This pasta looks the business doesn’t it? Well it tastes amazing too. In actual fact, it’s super quick and easy to make, and cheap as chips too. All you have to do really is cook the pasta and stir in everything else.
As this is a simple dish you’re relying on the lemon, basil, parmesan and black pepper to give it a bold kick of flavour, so be generous with each of them. Purple basil tastes the exact same as normal basil, so don’t despair if you can’t get your hands on it, this will turn out the exact same with the regular stuff. Whip this up for a fancy looking but super simple supper after work during the week to put a pep in your step!
Ingredients (serves 2):
2tbsp Grated Parmesan
Zest of 2 Lemons
Basil (purple if you can find it!)
Salt & Pepper
Boil the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. I take mine off a minute or two early so that it’s al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water.
Roughly chop your basil and set aside. I use a good bit, about a handful.
Stir in the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Have a taste and adjust with more salt, pepper or cheese if needed. You may need to loosen it out with a little of the cooking water or even some olive oil for a silky finish.
Top with more grated parmesan and black pepper and an artistic sprig of basil! Enjoy.
Another dish inspired my trip to Italy is an easy to make pasta dish that is packed with flavour. I decided to mimic the Italian’s way of using a few key ingredients in each dish, and resisted the urge to keep adding in more ingredients. Italians use artichoke a lot in their cooking, and on the Amalfi coast they put lemons in pretty much everything as every piece of land and even smalls garden seems to have vines of plump lemons growing happily. I decided to marry the two, as I think the salty artichokes cut through the sweet creamy lemon sauce perfectly.
I got the artichoke hearts used for this in The Real Olive Stall at the Temple Bar market (they go to loads of farmers markets all over the country), but other good deli’s should do them, and I believe you can get them tinned and in jars too in supermarkets. This is really quick and easy, but mouthwatering and delicious. If you reserve one or two of the artichoke hearts to serve they look really impressive, like little green roses garnishing the dish. Enjoy and let me know how you get on with the recipe!
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
10 artichoke hearts
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
1 ball fresh mozzerella (I love Toonsbridge Dairy)
salt and pepper
Pasta of your choice
1. Pop the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water with a dash of olive oil. Cook according to packet instructions making sure to take drain when the pasta is al dente… no one likes soggy pasta.
2. Make a roux to form the base of your sauce by adding the butter and flour in a saucepan on a low heat, and stir for two minutes to cook the flour through (this gets rid of any potential flour taste and helps thicken the sauce more efficiently). Whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring all the time to prevent lumps. This is made very quickly, so best to start this half-way through cooking of pasta.
3. Chop up artichoke hearts into quarters, leaving two whole for serving. Add the artichoke (bar the two whole ones) to the sauce with the spinach, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest and stir for a few minutes until heated through. Tear up the mozerella and stir through the pasta before serving.
4. Pour the sauce over your pasta and stir through, serving with the nice pretty artichoke on top and a crack of black pepper.
I’m just back from a week’s holidays in Ravello, Italy for my brother’s wedding and I would be lying if I told you I spent the week doing much else aside from eating good food and drinking wine. Ravello is a beautiful town on the Amalfi coast that is set up in the mountains. As our international family descended (as ascended as the case may be) upon Ravello we were so impressed with the food, and most of my memories of the week are spend around a table together catching up, telling stories, laughing, eating and drinking.
I decided to try as many classic Italian dishes as possible, and a few unusual ones that I hadn’t heard of before too. While most of us grew up eating Spaghetti Bolognese at least once a week, it turns out what we were eating is quite different to the way the Italians make it, and by quite, I mean totally different! I am going to tell you exactly how to make an authentic Italian ragu alla bolognese, and then I am going to contradict myself and proceed to break two of rules.
Never ever ever use tinned tomatoes or passata- the Italians don’t use this at all, they use a few tablespoons of tomato puree, wine and stock.
Ragu should always be served with tagliatelle, not spaghetti. The Italians feel the spaghetti doesn’t hold as much of the sauce as the tagliatelle does (You see I have already broken this rule by using giant pasta shells… In my defense, I had been a typical tourist and bought loads of pasta and thought the shells would scoop up the sauce nicely, which they did.)
No garlic. That’s right, they don’t use garlic in their ragu alla bolognese. They usually only use grated carrot, celery and onion. (I broke this by adding cherry tomatoes, but I wanted to add a bit of colour and sweetness to my dish and thought they were a welcome addition)
The Italians often use a mixture of beef and pork mince or pancetta in their ragu. It gives it a really nice flavour.
Many Italians use a glass of milk in their beef ragu to give the sauce a smoothness and lightness. I learnt that tip from a Mama in Ravello!
Give the sauce time, let it simmer away for at least and hour, but if you have time, 2 hours will turn it into a simmering pot of heaven.
I followed these tips with slight deviation below, and made the best bolognase or ragu that I’ve ever tried to make before! Give it a go and let me know what you think!
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
350 tagliatelle or shells if you’re a rule breaker
100g minced pork
1oog minced beef
1 onion finely minced or chopped
1 celery stick finely minced or chopped
1 carrot finely minced or chopped
1 large handful cherry tomatoes quartered (leave these out if you want to do it fully authentically)
1 glass red wine
1 glass milk
1 cup rich beef stock
4 tbsp tomato puree
Parmesan cheese to serve
1. Gently fry the onion, carrot and celery in a little oil on a low heat until soft. Add the mince and cook, stirring the whole time until browned.
2. When meat is browned, add a glass of red wine and stir until it has all been evaporated. Then stir in the milk, tomato puree, and most of the beef stock (save a 1/4 cup). The milk will make the sauce look really creamy, but after a few minutes of stirring and reducing it will look like a classic ragu.
3. Reduce down the sauce and let your beef and pork ragu simmer away for an hour or so. Add the remaining stock towards the end if needed.
4. Cook your pasta in boiling salted water with a tbsp of olive oil until al dente.
5. Mix the pasta into the pot of sauce and serve with some parmesan cheese.