Tag Archives: pasta

Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

I’m just about all ‘kaled’ out. We have eaten some amount of kale and spinach in the last six weeks and I am almost happy to see the plants bolt. We will miss them but the new baby salad leaves and rocket are much more exciting.

There’s not much else ready to pick in the garden at this time of the year unless you are lucky enough to have an asparagus patch. We don’t. I tried to grow asparagus some years back but eventually lost patience and pulled it all up. There never seemed to be enough for dinner, just the odd alien popping up here and there but not enough for a bunch.

Luckily there are successful asparagus growers in West Cork and now is the time to grab a bunch before it’s moment of glory passes and there’s another years wait.

This recipe is a kind of vegetable carbonara, a bit of an oxymoran as any self-respecting Italian will tell you that carbonara only has four ingredients – eggs, pancetta, pecorino or parmesan and spaghetti but as with all recipes tweaking can produce great results.

I have used asparagus and locally grown shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are feather light when fresh but become meaty and super tasty when cooked.  Any long wiggly pasta will work for this recipe. If you get your timing right this dish can be cooked in the time that it takes to cook your pasta

 

Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

Serves 2

 

1 small onion

7-8 stems asparagus

100g shiitake mushrooms

50g butter

50mls olive oil

2egg yolks

4tbs cream

50g grated parmesan or pecorino

250g tagliatelle/spaghetti/linguine

salt and cracked black pepper

 

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil, ready to cook the pasta

Peel and finely chop the onion

Snap the tough end from the asparagus and discard or put aside to make soup. Chop the rest of the asparagus in 3-4cm pieces

Slice the shiitake mushrooms.

In a small bowl mix the egg yolks, cream and grated cheese.

The vegetables are going to take roughly eight minutes to cook so now is the moment to decide when to add your pasta to the boiling water. Read the packet, add a large spoonful of salt to the water and cook the pasta according to the instructions – the vegetables can spend a minute or two resting whilst the pasta finishes cooking if needed

Heat a large frying pan or skillet and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and cook for three to four minutes stirring every now and again. Season with salt and cracked black pepper and put aside. Next melt the butter in the pan and add chopped onion and the shiitake , mushrooms, cook on a high heat for three or four minutes, season with salt and cracked black pepper then put the asparagus back in.

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Take the pan off the heat.

Before draining the pasta reserve a few spoonfuls of the cooking water.

Drain the pasta, add to the vegetables and the egg mix then toss together adding some of the reserved water to get a creamy dressing.

Eat immediately


Kale ‘n Pasta

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The longer days mean the green things are kicking back into action in the garden. I even found enough nettles last week to make a soup – admittedly I had to search – which is a funny thing to do with nettles as come another month and we’ll be tripping over the bloomin things.
Nettles apart, some green things soldier on through the winter here. The kale, spinach and chard have managed to quietly survive the colder months and now that there is more daylight the growth is taking off and we are out picking leaves again.

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We put kale in soups, salad and stir-fries, it’s a very versatile, it’s also one of those ‘feel good’ vegetables, so wonderfully green that you know it’s good for your nutrition

My new favourite way to eat kale is with some pasta. My pasta cooking skills have come along way since I left home. It was one of the first things that I cooked = Spaghetti buried in vegetables and sauce. The first time I went to Italy I thought they were very mean with the sauce and even meaner with the Parmesan cheese. I’ve since learnt to dress the pasta and use one or two key ingredients rather than everything that’s in the vegetable basket.

I have used orecchiette, which look like little ears and scoop up the sauce beautifully but you could use other pasta shapes.
Try to co-ordinate cooking the pasta with making the sauce.
Put a big saucepan of water to boil, blanch the kale and then use the same water to cook the pasta, just add more salt. The pasta cooking time varies from brand to brand and also from shape to shape so check your packet for cooking times.
The fried breadcrumbs are known as ‘pangratto’, which translates as breadcrumbs but it’s also known as Poor Mans Parmesan. They are easy to make and give an interesting flavour and texture to the dish.

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Orecchiette with Kale, Chilli and Garlic

500g kale, stems removed
3 cloves garlic
6 anchovies from a can
1 tap fennel seed
1tsp chilli flakes
2 slices old bread
200mls olive oil
25g butter
500g orecchiette
150g grated Parmesan to serve

Put a large pot of water to boil. When it’s boiling add 1tsp salt and the kale. Submerge the kale with the back of a spoon and when the water returns to the boil drain the kale and refresh under a cold tap.
Squeeze any excess water from the kale and slice into thin ribbons. Season with a little salt and put aside.
Remove the crusts from the slice of bread and buzz to crumbs in a food processor.
Heat a frying pan, add 25g butter and 25mls olive oil, when the oil and butter bubble up throw in the breadcrumbs and toss well. Cook the breadcrumbs on a medium high heat until golden and crispy. Put aside.
Peel the garlic and slice thinly, chop once or twice and put aside.
Bring the large pot of water back to the boil. Add 1dsp salt and the orecchiette. Give them a good stir.
Heat the frying pan, add 50mls olive oil and the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes then stir in the anchovies. Stir the pan until the anchovies break down then stir in the shredded kale. Cook gently until the kale is heated through.
Strain the pasta into a colander. Tip the pasta into a bowl and then stir the kale through.
Drizzle over a little extra olive oil and sprinkle the crispy breadcrumbs over the top.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
Enjoy!


Our Epic Feast

I’ve only just recovered enough from our Xmas dinner to talk about it.

Family consensus was to have an untraditional dinner this year. Not everyone was enthralled with the prospect of changing the big bird feast and there was quite some discussion. An idea was thrown in to cook a course each which sounded exciting to me. Kind of Italian style with a few antipasti, maybe a pasta, a little fish and duck for the slightly miffed annual big bird eaters who were grumbling that we could eat Italian everyday. The courses were delegated and we agreed to be prepped and ready to go for six o clock.

There was a little confusion on this point but it all landed on the table in a delicious  succession .

Here’s what we ate

Herby garden salad with toasted seeds and honeyed goats cheese

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Istanbul mussels , stuffed with rice and dill

 

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Braised fennel with tomato, capers, olives and lemon ricotta

 

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Tagliatelle with wild mushrooms

 

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Fatty prawns with borlotti beans and roasted cherry tomatoes

 

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Roasted Brussel sprout risotto

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And for the big bird eaters

A Salad of duck confit and raspberry vinegar

 

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Which must have been totally delicious because even after all the previous course the plates were scraped clean

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It didn’t stop there. We had xmas pud with lashings of cream, slices of buche de noel which i couldn’t quite manage and Irish or French coffee to wash it all down.

Quite the feast.

I did wake up at five o’clock in the morning feeling like a beached whale but apart from that I’d highly recommend this method of feasting.

The dirty dishes were fairly epic and of course as we had all cooked there was no designated dishwasher but somehow we muddled through

Funnily enough the desserts were traditional. I don’t know what happened there but I was very happy to have the Xmas pudding. Delicious. I’m not quite sure how I squeezed it in.

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Sunday Evening Pasta Fest

This is one of our favourite lazy dinners and it’s the perfect home for our past the sell by date buffalo mozzarella which we bring home from the shop. It’s a kind of an owning  a food shop perk – eating all the food that’s past the sell by date. Past the sell by date is of course a different thing from being out of date  which could be dodgy. We marinated the mozzarella in olive oil with the very last of this years basil crop. It felt good to be eating our own basil in December.It’s quite amazing that it survived last weeks frosts.

It takes very little time and effort to prepare this dish and doesn’t require any fancy equipment. A large saucepan to cook the linguine and small saucepan for the sauce and you’re away.

The sauce is very simple to make, just olive oil, garlic, a few chilli flakes, anchovies and canned tomatoes. Don’t be put off trying this recipe by the mention of the anchovies as this isn’t a fishy dish.. In this instance the anchovies are acting as a flavour enhancer and once cooked in the sauce add an extra dimension – other than that they disappear completely

Here’s the recipe. It serves 4-5 people

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Linguine with Tomato and Mozzarella and Basil

2-3  fatty cloves of garlic

1-2 red chillies

50ml olive oil – about  2 overflowing tablespoons, plus a little for the mozzarella

5-6 anchovy fillets

2 balls of fresh mozzarella

2 cans tomatoes, chopped

500g linguine

A bunch of basil

Salt and black pepper

Peel and chop the garlic and chop the chilli.

Put a pan on the heat and add the olive oil, garlic and chilli. Don’t allow the oil to get too hot as garlic burns easily and will spoil the sauce.

Cook gently for a minute or so and then stir in the anchovies.

Mash the anchovies up with a wooden spoon then add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.

Bring the tomato sauce to the boil then turn down and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes. The oil will eventually come to the surface, which means the sauce is ready

Dice the buffalo mozzarella and chop the basil and put them into a bowl. Season with salt, black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Mix together gently and leave aside for the flavours to infuse.

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add plenty of salt and cook the linguineaccording to the directions on the packet. Watch the clock!

Drain the linguine after the specified time and put it into a warm bowl. Pour the tomato sauce over and then scatter  the mozzarella on top.

Yum!