornichons)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 15g butter
  • 75ml double cream
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 200g fresh tagliatelle
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 30g parmesan

Method

1.) Get the pasta ready to cook in a large saucepan. Boil some water.

2.) Grate the parmesan and dice the parsley finely and set aside. Chop up the onions and gherkins. Melt some butter in a large frying pan and add them along with the capers.

3.) Fry for 2 minutes then pour in the cream and spoon in the mustard and mix. Cook for 3 minutes and whilst this is cooking put the pasta onto boil.

4.) Add the yolk and sprinkle in the parsley and parmesan and stir. Cook for a further 15 seconds. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce.

Lentil Bolognese

For me, a classic Italian pasta with Ragu is a big comfort meal. Lentils provide all of the protein in the meal you lack from the minced beef/pork and have just a little bit of chew to mix up the texture. This recipe was from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. I take Italian lessons each week and I’ve learnt that when we ask for a panini it doesn’t make sense as panini is the plural form of sandwich – if you have Italian servers you want to impress, ask for a panino. Learning Italian, it was very difficult going on holiday recently to Spain. The basic phrases you need in both languages are very similar, so I was constantly muddling up the two! Bilbao was beautiful though and I fully recommend a trip and a taste of all their delicious pinxtos (bar snacks).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tin lentils (400g)
  • 10g fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 100ml water
  • 320g pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g hard cheese
  • 10g parsley

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the garlic and the onions. Strip the leaves from the thyme. Bash the walnuts in a pestle and mortar.

2.) Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.

3.) Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

4.) Add the tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, walnuts, lentils, red wine, chilli, oregano, thyme, marmite and water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes to thicken.

5.) Whilst this is cooking, grate the cheese, Chop up the parsley and cook the pasta. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta with some sauce, sprinkle over the cheese and parsley.

Greens Mac ‘N’ Cheese

I continue with my quest to try all of the recipes in the Jamie Oliver ‘Veg’ cookbook with this greens mac ‘n’ cheese. I guess it’s one of those recipes you give to kids where you hide the veggies by putting them with some cheese and pasta. My beautiful cat Earl Grey has developed arthritis so we have to hide his medication by soaking his favourite treat with it to get him to eat it. He’s not a super old cat but he has some inbred pedigree Russian blue genes which is fairly ironic being that we adopted him from a litter of kittens belonging to a stray cat that our friend found. We’re also trying to reduce his weight to help the cause which is unfortunately not working as he seems to be as good at dieting as I am.

I changed things up a bit with this recipe by using some Vivera fake bacon strips rather than the almonds in the recipe. I think it would be great if you can find those smoked almonds they seem to love in Spain.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 leek
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 400g broccoli
  • 40g butter
  • 15g fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 litre milk
  • 450g macaroni pasta
  • 30g parmesan cheese
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese
  • 100g baby spinach
  • a handful of veggie bacon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2.) Slice up the leek and the broccoli stalks, leaving the florets to one side. Heat the butter in a casserole dish and add the veg to the pan. Strip in the thyme leaves and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.

3.) In the meantime, peel and finely dice the garlic and grate the cheese.

4.) For the last couple of minutes of cooking time, add the garlic to the pan.

5.) Add the milk to the dish and sprinkle over the flour and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.

6.) Whilst this is simmering, cook the pasta in another large pan for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the cheese to the milk sauce then blitz this in a blender.

8.) Pour back into the casserole dish and stir in the broccoli florets and the partly cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

9.) Sprinkle over some veggie bacon and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Roasted Tomato Pasta

I guess I must have been a bit overexcited about my upcoming holiday in Rome to choose to make this. Roasting the tomatoes really brings out their flavour – even if the tomatoes aren’t the best. I paired it up with some anchovies and balsamic vinegar to make it taste even better.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 15g basil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300g pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic

Method

1.) Preheat the grill. Line a baking tray with paper and place on the tomatoes less the stalks.

2.) Roast for about 15 minutes, until starting to char all over.

3.) Boil the pasta in a pan of water until cooked.

4.) In the meantime, peel the garlic cloves and dice.

5.) Heat a frying pan and add the tin of anchovies with the oil. Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and heat in the pan, Use a spatula to break up the tomatoes a bit into a sauce. Cook down for a few minutes until the tomatoes are completely broken down.

6.) In the meantime, chop up the basil, throw the stalks in with the tomatoes.

7.) Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the balsamic vinegar, stir so the sauce coats all the pasta. Sprinkle over the basil and serve.

Lemon & Caper Cauliflower Orzo

My husband was asking for something with roasted cauliflower and I came across this charred cauliflower and orzo dish on BBC Good Food. I’m not sure how authentically Italian it is. I was just in Rome and I saw all the classics – Spaghetti alle Vongole, Lasagne, Carbonara, Rome’s version of Arancini (suppli) and more focaccia and mozzarella than you can shake a stick at but nothing with cauliflower and orzo. Nonetheless it’s still molto buono as they say in Italy. Rome is a beautiful, richly historic city and I’m now watching Suburra on Netflix which is an engrossing Italian crime drama set in Rome allowing me to relive all the sites.

Serves 3 (I doubled the recipe which Served 1 with leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g orzo
  • 4 tsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 100g rocket

Method

1.) Heat up the grill

2.) Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Chop up the cauliflower and place over the tray.

3.) Grill for 10 – 15 minutes until charred.

4.) Cook the orzo in a pan of boiling water until soft.

5.) Make up the stock and peel and dice the garlic. Zest the lemon.

6.) Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and capers and fry for a minute.

7.) Drain the orzo and add to the pan, add the cauliflower, the lemon zest, add the lemon juice to the pan and the vegetable stock.

8.) Cook for a couple of minutes then serve up with the rocket sprinkled over.

Minestrone soup

I really love this soup from Jamie Oliver’s website. I first came across it during lockdown when he was doing a show to encourage people to home cook filmed by at home by himself and his family. This recipe uses tinned beans, passata and pasta, some of the things some crazy people were stocking up on at that time. Some people must have been pretty bored of pasta with tomato sauce, really Jamie was doing a bit of a service for us. It’s a light soup but also quite filling and is a great choice for when you want to cook in bulk.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tins of beans (kidney or butter, whatever you like)
  • 100g dried small pasta e.g. orzo, macaroni
  • 25g parmesan cheese (if you have rinds of parmesan cheese, you can stick them in to simmer with the soup)
  • salt & pepper

Method

1.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and dice the onion.

2.) Heat some oil in a large pan and add the onions. Let them soften for 5 minutes or so.

3.) In the meantime, peel and chop up the carrot. Chop up the celery.

4.) Add the garlic to the pan and fry for 1 minute.

5.) Add the celery and carrot and leave to soften for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Close to the end, fill a kettle with water and boil.

6.) Pour in the beans and their juices, the passata, crumble in the stock cube then fill up one of the tins and pour in the water from that. Measure out 600ml of the boiled water and pour that in too.

7.) Throw in the pasta, tear up the kale leaves and put them in too.

8.) Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

9.) Grate the parmesan.

10.) Stir into the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.