Farfalle with pancetta

Farfalle alla pancetta. Serves 4.

  • 360 g farfalle
  • 100 g smoked pancetta, diced
  • 250 g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli (or dried), seeded and chopped
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 25 g parmesan cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  1. Heat a little oil in a pan. Add the pancetta and chilli and cook until the pancetta is lightly browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook over a low heat for around 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to minimum and stir in the cream. Cook very gently until the sauce starts to thicken – about 5 minutes.
  3. Cook the pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Cook for 30 seconds or so, stirring all the time, to allow the pasta to take up the sauce.
  4. Serve topped with the parmesan.

Spaghetti with raw tomatoes

Spaghetti al pomodoro crudo. This is a really good dish for a hot summer’s day. It’s only worth doing if you can find really ripe, tasty tomatoes though. If all you can find are the usual UK supermarket version ie. hard as a golf ball and flavourless – don’t bother 😉 Serves 4.

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 500g ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic,peeled
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the tomatoes into a large bowl along with the oil, whole garlic and basil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Cover and leave in a cool place to allow the flavours to develop – at least 1 hour but the longer you can leave it the better. Remove the garlic before serving.
  3. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, drain and mix with the sauce.

Spaghetti with courgettes

Spaghetti con le zucchine. Serves 4

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion,peeled
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 350g courgettes, thinly sliced
  • 150g mozzarella, diced finely
  • 25g parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the whole garlic clove, the whole onion, the sage leaves and the stick of celery and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium. When boiling add the courgettes. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for around 15 minutes.
  • Remove the garlic, onion, celery and sage and discard.
  • Cook the spaghetti, drain and the toss first with the sauce, then the mozzarella and finally with the parmesan.

Ragu alla Bolognese – Authentic recipe

Bologna crestIn truth there probably isn’t one authentic recipe for Ragu alla Bolognese, but this one is close enough. There are however countless inauthentic ones. It bears little or no resemblance to the dish known as Bolognese or Bolognaise found outside of Italy. It is also never served with Spaghetti!

On October 17, 1982, the Bolognese chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, “after having carried out long and laborious investigations and conducted studies and research”, announced the following recipe to be the official one. I’m sure that every family in Emilia Romagna has their own version though. Serves 4.

  • 400 grams fresh tagliatelle or fettucine
  • 300 grams minced beef – The recommended cut is thin flank aka skirt (finta cartella in Italian) but any good quality mince will do.
  • 150 grams unsmoked pancetta — minced very finely
  • 50 grams carrot — finely chopped or minced
  • 50 grams celery — finely chopped or minced
  • 50 grams onion — finely chopped or minced
  • 30 grams triple concentrated tomato purée(if using double concentrated, increase the quantity by about a third,  purée is known as “tomato paste” in the US)
  • 1/2 glass red or white wine
  • 180 ml fresh milk
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Fry the pancetta gently in a little olive oil until it starts to release its fat. Be careful not to burn.
  2. Add the vegetables and fry until the onions are transparent, stirring from time to time.
  3. Add the beef and cook until it is lightly browned. When it starts to make popping noises, it’s done.
  4. Add the tomato puree and the wine and mix well.
  5. Add the milk, little by little until it is completely absorbed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook very slowly for 3 to 4 hours.
  7. Stir occasionally and if it looks like drying out, add a little more milk.
  8. Serve with Fettuccine or Tagliatelle (NOT Spaghetti!)
  9. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side. Alternatively toss the pasta first in a little butter and then in Parmesan before adding the meat sauce.
  • Variation: The Academy allows the addition of Porcini mushrooms.
Bolognese finished dish

Bolognese finished dish

This is a more detailed explanation of the dish from Bologna Cooking School

A ragu Bolognese style is a meat sauce that is slow simmered for at least an hour to develop a complex flavor and proper thickness. Cooking the ragu in a heavy-duty enamel or similar pot will hold the heat steady and help to give a velvety texture to the ragu. Bolognese ragu is a classic sauce for lasagne and tagliatelle. The sauce also freezes beautifully.

Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian) is a meat- and tomato-based pasta sauce originating in Bologna, Italy. It is typically made by simmering ground meat in tomato sauce, white wine, and stock for a long time (often upward of four hours), so that the meat softens and begins to break down into the liquid medium. The original sauce is not done with minced meat; instead, whole meat, usually beef or veal, is chopped with a knife.
Spaghetti alla Bolognese, or spaghetti bolognese which is sometimes further shortened to spag bol, is a dish invented outside of Italy consisting of spaghetti with a meat sauce. In Italy, this sauce is generally not served with spaghetti because it tends to fall off the pasta and stay on the plate. Instead, the people of Bologna traditionally serve their famous meat sauce with tagliatelle (‘tagliatelle alla bolognese). Outside the traditional use, this sauce can be served with tubular pasta or represent the stuffing for lasagna or cannelloni.

While “Bolognese” is undoubtedly the most popular ragù in this country, it is also the most misunderstood.
The ragù you get by that name is usually a characterless tomato sauce with pea-like bits of ground beef floating in it, bearing little resemblance to anything you’d find in Bologna.
And not, in any sense, a ragù.
True ragù alla Bolognese contains no tomato sauce — just enough fresh or canned tomato to add a hint of sweetness and another layer of flavor to a subtle, complex mix. Like all ragùs, Bolognese is characterized by its long, slow cooking, which in this case starts with simmering the meat in milk (to mellow the acidity of the raw tomatoes added later) and wine (some use white, others red), after which the tomatoes are added. The whole lot is cooked together for about two hours

Fusilli with mushrooms

Fusilli Ai Funghi. This dish works best if you use a mix of different types of mushrooms. To all my Czech wild mushroom hunter friends – this is the perfect recipe :-). It works with any type however, and on this occasion I cooked it with standard field mushrooms. Serves 4.

  • 320g fusilli
  • 800g mushrooms (as many different types as possible), chopped
  • 250g tomatoes (tinned, pasatta or fresh – skinned seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 knob butter, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

 

  1. Wash and chop the mushrooms. How finely you chop them depends on taste and the varieties you are using. I could only get standard field mushrooms, so I chopped them quite finely.
  2. Fry the onion and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms start to release their liquid.
  3. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the parsley.
  5. Cook the fusilli in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a knob of butter (optional).
  6. Mix the pasta with the mushroom sauce and serve with parmesan cheese on the side.

 

 

 

 

Bavette with fresh herbs

Bavette Al Prezzemolo. This is a really nice, fresh tasting, summer dish. I first had it over ten years ago in Bergamo and have only just got around to tracking down the recipe.
Serves 4

  • 320 grams bavette
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of basil, finely chopped

  1. Heat plenty of oil in a pan, add the garlic and cook over a medium heat until it is well coloured.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the herbs. Leave to infuse for a minute or so.
  3. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and mix well.
  4. Variation: You can use other fresh herbs eg. mint, chives, dill etc. Whatever you fancy. Don’t try it with dried though.

Broad beans and wild chicory

Altamura crestFave e cicorie. This is one of the most traditional and most loved dishes from Puglia. The recipe varies from town to town and even from family to family.  Many thanks to Grazia from Altamura for her recipe.  I don’t know if ‘wild’  chicory is available outside Italy, but if you can find it, this dish is well worth trying.

Serves 4.

  • 200 grams dried peeled broad beans — soaked overnight
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 700g wild chicory, washed and separated into individual stems.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil

  1. Add the beans, onion, bayleaf, tomatoes and celery to an earthenware pot and cover with two fingers of water.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook very slowly until the beans are very tender – at least 2 hours. The water should have been completely absorbed at the end of cooking.
  3. Remove the onion, celery, and bayleaf. Mash the beans with a wooden spoon while adding a trickle of olive oil. Season with salt.
  4. Meanwhile boil the chicory in plenty of salted water until tender and drain.
  5. Add olive oil and garlic to a pan and cook until softened.
  6. Dress the chicory with the garlic oil.
  7. Serve on individual plates, arranging the beans on one side and the chicory on the other.
  8. Dress with a little more olive oil before serving.
    Variations:

  1. Grazia likes to grate the onion and celery and incorporate them in the puree.
  2. In some places potatoes are cooked along with the beans.
  3. Dress with a little chilli oil before serving (olio santo)