Tag Archive for Pasta

Pasta with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola and endive

An autumnal pasta dish.


Pasta with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola and endive (serves 2)
Inspired by a recipe in Allerhande

200 g spaghetti
200 g wild mushrooms, cleaned, sliced if large
knob of butter
salt and pepper
150 g gorgonzola, in cubes
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

3-4 heads of endive
splash of lemon juice

Prepare the endives. Remove outer leafs, cut in half, cut out the hard/bitter heart.
Cook pasta according to the instructions on the packet/by your preferences.
Place the endive in a large pan on medium heat, turn occasionally and leave to cook until soft and slightly caramelized. Season with salt and a splash of lemon juice.
Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in a frying pan in a knob of butter, until golden and cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with the pasta, parsley and gorgonzola. Serve with the endives.

To make this dish truly vegetarian, use a blue cheese that is suitable for vegetarians.

Spaghetti all’amatriciana

I’m a bit on a pasta-spree, so here is another delicious and simple pasta recipe.

Spaghetti All'Amatriciana

Spaghetti all’amatriciana (serves 2)
From nrc.next koken

2 tbsp olive oil
75 g pancetta, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 can peeled tomatoes
200 g spaghetti
some flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and fry until it releases its fat and turns golden. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, fry all stirring for another minute. Turn up the heat, add the tomatoes and mash them with a fork. Leave to bubble for a bit, then turn down the heat. Leave to bubble gently while cooking the pasta.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, or by your own preferred method.
Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. Add the parsley and cook for another 20 seconds. Check for seasoning. Serve with the parmesan and a grater on the table.

Pasta Caprese

Another salad turned into a pasta meal. I used casarecce as pasta (a kind of stretched out wokkel), but you can choose a different shape if you can’t find these.

Pasta Caprese

Pasta Caprese (serves 2)

200 g pasta
olive oil
25 g pine nuts
some basil leafs
250 g cherry tomatoes
1 ball buffalo mozzarella
75 g rucola

Cook the pasta in a large pan of generously salted boiling water until cooked to your liking.
Roast the pine nuts. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Slice (or tear) the buffalo mozzarella in cubes.
Mix the pasta with some olive oil. Add the rucola and cherry tomatoes and divide over plates. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, torn up basil leafs and mozzarella. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Note: to make this dish truly vegetarian, make sure you choose a mozzarella that is suitable for vegetarians.

Spaghetti with blue cheese, spinach and walnuts

Blue cheese, spinach and walnuts are a great combo. They are often served as a salad, but I decided to mix them wit spaghetti for a lovely, complete meal.

Spaghetti with blue cheese, spinach and walnuts (serves 2)

200 g spaghetti
100 g roquefort
300 g spinach, washed
50 g walnuts
olive oil

Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of generously salted boiling water until it is cooked to your liking.
Crumble the roquefort. Roast the walnuts, and crumble.
Heat a large pan, add the spinach and let it wilt. If necessary, do this in portions. I like it best when the spinach is just wilted, some people prefer to cook it a bit longer.
Mix the cooked spaghetti with a splash of olive oil. Then mix the spaghetti with the other ingredients. Keep some roquefort and walnuts to sprinkle on top for a nice presentation.

Note: roquefort is usually not vegetarian, so to make this dish truly vegetarian, substitute it for a blue cheese that is suitable for vegetarians.

Spaghetti with caramelized onions and crispy breadcrumbs

Usually onions are added to a dish to give it an extra layer of flavour, which is quite logical because they contain loads of umami. But they are also delicious as the main veggie of the dish, and as an added bonus they are really healthy and cheap too. The onions in this dish are sweet, savoury and soft; the crispy breadcrumbs give a nice, crunchy texture. The original recipe uses fusili, but I used spaghetti, because I use spaghetti for almost all pasta dishes. The original recipe also suggest to serve the dish with a white cabbage and carrot salad; I didn’t, but a fresh salad would combine well with the pasta.

Cooking onions can be tricky, they can stay quite hard even after cooking for a long time. To prevent this, I have a few tricks. I slice my onions thinly or in small cubes, because thicker slices and larger cubes tend to stay hard more often. I always use a generous amount of fat (oil or butter) and a generous pinch of salt to fry them in, separately from the other ingredients. Only after softening them I add other ingredients or add the onions to other ingredients, even when the whole thing will cook much longer. And I always start on high heat while stirring to soften the onions, and then turn down the heat to cook and caramelize them further.

Spaghetti with caramelized onions and crispy breadcrumbs (serves 4)
Adapted from Volkskeuken

2 old whole-grain slices of bread
8 tbsp olive oil
600 g peeled onions, sliced thinly in half moons
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely (I prefer the dish without garlic, I find the garliccy flavour too overwhelming)
1 tbsp dried thyme (I prefer to use fresh from my garden)
1 tsp sugar
Optional: 50 ml white wine
400 g pasta
120 g grated cheese (something with oomph, like a medium aged farmhouse gouda)
a bunch of chives, sliced
salt and pepper

Crumble the bread. Mix with 2 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté in a skillet on medium heat until crisp. Spread out on a plate and set aside to cool.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, sugar and a generous pinch of salt and cook on low heat until soft and caramelized (about 20 minutes). Stir regularly. If using, add the wine at the end and cook for a few minutes on high heat to reduce.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid. Mix the pasta with the onions, and then with the cheese and chives. Add a little of the cooking liquid to make it unctuous. Season with salt and pepper, scoop into plates and sprinkle with the crispy breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

Note: to make this dish truly vegan, make sure you use egg-free pasta, egg/dairy-free bread and a vegan-suitable cheese substitute. You could also omit the cheese, the dish will still be delicious.

Spaghetti with herbed cream cheese, spinach and bacon

A very simple, but satisfying pasta dish. Make this when you are in a hurry and need something comforting to eat. Also a classic for students on tight budgets. It is usually made with freezer spinach, but I like to use fresh spinach because freezer spinach is horribly overcooked and mushy. You could use chicken instead of bacon to make the dish a bit lighter.

Spaghetti with herbed cream cheese, spinach and bacon (serves 2)

200 g spaghetti
150 g bacon, cut into lardons
150 g herbed cream cheese (like boursin or philadelphia)
300 g spinach, washed

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add salt liberally. Add the spaghetti and bring the water back to the boil. Stir after 1-2 minutes to make sure the spaghetti isn’t sticking. Cook until your preferred done-ness (the times on the package are an indication, but tend to be a bit on the long side).
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a dry pan on medium heat until it releases its fat, and the bits are golden and slightly crisp. Discard (some of) the bacon fat if you want (keep it to fry an egg or some bread in). Add the cheese and let it melt on low heat. It might curdle a bit. Then add the spinach (in portions if necessary), place a lid on the pan and cook until just wilted. Add the spinach and mix well. Serve immediately.

Simple pasta

On some days you just don’t feel like cooking, while still wanting something comfortable and flavoursome to eat. This is the perfect dish for that situation: it is fast and easy to cook and the bold flavours make it a great pick-me-up. Also great as a hangover breakfast/lunch, and for very hot days, when it is too hot to do much cooking involving heat.

Pick-me-up spaghetti (serves 2)

200 g spaghetti
1 can of anchovies on olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic
a sprinkle of chilli flakes
1/2 lemon (both peel and juice)
10 g flat-leaf parsley
Optional: some parmezan

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add salt liberally. Put the spaghetti in and cook until al dente (or to how you prefer your pasta).
Pour the olive oil from the anchovies in a small frying pan. Chop the anchovies and finely chop the garlic. Add to the oil, together with the sprinkle of chilli flakes. Place on very low heat and cook, while stirring regularly, until it starts to sizzle, the anchovies are dissolved in the oil and the garlic doesn’t smell raw any more. Take care not to overheat it/cook it too long, because this will burn the garlic, which will make it bitter and icky. Turn off the heat. Chop the parsley and add it to the mixture, together with the grated lemon peel and the lemon juice.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix well. Finish with a sprinkle of parmezan, if you like. Serve.

Pork and pasta with gorgonzola sauce

I’m a big fan of cheeses. I like most of them, also the blue cheeses that most people find too strong or a bit icky because of the mould. This sauce is a perfect way to introduce those people to blue cheese, because it is a lot mellower than eating the cheese on its own. Do make sure you use a gorgonzola dulce and not a gorgonzola picante, because the dulce variety is quite mild for a blue cheese, while the picante is quite strong and would make the sauce quite strong too. As an Italian cheese, gorgonzola is perfect to use in a sauce for pasta. And gorgonzola and pork work very well together (and is a classic Italian combination as well).

Pasta and pork with gorgonzola sauce

Pork and pasta with gorgonzola sauce (serves 2)

150 g dried spaghetti
2 pork fillets (pork chops without the bone)
salt and pepper
1 glass white wine
100 ml cream
150 g gorgonzola, cubed

Cook the pasta according to the package.
Heat a frying pan on high heat. Add a drop of oil, spread it over the whole surface of the pan. Place the pork fillets in it. Turn every 15 seconds until the outside is golden and the inside is cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat under the pan to medium. Add the white wine and let the alcohol boil of (about 30 seconds), while stirring to dissolve the jummy bits from baking the pork in the wine. Add the cream, bring to the boil again. Then add the gorgonzola cubes while stirring. Cook until the cheese is molten and it forms a sauce, then take it from the heat (by cooking it longer you risk splitting it).
Place a pile of spaghetti on a plate, place the pork on top and scoop the sauce over it. Serve immediately.

Pasta Pesto

For me, this is THE absolute summer dish. Why? Because I can only grow basil in summer. Nowadays there are only a few products that are truly seasonal (as in: you can only get hold of them in a certain season), most of the things are flown in from other parts of the world or they are grown in hothouses. This is not necessarily a good thing, since it is not very sustainable, but it does mean that when you crave something off-season, you can still buy it.

I never buy basil. Basil is a very vulnerable herb. This means that the cut variant is useless anyway, the taste diminishes just too fast. And the small plants you can buy are useless too, because they are grown much too fast. To get a lot of flavour in basil, it needs a long growth time. That is why I grow my own basil. It is very easy and a lot cheaper than buying the plants every time you need basil. I pour a layer of potting earth into an empty, washed yoghurt container, wet it well, sprinkle a layer of basil seeds on top and cover it lightly with a little more soil. I place the transparent lid of the yoghurt container on top to create a mini-hothouse and place it on a sunny spot. I make sure that it stays wet and I remove the lid when the plants start to emerge. Just keep watering the plant regularly until it is big enough to use (this takes about 6 weeks). I use the whole plant in one or two days, because the climate over here is not good for basil, so once I start picking, the plant dies anyway. That is why I try to sow some new basil every two weeks for a steady supply.

For me, pesto is one of the best ways to use basil. It is a very clean tasting dish in which all the ingredients shine. I think pesto should be made in a mortar and pestle, because making it in a food processor will give a different, less nice texture. Most Italian recipes advice to use an equal amount of two cheeses: parmezan and pecorino, but I like to use the grana padano from our local cheese monger; use what you like. It always takes a bit playing around, getting to know the amounts of everything you like to get a balanced pesto. This recipe is just a starting point from where you can find out your way of pesto. Just like the Italians, in Italy no two pesto recipes are the same!

Pasta Pesto

Pasta pesto (2 persons)
From ‘De Zilveren Lepel’

25 large leaves fresh basil
50-100 ml good extra virgin olive oil
40 g pine nuts
50 g cheese, grated (grana padano, or a mixture of parmesan and pecorino)
a small clove of garlic, peeled (optional, some people don’t like garlic in their pesto)

extra cheese to serve
200 gram spaghetti, cooked following instructions of the package
optional: grilled courgette or asparagus

Roast the pine nuts (this is not authentic, but I like how it brings out the flavour). Crush the garlic together with a little salt in a pestle and mortar. Add the roasted pine nuts, crush. Add the basil, crush into a fine paste. Add the olive oil, just enough to make a thick paste (some people like their pesto with a lot more oil). Stir the grated cheese trough and check if everything is in balance. Serve immediately with pasta, some extra cheese and vegetables.

Three course diner: ravioli, risotto and floating islands

A delicious three course diner cooked for guests consisting of:
Ravioli filled with ricotta, pine nuts and parmesan in browned butter
Risotto with mascarpone and parmesan; grilled green asparagus and parma ham; lollo biondo and cherry tomatoes with balsamic dressing
Floating islands
All for 4-6 persons

Ravioli filled with ricotta, pine nuts and parmesan in browned butter
You can find my ravioli recipe over here.
For the filling roast 25 grams of pine nuts, mix with 200 gram ricotta, a few tablespoons of grated parmesan and a grinding of black pepper. You will probably have a bit left (it is always difficult to estimate the amount of filling that goes into ravioli) but it is delicious the next day combined with some courgette. Shape the ravioli any way you like, I made small squares. Cook them in boiling water, then toss in a hot frying pan with butter, to toast them slightly. I served them very simple on a plate with a drizzle of the butter. If you want to make this dish in advance, place the formed ravioli on a plate and cover with cling film. Set aside at a cool place until ready to cook.

Risotto with mascarpone and parmesan
You can read about making risotto here, here and here. Make risotto with 300 g arborio and 1 liter stock (homemade vegetable or chicken stock is best, but you can also use store bought stock of good quality (which I did this time)). Finish the risotto with a few tablespoons of mascarpone, a generous amount of grated parmesan and a grinding of pepper. Taste to check the seasoning, add salt and/or pepper if necessary. Serve with the grilled green asparagus and parma ham on the side. If you want to prepare this dish in advanced, cook it until the finishing step; when ready to serve heat the risotto on low heat and finish.

Grilled green asparagus and parma ham
Cut a few cm from the bottom of the asparagus (fresh and/or thin ones only need a small bit of the storkremoved, be with larger and/or older ones a bit more generous with what you cut off). Peel the asparagus; some people suggest that this is not necessary with green asparagus, but I find that they need to be very small and thin to not need peeling… no one likes to have a mouth full of fiberous stringy bits. Boil them for a few minutes, then grill for a minute in a very hot pan. This gives the asparagus a nice, sweet and slightly charry finish. Meanwhile fold the ham into rosettes (use any raw ham you like/have available, I used parma). Place the asparagus on the plate next to the risotto, garnish with the ham rosettes and a few shavings of parmesan cheese (use a potato peeler for this). If you want to prepare this dish in advance, peel the asparagus and store them in cold water. You can also already make the ham rosettes and parmesan shavings.

Lollo biondo and cherry tomatoes with balsamic dressing
Very simple. Wash the lettuce, tear in pieces, halve the cherry tomatoes (you can do these things in advance). When ready for serving, mix the lettuce and tomatoes, sprinkle with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Mix well and serve immediately.

Floating islands
I had some trouble with this recipe, because the instructions were not perfect and the ratio of ingredients is slightly off. The amount of custard is perfect for a rich dessert for 4-6 persons, but you have a lot more meringue than necessary. There is also a lot of caramel, I think you could do with halve a recipe. Also, it is important to not have the milk boiling when you poach the meringues, this will give a big mess and it also makes the meringues disgusting. And make sure you don’t place to much meringues in the pan, the recipe suggest that 6 large dollops will fit, but I think 4 medium dollops is really the maximum. Luckily, in the end it all turned out very well and everyone thought the dessert was delicious, so it is certainly worth it to prepare. But keep in mind, it is really rich, so don’t serve it if you already had a large and/or heavy appetizer and main course.

Slightly adapted from Raymond Blanc – Echt Frans koken
For the poaching liqor
1 liter full fat milk
250 ml cream
2 vanilla pods (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

For the meringue
8 egg whites
275 g sugar

For the custard
8 egg yolks
75 g sugar
the milk in which the meringue was poached

For the caramel
3 tbsp water
150 g sugar

Flavour the milk. Pour the milk and cream into a large pan of 30 cm diameter and 7 cm deep and bring to simmering. Slice the vanilla pods lengthwise and scrape the seeds out of them. Add both the seeds and the pods into the milk (you can rinse the pods after simmering and place them in a jar of sugar to create vanilla sugar; or blend them to a paste and use as extract). Or add the real vanilla extract. Leave to simmer 5 minutes.
Make the meringue. Whip the egg whites to slightly foamy, then gradually pour in the sugar while mixing. Keep mixing about 10 minutes (with an electrical hand mixer) until the mixture is shiny and has firm peaks.
Poach the foam. Use a large spoon to scoop 4 medium dollops of the meringue into the lightly simmering milk. Poach 5 minutes, then turn over very carefully (I used a slotted spoon) and poach for another 5 minutes. The milk should be barely simmering, not boiling!!! When ready, use the slotted spoon to place the poached meringues onto a baking tray. Use the remaining meringue for another 4 dollops, or for making dried meringues (dollop on a lined baking tray and bake in an 130C oven until firm).
Making the custard. Sieve the milk and cream used for poaching into a pan. Bring to a simmer. Mix the egg yolks and the sugar in a large bowl. Pour the simmering milk on top of the egg yolk mixture, while mixing. Pour back into the pan. Heat 4-5 minutes on low-medium heat until the custard thickens. Keep mixing the whole time. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour back into the bowl and keep mixing for a while to cool the custard slightly (otherwise it could still split). Leave to cool further, place in the fridge if you like really cold custard.
Making the caramel. Pour the water and sugar into a pan. Place on medium heat until it forms a syrup and then turns to caramel. Don’t stir, and don’t let the caramel get to dark, it will cook slightly further when you take the pan of the heat.
Presentation. Pour the custard in individual serving bowls or in a large bowl. Carefully place the poached meringues (with help of a slotted spoon) on top of the custard. The poached meringues are the islands that float on a sea of custard. Drizzle the meringues with the still hot caramel.
You can make both the poached meringue islands and the custard in advance (up to a day). But making and drizzling the caramel is a last minute job.