3 Perfect Pastas

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, not intentionally, as it’s been a busy year.

I’m off next week overseas for about 7 weeks for business, so the family aren’t coming, and I’ve been slightly worried about how my husband is going to feed himself (opening a bottle of wine is not a problem). But when faced with a saucepan and the stove, he’s confused, and takeout is not an option in our family. We just don’t do it.

So to start with I’ve taught him how to make his 3 favourite pasta dishes, and suggested he make a salad to accompany them (one can only hope), the first being a classic ragù, the second a la panna, and the last, our family favourite tuna pasta.

Well, it’s a start and these are delicious. Not hard to prepare, and with any luck the next post will be not so long in coming.

Enjoy.

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Ragù For Pasta

  • 100g butter
  • 1k pork/veal mince
  • 4 brown onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cans crushed tinned tomatoes
  • 500ml wine of your choice
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Put a large pan over a medium high heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the pork/veal mince, and fry it until it has changed colour. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until golden brown, turning the heat down if necessary.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Put another pan over a medium heat, and pour in 2tbsp olive oil. Fry the vegetables and the herbs until softened, about 12 minutes, adding the extra 1tbsp of olive oil if necessary.

Add the meat to the vegetables and mix everything together well. Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, season with salt and pepper and simmer the sauce for 2 hours or until the meat is tender, and of a good sauce consistency (Top up with a little water if necessary).

Serve with pasta of your choice, and a decent spoonful of Parmesan cheese.

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Spaghetti alla Panna

Serves 2

  • 250g spaghetti
  • 50g butter
  • 125ml cream
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking salt
  • 2tbsp pasta cooking water

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, throw in a tablespoon of salt, the spaghetti, and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt half the butter over a low heat.

Add cream, half the cheese, grated nutmeg, black pepper and bring it to a simmer turning off the heat as it reaches boiling point.

When pasta is cooked, drain, reserving 1/4cup of the cooking water.

Return pasta to pot, and over a low heat, add remaining butter and 1tbsp cooking water. Toss pasta to combine, and when every strand is coated, stir in the cream sauce, only adding the remaining water as necessary if the sauce seems too thick.

Immediately serve in warm bowls, with the rest of the Parmesan cheese.

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Tuna Pasta

Serves 4-5

  • 1 x 425g tin tuna in olive oil
  • 400g Spaghetti
  • 2 medium sticks celery, peeled and diced
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 1 bunch parsley, stalks removed
  • 1 clove garlic, green germ removed
  • Juice and zest of 1large lemon
  • 100g baby capers
  • 2-3 pinches dried chilli flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, salt
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, when boiling, add 1tbsp salt, throw in pasta, stir, and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, open tin of tuna and tip contents  including olive oil into a large bowl.

Add diced celery, and mix, gently breaking the tuna into small pieces.

Place anchovies, parsley, and garlic onto a chopping board, and finely chop using a large knife. Add to bowl with zest of lemon, juice, capers, chilli flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix gently.

Drain pasta, tip into bowl, and toss with the tuna mixture, adding a decent slurp of olive oil to just coat the pasta.

Serve with grated Parmesan.

This pasta is also delicious served at room temperature, and leftovers keep well.