Week 30: Pasta alla Genovese

I know its a bit of a cop out, but my brain dribbled out of my ear as I chewed on the ears of my seventeenth Lindt bunny, so I chose this recipe purely because it was green.

Green just like the spring haha.  I have never cooked with Pesto before, or said the words “Ooo its got pesto in, I’ll have that”, so I thought it would be good to try something new.  And it meant I got to use the machine again…


As I read the ingredients list, I thought about getting garlic bread so I could pack all the carbs into one dish, but decided that the pasta and potatoes would be enough on their own.

To make this for 4 you will need: 500g floury potatoes (like King Edwards, cut up into half inch chunks), 500g linguine, 200g fine beans, 100g basil leaves, 100g grated Parmesan, 1 garlic clove, 100ml olive oil, and 100ml extra virgin olive oil.

You will need a large pan, filled with enough salted water to boil the potatoes and the pasta.  Put the potato chunks in and bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes.

Add the pasta and boil for the length of time recommended on the packet and four minutes before the end, then throw in the beans.  Note: if you are using fresh pasta, boil the potatoes for 28-30 minutes and then put the beans in, put the pasta in so it will be cooked when everything else is done… use dried pasta.

Nigella says that for this dish you need to make the pesto yourself, in a blender!  Vroom!  While the pan is on with the potato and pasta put the basil leaves, Parmesan, garlic and oil into the mixer and blitz it until it looks like pesto… which is really hard to photograph.

Take half a cup full of the cooking water from the pan and then drain the potatoes, pasta and beans.  Off the heat return them to the pan and stir in the pesto and the cooking water and serve immediately.


I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong; it just didn’t really taste of anything.  My friend suggested that I’d not salted the water enough (I had) and I thought maybe my Parmesan wasn’t flavour-full enough.  While it smelled amazing and looked devine it was pretty bland so I don’t know if I’ll make it again.

And I still don’t totally see what all the fuss is about with pesto!


Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2010, ISBN 9780701184605)

Nigella Kitchen

Week 27: Sapori Forti

So I slightly burned this the first time round, so I had another crack at it!

It’s been a couple of months since I tried something new from my trusty Cupboard Love book, and as my lover pointed out: a while since I’ve stirred something different into some pasta.  Sapori Forti translates as Strong Flavours, and I’d been glancing at the recipe in a quizzical fashion ever since Week 9 ( and when this week’s New Recipe Night crept up on me I realised I had everything in the cupboard!

To make Sapori Forti for two you will need: 200g pasta (linguine or spiralli), 1 onion (thinly sliced), 2 garlic cloves, 4 or 5 anchovy fillets, 50g black olives, 1 tbs capers, 50g raisins, 1 tbs pine nuts, 1 tbs chopped mint/oregano and some extra virgin olive oil.

First up, pop the raisins in a bowl in some warm water; while these are plumping up finely chop the onion, chop the garlic, roughly chop the capers and the olives and measure out the tablespoon of pine nuts (because you’ll only forget them later, like I did)

Heat 2tbs of normal olive oil in a fairly wide pan and fry the onion and garlic for about 5 or 10 minutes until really softened (keep stirring, but a bit of browning is OK).   Set your pasta water boiling in a different pan.

When the onion is really soft turn the heat down and add the anchovies, cook until they disintegrate and melt into the onions.  While this is melting, put your pasta into the water and cook as recommended on the packet (if you’re the sort to make your own pasta or buy that posh fresh pasta that cooks really quickly, don’t do this for a few more minutes)

After the anchovies are cooked add the olives, capers, raisins, pine nuts and herbs and remove the pan from the heat.  Give it all a good stir and add the extra virgin olive oil, it sort of loosens up and the oil picks up the combined flavours.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pan – fold the sauce around the pasta and serve.

So the first time I tried it I somehow blackened it to a crisp – without actually burning it – but it tasted so good I had a second bash at it, with new less charred pictures.  I’m glad I did it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve made!  Open your copy of Cupboard Love to page 28 and have it tonight!


Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 18: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti like a whore would make; and I’m just the Putta to give it a whirl.

This recipe comes from the book to accompany my guilty pleasure cooking program on Food Network.  Nadia G’s Bitchin Kitchen.  Imagine my surprise when Santa bought me the book to go with series one this Christmas!

Bitchin Kitchen

I’ll admit, the first time I saw it I thought I was hallucinating and once I’d remembered I was sober I realised it was brilliant. However I found that none of my other friends had seen it, or weren’t fans.  The philistines.  I was overjoyed to see that the first recipe I ever saw was in the book (I can’t think why it wouldn’t be) and I chose to christen this new book with it.

The recipe uses Spaghetti (I use linguine) cherry tomatoes, anchovy fillets, capers, kalamata olives, garlic, olive oil, chilli flakes, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  I love how exact the recipe is, requiring 26 tomatoes.  All the ingredients are ones that are long lasting (except the tomatoes which last about nine minutes if you buy them from Sainsbury’s) and this is an ideal recipe for the end of the week before shopping day.

I would love to find kalamata olives sold ready pitted in jars, so I can sashay over to my cupboard and make it without having to remember to go to the deli counter – I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled, or maybe try it with black olives…?

Everything went in ok,  the tomatoes stewed into a nice light sauce.  I’d never bought/seen/cooked with capers before, and I was surprised how small they are, and how fiddly they were to chop.  I’ve worked out how to do it now though without loosing any fingers.  They get chucked in with the olives and before the pasta for the last 5 minutes.

The first time I made it it was a little too al dente; mostly because the timings are for spaghetti rather than linguine, but I made a note for next time.

puttanesca 3

It was lovely.  I thought it probably would be because I really like the Linguine with Sardines and Anchovies I made back in week 9 (…es-and-parsley – and still make most weeks) it was spicier and saltier than I thought, but that doesn’t make it bad.  It was also a great recipe to christen my tongs (which I bought after burning myself on the lamb lollipops) and it has spurred me to buy a mini sieve (because it just seems silly straining capers in a full sized one)

I will definitely try more recipes from this book, once I’ve finished gazing at the pictures of Hans.  Shkoff!!

Nadia G’s Bitchin Kitchen Cookbook, by Nadia Giosia (Skirt! 2009. ISBN 978-1-59921-441-2)