I do hope you took the challenge last week to make your own fresh pasta, as it really is one of the most pleasurable cooking experiences to be found, but even though its mostly dried pasta that Italians cook and eat most days, once you have your pasta cooked, after that its all about the sauce!
There are literally hundreds of delicious pasta sauces you can try, so it’s time to take a break from the boring Bolognese and broaden your repertoire with a few fresh ideas for the perfect pasta dish. For something a little different, why not try pasta with avocado, basil and lemon sauce?
Just put your spaghetti on to boil, then scoop out the avocado flesh and blend with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and basil until smooth. Toss through the hot pasta and serve with loads of grated Parmesan.
Another favourite of mine is to simply add pesto, tuna, bacon and sweet corn to Fusili pasta spirals and then finish with crumbled feta on top; or chop fresh courgettes into large chunks and fry them slowly in olive oil, butter and garlic until they are soft and almost creamy and then, add ricotta cheese and penne pasta…it’s quick, simple and utterly delicious.
You could also attempt a classic “All’ Arrabbiata” with tomato-chilli sauce or supercharged “Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca” with capers, olives, anchovy, garlic and tinned tomatoes. One of the most popular pasta dishes is off course “Alla carbonara”. As with so many Italian foodstuffs, it has a disputed history, though most people now accept that carbonara probably originated in or around Rome, though even today almost nobody seems to agree on the exact ingredients. All recipes seem to contain a little pancetta or bacon, but some will insist on using eggs and cream, while others only eggs and butter, and there are also those who keep it simple and just use eggs. Whatever your preference, Carbonara may be a simple dish, but the devil is in the detail; personally I prefer a little cream with the eggs and I also add garlic as, strangely enough, most classic Carbonaras don’t seem to include it. To freshen up my carbonara I often add grated courgettes. I think you’ll agree a little garlic and courgettes are the perfect additions. Happy cooking!
I’m using a mixture of Parmesan & pecorino but either one on its own is also fine.
· 160g fettuccini, cooked
· 3 medium courgettes
· 2 garlic cloves crushed
· 200ml cream
· 30g Parmesan, finely grated
· 30g pecorino, finely grated
· 6 free-range egg yolks
· 80g smoked bacon or pancetta, diced
· 2tbsn olive oil
· 30g butter
· Ground white pepper
Coarsely grate the courgettes into a colander and toss with a little sea salt. Leave to drain for 20-30 minutes, and then squeeze out the excess liquid.
Pan-fry the smoked bacon in the olive oil until slightly, crisp and golden. Add the courgettes, butter and garlic, cook for 5-6 minutes over a gentle flame. Add the cooked fettuccini and toss well to coat each strand. Whisk the egg yolks, cream and pecorino and season with white pepper. Add to the warm pasta and mix well over the heat until the sauce thickens and covers the pasta.
Be careful not to let the pan get too hot, the eggs should not overcook and scramble. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.
Garganelli a la Putanesca
· 250g dried garganelli
· 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
· 400g tomatoes, peeled and diced
· 1 tbsp capers
· 20 black olives, pitted
· 8 anchovy filets, chopped
· 2 red chillies, chopped
· 1 tsp oregano, chopped
· 80ml olive oil
· 400g tomatoes, peeled and diced
· 2 tbsp tomato concentrate
· Sea salt and pepper
Heat a pan with olive oil and add the garlic and chilli. When the garlic begins to sizzle add the tomatoes and tomato concentrate and simmer for 4 minutes.
Toss the capers, anchovies, olives and oregano in the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes. Boil the garganelli pasta in salted water for 8 about minutes. Drain and mix the pasta into the sauce. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and serve.