Pasta

(All Recipes have Gluten-Free Options)

Rigatoni with Artichokes and Pancetta (Serves 4)

This is a lovely light pasta dish. I use preserved artichokes, but you could use fresh globe artichokes, just prepare them and cook for 20 minutes in boiling water before using in the sauce.

400g rigatoni (gluten-free if required)

6 tablespoons olive oil

100g diced pancetta

½ onion, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

½ teaspoon chilli flakes

300g artichokes in olive oil, drained and sliced into quarters (or fresh artichokes – see note above)

1 lemon grated and juiced

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Parmesan cheese

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil. Add the pancetta and some salt and fry for 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes. Reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the artichokes and lemon zest and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the pasta until al dente, according to the packet instructions.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, then toss through the lemon juice to taste – you may only need ½ of the lemon. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley, some Parmesan cheese and a good grind of black pepper, and serve!

Baked Buckwheat Pasta with Cheese, Courgettes and Potato (Serves 4)

This is a delicious, quite unusual pasta recipe from one of my favourite cookbook writers, Antonio Carluccio. It is apparently based on a classic recipe from the Valtellina valley in Italy, where they traditionally make it with pizzoccheri, a sort of buckwheat tagliatelle. This is difficult to find in the UK so I substitute it for buckwheat penne. The good thing about buckwheat pasta is that it is naturally gluten-free and healthier than regular pasta. It gives the dish a slightly nutty flavour, however, you could substitute it for regular pasta if you prefer. The original recipe calls for Bitto or Fontina cheese, but, again, these can be difficult to find in the UK, so I use Emmental. The end result is a healthy, very tasty pasta dish!

300g buckwheat penne (see note above)

300g courgettes, trimmed and cubed

300g waxy potatoes (such as Charlotte), peeled and cubed

200g Fontina or Emmental cheese, cut into small cubes

60g unsalted butter

80g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Put the pasta, courgettes and potatoes into a large saucepan full of boiling, salted water, and cook until everything is tender (about 12 minutes).
  2. Drain well then mix the Fontina (or Emmental) cheese, 40g of the butter and 60g of the Parmesan. Put in a suitable ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a pan with the sliced garlic and heat until foaming. Remove the baked pasta from the oven and spoon over the melted garlic butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve straight away.

Pasta with Courgettes, Prawns & Chilli (Serves 4)

This is a recipe from Diana Henry’s cookbook ‘Simple’, so the title of the book tells you straightaway that this is a quick and easy recipe. It is also big on flavour! Henry uses trofie pasta, which looks and tastes wonderful with this sauce, but if you can’t get it or are gluten-free, any other short pasta shape, such as penne or casarecce works well. Make sure you cook the courgettes until they are lovely and golden to create as much flavour as possible. You can either use dill or basil, I prefer dill for this recipe.

300g trofie or any other short pasta shape such as penne, casarecce (gluten-free if required)

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

500g courgettes cut into little cubes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

300g raw king prawns, shelled and deveined

2 good pinches of chilli flakes

8 tablespoons dry white vermouth (or white wine)

1 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons dill fronds (or torn basil leaves)

  1. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and quickly sauté the courgettes until they’re golden all over and quite soft. Add the garlic, prawns, chilli flakes and seasoning, cook for another minute over a fairly high heat tossing the prawns around. Splash in the vermouth and let it bubble away until almost nothing.
  3. Quickly drain the pasta and add to the frying pan along with the lemon juice (to taste) and either the dill or basil. Check the seasoning and add a final glug of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Pork, Beef and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti (Serves 6)

These meatballs are made from a combination of pork and beef, and are held together by the ricotta cheese rather than breadcrumbs, so have a lighter consistency. I have taken the recipe from Mary Heffernan’s cookbook ‘Five Mary’s Ranch Raised’. The tomato sauce is a basic one that I’ve used over the years, it is rich and garlicky. Served with spaghetti they make a crowd-pleasing dish – they should definitely be on your recipe list!…

For the Tomato Sauce:

6-9 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 x 400g tins whole plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

For the Meatballs:

450g minced pork

450g minced beef

250g ricotta cheese

30g grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to serve)

½ onion, finely chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Schwartz)

½ teaspoon ground fennel

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh basil leaves to garnish

Spaghetti to serve (gluten-free if required)

  1. For the tomato sauce, place the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat, lightly brown the garlic with the bay leaves. Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, bring to a simmer, lightly crushing them with the back of a spoon. Simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Put aside whilst you make the meatballs.
  2. To make the meatballs, place the pork, beef, ricotta, Parmesan, onion, egg, Italian seasoning, ground fennel, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently with your hands until combined. Shape into meatballs, you should make about 28, each about 2 inches in diameter.
  3. Lightly oil a baking sheet and space the meatballs evenly on it. Place in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, for 20 minutes, until well browned on one side and cooked through.
  4. Loosen the meatballs from the baking tray into the tomato sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes, gently moving the meatballs around occasionally.
  5. Serve with spaghetti and garnish with the chopped basil and more grated Parmesan.

Creamy Bolognese Sauce with Spaghetti (Serves 4 generously)

There are two Bolognese sauces which I like to cook at home, one of these is what I call ‘Everyday Bolognese Sauce’ (recipe below), which I think is the more traditional, family-style of the two – a good midweek all-rounder. The other recipe is this one for ‘Creamy Bolognese Sauce’, which, with the addition of cream, is richer and more sophisticated. It also makes a great midweek meal but is a little more special! I have been cooking this recipe for over 20 years, it’s from Diane Seed’s cookbook, ‘The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces’ – a great little book if you can still get it!

500g Spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

80g butter

1 onion,

1 carrot

1 stalk celery

100g bacon

50g pork sausage meat

150g pork mince

150g beef mince

180ml white wine

180ml beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato purée

5 tablespoons double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

  1. Finely chop/mince the onion, carrot, celery stalk and bacon, I like to use a food processor to do this.
  2. Heat the oil and 50g of the butter in a deep saucepan, add the minced onion, carrot, celery and bacon, then cook gently for about 10 minutes. Then add the sausage meat, pork and beef mince and the wine. Cook gently for a further 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  3. Add the tomato paste to the stock, stir to dilute and add to the mince mixture. Season with salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Cook gently for 1½ hours.
  4. Finally stir in the cream, when it has been absorbed by the sauce remove from the heat and keep warm.
  5. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the packet instructions.
  6. When you are ready to serve, return the sauce to the heat and stir in the remaining 30g butter. Then stir the sauce through the drained pasta. Serve with the Parmesan cheese on the side.

Gigli with Chickpeas and Za’atar (Serves 4)

This is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s cookbook, ‘Simple’, it is not only a delicious recipe but incredibly easy to cook – a boost to any midweek evening! Despite having a vegetarian base it is made with anchovies and chicken stock so has a very meaty, fulfilling flavour yet still manages to have a clean edge. If you can get hold ‘gigli’ pasta do use these pasta shapes as they do make the dish look particularly cheerful, but of course any other pasta shape such as conchiglie can be substituted and will taste just as good.

45ml olive oil, plus extra to serve

½ onion, finally chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

10g thyme leaves, finely chopped

25g anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (about 7)

Zest of half a lemon, plus 2 tablespoons of juice

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained

1 teaspoon soft brown sugar

400ml chicken stock

200g gigli pasta or conchiglie or orecchiette (gluten-free if required)

50g baby spinach leaves

15g parsley, roughly chopped

1½ teaspoons za’atar

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, anchovies, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the chickpeas and sugar and fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas begin to brown and crisp up. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and simmer for 6 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  4. Stir the spinach and parsley into the chickpeas – the residual heat should cook the spinach but if it doesn’t wilt put the pan back over a gentle heat. Stir the pasta into the chickpea mixture. Divide between four plates and sprinkle the za’atar on top and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Garlic Mushroom Linguine (Serves 4)

There’s not much to this recipe, yet it always pleases, what’s not to like – mushrooms and garlic are a match made in heaven!… I particularly like this recipe with chopped tarragon, but if you can’t get hold of it, chopped parsley also works well.

400g linguine or spaghetti (gluten free if required)

50g butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

500g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced

Juice of ½ lemon

20g fresh tarragon (or parsley), chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic for a minute or so. Add the mushrooms with the lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice until tender. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the drained pasta to the pan with the mushrooms, adding the chopped tarragon (or parsley), toss well and serve with the grated Parmesan.

Penne with Broccoli, Chilli & Pine Nuts (Serves 4)

This is a very satisfying pasta dish with light, fresh flavours and better still, it will be on the table from start to finish in 15 minutes!

*You could cook the broccoli by adding it to the pasta pan towards the end of cooking, but I prefer to cook it separately as in this way you can be sure that it will not be overcooked.

350g penne or other short pasta

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 red chillies, finely chopped

1 broccoli head, about 350g, cut into small florets

50g pine nuts, toasted (in dry frying pan)

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain, reserving about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile cook the broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes until just tender – but still has ‘bite’. Drain.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and chilli and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
  4. Finally, add the drained pasta and broccoli to the pan with the garlic and chilli. Toss to combine adding a little of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen.
  5. Serve sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts.

Asparagus & Crab Linguine with Chilli (Serves 4)

There are many variations of pasta dishes with crab, but this recipe with the addition of asparagus is a firm family favourite, the asparagus complements the crab beautifully without overpowering it. It is a lovely fresh tasting dish which is super quick to make!

400g linguine (or spaghetti)

Large knob of butter

4 tablespoons extra virgin oil

2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

250g asparagus

300g crab meat

4 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

1 lemon, zested and juiced

  1. First of all prepare the asparagus by snapping off and discarding the woody ends, then slice the stalks lengthways.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli, then the asparagus. Cook for about 3 minutes until the asparagus starts to soften.
  4. Add the crabmeat to heat through, then remove from the hob.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain (reserving a little cooking water) and add to the asparagus pan. Place is back on the heat, add the chives, lemon zest and juice and toss well, adding a spoonful of the reserved cooking water to loosen if needed. Season and serve with an extra glug of olive oil.

Courgette ‘Carbonara’ – Pasta all’Ortolanana (Serves 4)

This is a wonderful recipe from Diana Henry’s cookbook, ‘Simple’, it is basically carbonara but the bacon is substituted with courgettes, thus making it a great vegetarian option…and a delicious one at that!…

300-400g spaghetti

400g courgettes

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, very finely sliced

1 garlic clove, very finely sliced

2 eggs, plus 4 egg yolks

100g finely grated Parmesan cheese

50g finely grated Pecorino cheese

Leaves from a small bunch basil, torn

Salt and black pepper

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, top and tail the courgettes and cut the flesh into thin batons. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the courgettes and onions over a medium-high heat until golden and cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs, the yolks and both cheeses, seasoning with lots of black pepper.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving half a cup of cooking water. Pour the reserved pasta water into the courgettes and then add the spaghetti, stir the mixture over the heat for a few moments to allow the water to evaporate and the spaghetti to absorb some of the flavours.
  5. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the egg and cheese mixture, mixing well so that every strand of pasta is covered and the sauce has thickened. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if required. Sprinkle over the torn basil leaves and serve immediately.

Linguine with Asparagus and Prosecco (Serves 4)

This is a wonderfully simple recipe from Skye McAlpine’s cookbook ‘A Table in Venice’. As she herself says, cooking with Prosecco always seems rather extravagant, but the delicacy of Prosecco definitely lends something extra special to the sauce. I also use Prosecco when I cook ‘Spaghetti Vongole’ (recipe here), as it gives the sauce a lightness (from the bubbles) and a subtle sweetness. You could, of course, use white wine instead of Prosecco, but do try it with Prosecco at some point. The mini bottles of Prosecco are perfect for this recipe, or of course you could get a full bottle and enjoy the remainder of the bottle with your meal!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

400g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3 cm lengths

100ml Prosecco

Handful of parsley, chopped

400g linguine (gluten free if required)

30g butter

30g parmesan cheese, grated

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  2. Add the asparagus and Prosecco, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the Prosecco has evaporated and the asparagus is tender (if it is not quite cooked by the time that the liquid has evaporated add a splash of water and cook for a little longer). Finally stir in the parsley.
  4. Meanwhile cook the linguine according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Just before draining the pasta, scoop out about half a cup of cooking water and set to one side.
  5. Drain the pasta, toss it back into the pan and add a good splash of the reserved cooking water to ‘loosen’ it. Little by little stir in the butter. Finally add the asparagus mixture, give everything a good stir and serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

Penne with Courgettes, Mushrooms & Pine Nuts (Serves 4)

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.

400g courgette, cut into batons

400g portobellini mushrooms (or large flat mushrooms), sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

4 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

400g penne pasta

Sea salt and black pepper

4 heaped tablespoons 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 2 tablespoons 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 (Serves 4)

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.

To watch the video of this recipe being cooked click here!

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

455g rigatoni or penne

200g mozzarella cheese

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, then stir in the cream.
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the aubergine and tomato sauce. Tear up the mozzarella and fresh basil leaves, and stir them through the pasta and sauce – the mozzarella will start to melt, becoming beautifully stringy (it can be a little messy to serve!). Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sauce (Serves 4)

Just when I thought I had exhausted all the pasta sauces along came this wonderful recipe! The rich chicken sauce beautifully complements the gnocchi, however I also think that it would work very well with either pappardelle or tagliatelle (and for this reason I’ve included this recipe in Menu Mistress’s ‘Pasta’ section). You could, of course, make your own gnocchi, but these days it’s possible to buy great quality gnocchi from the supermarket, including those that are gluten free.

I found this recipe in ‘Flavours of Sicily’ by Ursula Ferrigno, a book which concentrates on Sicilian dishes – if you have never visited this beautiful island, I urge you to put it on your bucket list, you will be in ‘food heaven’!

500g potato gnocchi (gluten free if required)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

50g pancetta, cubed

4 chicken thighs, boneless and skin-on, cut into bitesize pieces

100g green pitted olives

3 bay leaves

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons tomato purée

125ml white wine

50g dried porcini mushrooms

100g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size.

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

150ml chicken stock

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

Parmesan cheese, grated to serve

  1. Firstly soak the porcini in cold water for 10 minutes, drain reserving the soaking water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or casserole (which has a lid), add the onion and cook until golden.
  3. Add the pancetta, cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and stir fry for 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and parmesan cheese. Cook, covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – if the mixture becomes a little dry add a splash of the reserved porcini soaking water.
  5. Just as the sauce is ready, cook the gnocchi in boiling water according to the cooking instructions – they should only need 2-3 minutes.
  6. Drain the gnocchi, add to the sauce and stir in the chopped parsley, checking the seasoning. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Pasta alla Puttanesca (Serves 4)

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 is another recipe which I have taken from one of my favourite cookbooks, ‘Cook: A Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, which has numerous recipes from different chefsincluding Gennaro Contaldo.

6 tablespoons olive oil

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

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

6 anchovy fillets

35 black olives, stoned and sliced in half

2 tablespoon capers

300g tinned chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

A large handful parsley, chopped

400g 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.

Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Crispy Sage (Serves 4)

This is a relatively quick pasta dish, comforting and tasty. The crispy sage leaves really lift the dish. This recipe is from Marcus Wareing’s Cookbook, ‘New Classics’.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 600g)

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

½ nutmeg, grated

75g butter

80g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped

20 sage leaves

350g tagliatelle pasta

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the diced butternut squash in a saucepan and cover with cold water, add a generous pinch of salt, the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender. Strain off the water and remove the herbs.
  2. Add the nutmeg and 25g of the butter and lightly mash the squash, seasoning to taste.
  3. Heat the remaining 50g of butter in a large frying pan. When foaming add the hazelnuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-8 minutes until golden and crispy, and the butter has browned.
  4. Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and mix with most of the hazelnut and sage butter.
  5. Gently stir through the mashed squash and serve, topped with the remaining hazelnut and sage butter.

Tagliatelle with Mushrooms & Chestnuts (Serves 4)

This is a beautiful pasta recipe with lovely earthy flavours. It is particularly comforting during the winter months, however I cook it all year round as we like it so much. Unusually this pasta dish calls for Comté cheese to be grated over it, it really is a delicious addition, complementing the sweetness of the chestnuts. I use the vacuum packed bags of cooked and peeled chestnuts – ‘Merchant Gourmet’ is a good brand. It is worth investing in a quality bottle of truffle oil for this recipe, as it really does enhance the flavour.

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks ‘Nina St Tropez’ by Nina Parker.

4 tablespoons olive oil

500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

400g tagliatelle (gluten free if required)

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

150g cooked chestnuts chopped (see note above)

4 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

4 tablespoons truffle oil

Comté cheese, grated to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms and cook until they have shrunk in size by about a half.
  2. Add the garlic to the mushrooms and let it cook for a few minutes before adding the chestnuts and seasoning generously.
  3. Meanwhile cook the tagliatelle according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  4. Before draining the pasta, add about three or four spoonfuls of pasta cooking water to the mushroom mixture to loosen it.
  5. Finally add the drained tagliatelle to the mushrooms along with the chives, crème fraiche and truffle oil, taste to check the seasoning.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and serve!

Amatrice Style Pasta – All’Amatriciana (Serves 4)

This is a great sauce for pasta, is 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 – it’s a great crowd pleaser! The recipe calls for Pecorino cheese rather than the traditional Italian Parmesan cheese, Pecorino is saltier and gives this dish a tangy flavour which I particularly like, but you could substitute it for Parmesan if you wish.

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

400g bucatini pasta or spaghetti (see note above)

50g freshly grated Pecorino cheese (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. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  4. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce.
  5. Serve sprinkled with the grated cheese.

Lasagne (Serves 4)

This, in my opinion, is the best recipe for lasagne, it has exactly the right balance of flavours and sauce – all too often lasagne can be too cheesy. It is a recipe by Gordon Ramsay which I found online many years ago. As I am gluten free I make it with gluten free lasagne sheets, my gluten loving husband, Nick, doesn’t even notice! This is great served with a simple green salad dressed with a classic vinaigrette (recipe here).

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large carrot

1 half of a large onion

2 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

2 pinches dried oregano

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

300g minced beef

1 tablespoon tomato purée

2 tablespoons red wine

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

50ml milk

6 ‘ready to bake’ lasagne sheets (gluten free if required)

Sea salt and black pepper

For the sauce:

25g unsalted butter

25g plain flour

300ml milk

Pinch ground nutmeg

60g cheddar cheese, grated

30g parmesan cheese, grated

A rectangular baking dish approx. 30cm x 20cm

  1. Peel and grate the carrot and onion. Crush the garlic cloves.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, gently fry the carrot, onion and garlic adding the bay leaf, pinches of oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.
  3. When the onion has softened make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the mince. Stir well to break up the meat.
  4. Add the tomato purée. Continue to cook until the meat is browned.
  5. Add the wine, cook off the alcohol before adding the tomatoes, simmer for 2-3 minutes
  6. Add the milk and remove from the heat – leave to one side whilst you make the sauce.
  7. To make the sauce, melt the butter in saucepan, add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to make a pasteOver a gentle heat gradually add a third of the milk, whisking to prevent lumps. Then whisk in the remaining milk, season with the pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper, then cook for a further minute or so before adding the cheddar cheese, stir until smooth.
  8. Spoon half the meat into the baking dish place three of the pasta sheets on top – do not overlap them, then pour over half the cheese sauce. Repeat with another layer of meat, then pasta sheets and finally the remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese and a light seasoning of salt and pepper.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Serve with a green salad dressed with a classic vinaigrette (recipe here)

Spaghetti with Anchovy & Tuna (Serves 4)

I found this recipe in the book, ‘Cook; a Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, which 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, it also uses store-cupboard ingredients so is a great weekday recipe to remember!

350g spaghetti (gluten free if required)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, each cut into quarters

4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained

250g canned tuna in olive oil, drained

50ml white wine

50g capers, rinsed and drained

2 tomatoes, diced

To Serve:

10 basil leaves

2 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 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 (Serves 4-6)

This is one of two Bolognese Sauces that I cook at home; it is the slightly less elegant of the two yet is very tasty, with homely, satisfying flavours – a great midweek treat! 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.

Watch the video of this sauce being made here!

150g cubed pancetta

Small bunch of basil, leaves picked, and stalks chopped

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

450g minced beef

1 wineglass red wine

1 level teaspoon dried oregano

400g tin of tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

200g tomato purée

450g spaghetti

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 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 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 place in a preheated oven, 180’c fan. Cook for an hour and a quarter.
  6. Just before the end of the cooking time, cook your spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  7. Serve the sauce stirred through the spaghetti with the basil leaves, torn, sprinkled over and some grated parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti with Monkfish and Cherry Tomato Sauce (Serves 4)

Often nicknamed ‘poor man’s lobster’, monkfish is a lovely meaty fish making this dish totally satisfying. It is best to have all the ingredients prepared before cooking as the sauce cooks quickly. It is a very special yet quick and simple pasta dish…

400g monkfish fillet, sliced into 1cm slices

400g spaghetti

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 red chilli, chopped (or less according to your taste)

Pinch of dried chilli flakes

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

350g ripe cherry on the vine tomatoes, halved

4 tablespoons white wine

2 tablespoons of capers

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Season the monkfish ad place in the pan, allow to colour, stirring. Then add the dried and fresh chilli, and the garlic, cook for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and wine to the pan followed by the capers, cook over a high heat for a couple of minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  4. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the pan with the sauce along with the parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice (to taste). Toss everything together and serve. Easy!

Spaghetti alle Vongole (Serves 4)

This dish is one of my all-time favourites – one of ‘my last supper’ dishes. It is extremely simple to cook and ready in minutes! I really do believe that using prosecco or sparkling wine improves the flavour of the sauce – giving it a sweetness. I buy the mini 20cl bottles of prosecco from my supermarket. I like more rather than less clams, so I suggest 1.25kg for 4 people, but you could use 1kg.

400g spaghetti

1.25kg small clams, such as palourdes (see note above)

200ml prosecco or sparkling wine (a 20cl bottle)

40g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, 2 sliced, 2 chopped

¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

  1. Firstly, rinse the clams in cold water, making sure that they are all closed – tap on those that are open and discard them if they do not close, and discard those with cracked or damaged shells.
  2. Put the clams in a saucepan over a medium to high heat, add 150ml of the prosecco. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes, occasionally shaking the pan. You will be able to hear the clams popping open as they cook. Remove the lid to check if the clams have opened, if there are still some unopened continue to cook for a minute or two.
  3. Drain the clams in a sieve over a bowl – you need to keep the cooking liquid.
  4. There maybe a couple of clams that will not open – discard these. Put 12 clams with their shells to one side, these will serve as decoration. Remove the remaining clams from their shells(discard the shells). You will be left with a small bowl of clams and the 12 with their shells.
  5. Start cooking the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  6. Meanwhile cook the vongole sauce. Melt 30g of the butter and the oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic, lemon zest and chilli flakes, fry for a minute or so until the garlic is just beginning to colour.
  7. Add 150ml of the reserved cooking liquid, the remaining 50ml of prosecco and the lemon juice. Cook over a medium to high heat, allowing it to bubble and reduce by about half.
  8. Add the remaining 10g of butter which will slightly thicken the sauce, and all of the clams including those with their shells plus the chopped parsley, cook for a further minute. Check seasoning.
  9. Finally, drain the cooked spaghetti, add to the frying pan and mix well with the clams.
  10. Serve, placing four clam shells on each of the plates.

*Visit my Instagram Page to see a video of this recipe being cooked!

Spaghetti with Sauce Vierge (Serves 4)

This is a perfect summer pasta dish, a delicious ‘no cook’ sauce for spaghetti with the added bonus of being vegetarian!

400g Spaghetti

For the Sauce Vierge:

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 shallots, finely chopped

Bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

300g tomatoes, about 4 medium

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons caster sugar

Juice ½ lemon

60ml olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, deseed, discarding any liquid – pat them dry on kitchen roll, slice into strips, then finely dice, add to a bowl along with the other sauce ingredients, mix well and season to taste.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  3. Drain the spaghetti and mix with the Sauce Vierge.

Penne with Pea and Mascarpone Sauce (Serves 4)

Another recipe from my beloved cookbook ‘A Passion for Pasta’ by the late Antonio Carluccio. You could cook this dish with your eyes closed, it really is that easy, and will be ready to eat in 15 minutes! For those of you who are vegetarian you can leave out the smoked bacon – add a pinch of paprika to give a little smokiness.

50g butter

150g smoked back bacon, cut into strips

450g tomato passata

200g frozen peas

8 basil leaves

150g mascarpone cheese

375g penne pasta

75g freshly grated parmesan cheese

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 according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  4. Add the mascarpone cheese and the basil leaves to the sauce, stir until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Drain the penne, add to the sauce, finally mix in the parmesan cheese.

Penne Pasta with Sausage (Serves 4)

I regularly cook this pasta dish as not only is it very tasty but incredibly quick to make. Although just a pinch of nutmeg and cloves are added, they really do make the sauce. The recipe is from ‘Passion for Pasta’ by Antonio Carluccio, I first bought this book over 20 years ago, it became so tattered from over use that I had to buy a second copy! If you are gluten free, like me, you can use gluten free sausages – I get some great ones from my local butcher, you can also make it with gluten free pasta, I think these days it’s hard to fault it; I have given it to Nick and Felix before, when I’ve been too lazy to cook two types of pasta, and they’ve hardly noticed! I particularly like ‘Barilla’ and ‘Garofalo’ gluten free pasta.

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

375g penne rigate

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

75g freshly grated parmesan cheese

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. Meanwhile cook the penne according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  6. Mix the sausage mixture with the parmesan cheese and add to the drained pasta.