Pasta

Penne with Courgettes, Mushrooms & Pine Nuts (Serves 1)

This is a pasta recipe which I have been serving to my family for more years than I care to mention, it’s a ‘home grown’ recipe, one which I developed after being inspired by a pasta I tried in a restaurant. It’s not fancy, but it is one of those easy midweek dishes, which is instantly gratifying. It is a super easy recipe, here I have reduced the ingredients for one serving. Enjoy!

1 small courgette, cut into batons

 1 large flat mushroom (about 100g), sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 tablespoon pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

100g penne pasta

Sea salt and black pepper

1 heaped tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve

  1. In a dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over a medium/high heat for a few minutes until golden. Remove and keep to one side.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan and fry the courgette batons over a medium heat until softened, but retaining some ‘bite’ (al dente). Remove and keep to one side.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, add the garlic slices and fry over a medium heat for about 30 seconds before adding the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices and have softened but are still retaining their shape.
  4. Meanwhile cook the penne pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  5. Finally, return the courgettes to the pan along with the pine nuts, stir to combine and reheat before adding the drained penne pasta. Give everything a good mix and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with a very generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Rigatoni with Sweet Tomatoes, Aubergine & Mozzarella (4 Portions)

This has been one of my family’s favourites for many years, it is a Jamie Oliver recipe from one of his older books, ‘Jamie’s Dinners’, it is his take on the classic Italian dish of ‘Pasta alla Norma’. The wonderful combination of aubergines and tomatoes is enriched by the addition of mozzarella, as the cheese melts it becomes deliciously ‘stringy’! I prefer if without the addition of the dried chilli flakes, but if you like a bit of heat you could add some.

This recipe will make 4 portions, you can freeze the portions but do not add the cream or mozzarella to the portions that you are going to freeze – see notes in recipe. Freeze in individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. Then pour the defrosted sauce into a small pan and for each individual portion add 1 tablespoon of cream and 50g of torn mozzarella. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta.

1 large aubergine (or 2 small)

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

A bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and stalks sliced

4 tablespoons double cream (do not add if freezing – see note above)

100g rigatoni or penne (400g for 4 portions)

200g mozzarella cheese (do not add if freezing – see note above)

½ teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional – see note above)

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

  1. Remove both ends of the aubergines and slice into 1cm slices then slice these across to form 1 cm cubes.
  2. In a large frying/sauté pan heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil. When it’s hot, add the aubergine cubes and stir them around so that they are lightly coated in the oil. Cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat until softened.
  3. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a few more minutes. When they have a little colour, add the tinned tomatoes, the balsamic vinegar and the sliced basil stalks (if you want to add some heat you could add the chilli flakes at this point). Simmer gently for 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  4. If you are freezing in portions, do so now before adding the cream or mozzarella.
  5. To serve one portion: cook 100g pasta according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. Meanwhile stir 1 tablespoon of cream into the sauce, then add the drained pasta. Tear up 50g of mozzarella and a few fresh basil leaves, and stir them through the pasta and sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.
  6. To serve straightaway, without freezing: Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. Meanwhile stir the cream into the sauce. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the sauce. Tear up the mozzarella and fresh basil leaves, and stir them through the pasta and sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

Pasta alla Puttanesca (Serves 2)

There are various versions of this pasta sauce, but I particularly like this one from Gennaro Contaldo; it is a lovely thick sauce with just the right amount salt from the anchovies. It will give you two servings, if you are only serving for one, keep the other serving in the fridge for up to a few days; I would not freeze it.

4 tablespoons olive oil

2  cloves garlic, peeled, left whole and crushed with the flat blade of a knife

½ small red chilli, finely chopped

3 anchovy fillets

20 black olives, stoned and sliced in half

1 tablespoon capers

140g tinned chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon dried oregano

A handful parsley, chopped

200g linguine or spaghetti (gluten free if required)

Salt to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic, chilli and anchovy fillets. Fry until the anchovies have melted and the garlic is golden brown.
  2. Add the olives and capers, stir-fry for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, oregano and parsley.
  3. Lower the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, stir well so that the pasta absorbs the flavours of the sauce – if you feel that the sauce is too dry add a tablespoon or two of hot pasta water.
  6. Serve immediately.

Amatrice Style Pasta – All’Amatriciana (4 Portions)

This is a great sauce for pasta, traditionally served with bucatini, but also, in my opinion, great with spaghetti, or dare I say it penne (I’m sure some Italians would disagree!). Whatever pasta you choose, I can assure you it will be a very delicious sauce, ready in 15 minutes! Although this recipe traditionally calls for Pecorino cheese you could definitely use Parmesan cheese instead (Pecorino is slightly saltier).

This sauce will give you four portions, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta; a simple, quick dinner is served!

This recipe is taken from Antonio Carluccio’s cookbook ‘Passion for Pasta’.

3 tablespoons olive oil

150g diced pancetta

1 small onion, chopped

1 small chilli pepper, chopped

450g tomato passata

100g bucatini or spaghetti for one portion (400g for 4 portions)

To serve: freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (see note above)

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, fry the pancetta, the onion and chilli for 3-4 minutes until slightly brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  3. At this point you should separate the sauce into portions if you are freezing it or storing it in the fridge.
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce (1 portion per 100g pasta).
  6. Serve sprinkled with the grated cheese.

Spaghetti with Anchovy & Tuna (Serves 1)

This recipe is one that I found in a the book ‘Cook, a Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, it has recipes from many renowned chefs including this one from the Michelin starred chef Giorgio Locatelli. Don’t be put off by the fact that he is a professional cook – this recipe is very easy!

The white wine may seem extravagant but you can use the small 18.7cl bottles which are around £1.75 to £2 from your supermarket and you’ll have a small glass left to have with your meal!

*Tip  – You won’t use all the anchovies but they can be used to make a delicious butter which you can keep in your freezer to be sliced to have with jacket potatoes or simply spread on toast, or for a real treat with a lamb chop or minute steak! – See recipe here. Alternatively just place an anchovy on a slice of buttered toast for instant ‘salt gratification’!

100g spaghetti (gluten free if required)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic,  cut into quarters

2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained

125g canned tuna in olive oil, drained

25ml white wine

25g capers, rinsed and drained

1 tomato, diced

To Serve:

5 basil leaves (optional)

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and fry over a gentle heat for about 3 minutes, then add the anchovies and cook until they have melted into the oil.
  2. Increase the heat and add the tuna, stir for a few minutes, then add the white wine, let it bubble for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate.
  3. Stir in the capers and tomatoes.
  4. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, mixing in the basil leaves (if using) and extra virgin olive oil, season to taste. If the pasta seems a little dry add a little of the reserved cooking water.
  6. Serve – how simple is that!

‘Everyday’ Bolognese Sauce with Spaghetti (4-6 Portions)

This is  a great Bolognese Sauce, very tasty and easy to cook with homely, satisfying flavours. It can be cooked on top of the stove or in the oven, either way you should cover it with a lid or a sheet of foil. It is from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Happy Days with the Naked Chef’ (one of his original cookbooks – he looks incredibly young in the photos!), I have slightly tweaked it over the years. I serve it with spaghetti but you could serve it with other pasta shapes. The red wine in this sauce does make it richer however you could choose to omit it, depending on how your student budgeting is going(!), likewise the basil could be omitted. I would definitely use the balsamic vinegar as it really sweetens the sauce, this vinegar will keep in your cupboard for a very long time and is is great for making a quick salad dressing (1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, whisked together with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste).

This sauce will give you four- six portions, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta; a simple, quick dinner is served!

Watch the video of this sauce being made here!

150g cubed pancetta

Small bunch of basil, leaves picked, and stalks chopped (optional)

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

450g minced beef

1 wineglass red wine (optional – see note above)

1 level teaspoon dried oregano

400g tin of tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

200g tomato purée

100g spaghetti for 1 portion (400g for 4 portions)

Sea salt and black pepper

Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve

  1. In a large pan/ casserole dish that can go in the oven, fry the pancetta in a little olive oil until lightly golden.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and, if using, chopped basil stalks (not the leaves), and fry for a further 3 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add the minced beef, continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding the wine (if using) and reduce slightly.
  4. Add the oregano, both the tinned tomatoes and tomato purée, and the balsamic vinegar. Season well.
  5. Now cover with a lid (or with foil), and either place in a preheated oven, 180’c or cook on top of the stove over a very low heat – you want it to barely simmer. Cook for an hour and a half.
  6. Once cooked separate into portions if  freezing (see note above)
  7. Cook your portion of spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. Stir the sauce through the pasta, and serve with the torn basil leaves (if using) sprinkled over and some grated parmesan cheese.

Penne with Creamy Tomato, Bacon and Pea Sauce (4 portions)

A very easy pasta sauce, you could almost make it with your eyes closed – it’s that easy! Mascarpone cheese is an Italian cream cheese, it is not ‘cheesy’ tasting, it makes this sauce deliciously creamy! You could substitute it for cream cheese for a cheaper option, the flavour will be slightly different, but it will still very good.

This sauce will give you four portions, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta; a simple, quick dinner is served!

50g butter

150g smoked back bacon, cut into strips

450g tomato passata

200g frozen peas

8 basil leaves (optional)

150g mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese – see note above)

100g  penne pasta for one portion (400g penne for 4)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the bacon strips, cook until beginning to crisp.
  2. Add the tomato passata and the peas, cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the penne (100g for one portion) according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente (i.e. still has a little ‘bite’ to it).
  4. Add the mascarpone cheese and the basil leaves (if using) to the sauce, stir until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. At this point you should separate the sauce into portions if you are freezing it or storing it in the fridge.
  6. Drain the penne.
  7. Serve the sauce (1 portion per 100g penne) mixed through the pasta and sprinkle with lots of parmesan cheese.

*To see the video of this dish being made go to my Instagram Page!

*Tip – A Sweet Treat!…left over mascarpone cheese is delicious whipped up with a little sugar, preferably icing sugar but you can get away with caster sugar (you could also add a drop of vanilla essence if you have any), and serve it with fruit – Yum!

Penne Pasta with Sausage (4 portions)

This is a really easy pasta to make and very tasty, it is worth investing in the spices – ground cloves and nutmeg, they will keep in your cupboard for a very long time and I am sure that you will make this recipe time and time again. This recipe will make four portions, depending on how hungry you are, it will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bag– you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (make sure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta – simple!

The white wine may seem extravagant but you can use the small 18.7cl bottles which are around £1.75 to £2 from your supermarket.

*To watch the video of this sauce being made click here!

400g penne pasta (100g per portion)

75g butter

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

300g pork sausage meat, removed from casings and broken up

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

150ml dry white wine

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter and gently fry the onion and garlic.
  2. Add the sausage meat, continuing to break it up, mixing it in with the onion and garlic. Fry gently until well browned.
  3. Add the wine and rosemary, reduce heat and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the nutmeg, cloves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. At this point you should separate the sauce into portions if you are freezing it or storing it in the fridge.
  6. Meanwhile cook the penne (100g for 1 portion) according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente (i.e. still has a little ‘bite’ to it).
  7. Mix the sausage mixture with the penne and serve with lots of parmesan sprinkled over.