Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage and Brown Butter

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Spring 2021) and taken from The Shortcut Cook by Rosie Reynolds.

This is a great shortcut for making your own pasta. Boiled lasagne sheets form ravioli with a rich sweet potato filling.

Serves : 2

Ingredients :

1-2 sweet potatoes, about 500g, cut into 1 cm cubes
50g Parmesan, finely grated
Fresh nutmeg, for grating
Pinch of ground cinnamon
6 dried pre-cooked lasagne sheets
Olive oil, for cooking and drizzling
4 tblsp butter
24 sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Put the sweet potato into a bowl with 1 tablespoon of water, cover with cling film and cook in the microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until tender. Drain and mash.
  • Add two thirds of the Parmesan to the bowl, along with a generous grating of nutmeg and cinnamon. Season to taste.
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and a drizzle of oil to stop the sheets sticking. Cook for 12 minutes, or for 2 minutes longer than the packet instructions. Drain and separate the sheets, then allow to cool.
  • Cut each lasagne sheet in half with kitchen scissors, so you have 12 square. Dollop 1 tablespoon of the potato mix into the middle of each square and top with a sage leaf. Fold the pasta over the filling to form a triangle and press to seal the edges. Leave to cool on a lightly oiled tray.
  • Dry the pan and return it to a high heat, adding the butter and a splash of oil. Add the remaining sage and cook until crisp. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the cooled ravioli to the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Divide between 2 plates and serve with the Parmesan, sage leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Make ahead : The filling can be made 2 days in advance and chilled. The assembled ravioli will sit happily in the fridge on a lightly oiled tray for 2 days.

The shortcut : These ravioli can be whipped up speedily in advance, while the filling is made in minutes in the microwave.

Perfect Pasta – Quick and Delectable Ragu

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (July 2020) and taken from Pasta Perfect by Laura Santini.

Loaded with umami flavours, the seared meat, concentrated tomato puree, wine and garlic in this dish combine to create a ragu like no other.  Be careful not to eat it all while tasting for seasoning!

RaguServes : 4

Ingredients :
5 tblsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled, squashed and halved lengthways
1 onion, sliced into 8 wedges
500g minced beef
1 large bay leaf
3 tblsp tomato puree
125ml red or white wine
600g boodles (butternut squash noodles; spiralised at home or shop-brought), or 600g dried pasta or 320-480g fresh pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan shavings, to serve

Method :

Bullet logo Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.  Add the garlic and onion wedges.  When these are sizzling, add the meat and seal it over a moderate to high heat, until well browned all over.

Bullet logo Season with salt and black pepper and add the bay leaf and tomato puree.  Cook on a low heat, stirring regularly to prevent the bottom burning, until the oil begins to separate from the sauce.

Bullet logo Add the wine to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed.

Bullet logo Towards the end of the cooking time, cook the boodles or the pasta, according to the packet instructions.

Bullet logo Serve the quick ragu with the cooked, drained pasta or boodles and top with parmesan shavings, plus plenty of extra black pepper.

Tasty transformation : For a juicy bolognese, add two 400g cans of chopped tomatoes and a pinch of dried oregano.  Or, better still, add enough ‘Classic red sauce’ (see separate recipe) to give the consistency required.  A quality tomato pasta sauce from a jar could also be added with excellent results.

Perfect Pasta – One-Pot Pasta

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (July 2020) and taken from Pasta Perfect by Laura Santini.

Simply throw all the ingredients in a pot or pan and watch dinner come together.

One Pot pastaServes : 4

Ingredients :
350g linguine or spaghettini
350g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
4 anchovy fillets (optional, if not using, add an extra tsp of salt)
Large handful of basil leaves
2 tblsp capers, drained and rinsed
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Method :

Bullet logo Place all the ingredients (except the Parmesan) in the bottom of a pan that is large enough for the pasta to go in whole.

Bullet logo Add 850ml water and bring to the boil over a high heat.  Stir frequently, until the pasta is al dente and the water has almost evaporated (about 9 minutes).

Bullet logo Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately with the Parmesan sprinkled over.

Pasta Perfecto – Classic dough for Pasta

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (July 2020) and taken from Pasta Perfect by Laura Santini.

This easy recipe comes from Emilia-Romagna, the pasta-making capital of Italy – so it must be good!

Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :
500g type OO flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
5 free-range eggs (the rule is 1 egg for every 100g flour)

Bullet logo Sift the flour into a mound on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre, add salt and crack in the eggs, one by one.

Bullet logo Use a fork or your fingertips to beat the eggs lightly in the centre of the well, drawing in the flour a little at a time. If too wet, add a bit more flour; if too dry, add a drop of water.

Bullet logo When combined, knead together into a large ball of dough. It will look smooth, more like pastry than bread. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in a cool place for 15-30 minutes.

Bullet logo Once the dough has rested, if working by hand, lightly flour a rolling pin and get rolling until you’ve reached the desired thickness for your chosen shape. Roll either by hand or through a pasta machine until thin, then cut into the required shape. If using a pasta machine, follow the machine instructions.

Bullet logo Work with one quarter of the dough at a time to make it more manageable.

Pasta Perfecto – Arrabbiata

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (July 2020) and taken from the book Pasta Perfect by Laura Santini.

This is a simple tomato sauce with a kick of heat – the spice both exhilarating and moreish. An easy recipe for a quick weeknight meal, topped here with ricotta and aubergine curls.


Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :
Extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways
900g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and cut into half-moons
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn, plus extra to serve
1 tsp sugar
400-600g dried pasta or 320-480g fresh pasta

Method :

Bullet logo Heat 5mm oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, to flavour the oil. As the garlic begins to colour, add the tomatoes, chillies, dried chilli flakes, basil and sugar, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bullet logo Cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down, but not totally.

Bullet logo Meanwhile, for the topper, slice the skin from the aubergine 1cm deep all around. Discard the pulpy core. Cut the skin into 1cm-wide matchsticks. Put in a colander, sprinkle with salt and squash with a heavy bowl for 30 minutes.

Bullet logo Drain and rinse the aubergine well. Squeeze out all the water with your hands and pat dry with paper towels.

Bullet logo Heat 2.5cm oil in a pot suitable for shallow-frying – check if it hot with the end of an aubergine matchstick to see if it sizzles.

Bullet logo Add the aubergine matchsticks and fry, stirring, until golden brown and slightly curled.

Bullet logo Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a few pieces of paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Bullet logo Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions.

Bullet logo Drain the pasta but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the pasta back into the pan, add the spicy cherry tomato sauce and toss over a high heat, until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Add a splash of the retained cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Bullet logo Serve, topped with crumbled ricotta, the crispy aubergine curls, extra basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with extra black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese if it makes you happy!



Summer Leek and Lemon Pasta

Recipe courtesy of The Co-operative Food Magazine.

Serves : 4

Cook time : 30 minutes

leek and lemon pastaIngredients :
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 leeks, chopped
150g broad beans
50ml dry white wine
Juice and zest of 1 to 2 lemons
300ml crème fraiche
50g Parmesan cheese
150g peas
275g linguine
Small bunch of basil
1 dessertspoon mint
75g rocket

Step One : Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan. Season and fry garlic and leeks over low to medium heat until soft and sweet

Step Two : Stir in beans, wine, lemon juice and zest. Simmer gently for about 3 to 4 minutes and then add crème fraiche, Parmesan and peas.

Step Three : Cook linguine according to packet instructions and then drain and combine with sauce in pan. Add basil, mint and rocket and stir. Season to taste. Serve with extra lemon zest grated over each plate.

Blue Cheese and Broccoli

Serves : 4

Preparation time : 10 mins

Cook time : 18 minutes

Ingredients :
1 tblsp olive oil
8oz (225g) tricolore penne pasta

For the sauce :
8oz (225g) broccoli florets
1 tblsp olive oil
1 ½ oz (40g) whole blanched almonds
1 onion, peeled and chopped
¼ pt (150ml) dry white wine
4 tblsp double cream
6oz (175g) Dolcelatte cheese

Step One : Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add oil and cook pasta for 10 mins, or until al dente.

Step Two : Meanwhile, make the sauce: Cook broccoli for 4 mins. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Reserve.

Step Three : Heat oil and add almonds. Cook for 2 mins, then remove and reserve.

Step Four : Add onion to pan and sauté for 4 mins. Stir in wine and cream, and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by half.

Step Five : Break cheese into pan, then add broccoli and almonds. Cook for a further 2 mins. Drain pasta an spoon sauce over. Serve.

Marille with Peas

Marille was designed by pasta loving Giugiaro, the famous Italian car designer. Its ribbed tubular shape holds lots of sauce. If you can’t buy marille use penne or rigatoni.

Serves : 4
Prep time : 20 mins
Cook time : 25 mins

Ingredients :
2oz (50g) butter
5oz (150g) smoked bacon, rinded and cut into strips
1 lb (450g) carton or bottle of passata, or 4 large ripe tomatoes, skinned and deseeded
7oz (200g) frozen petits pois or small fresh peas
13oz (375g) marille, penne or rigatoni
8 basil leaves
5oz (150g) mascarpone cheese
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
3oz (75g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Step One : Heat the butter and fry the bacon until crisp. Add the tomatoes and petits pois and cook for 5 minutes (or cover and cook for 15 minutes if using fresh peas).

Step Two : Meanwhile cook pasta for 10-12 minuts or until al dente. Add the basil and mascarpone cheese to the sauce and stir until just warmed through and the cheese has melted. Season to taste.

Step Three : Drain pasta, add to sauce and mix with the Parmesan cheese.

Linguini with Mussels and Walnut Parsley Pesto

A Delia Smith recipe taken from the Radio Times many years ago.

Serves : 4

For me, Mussels are still a luxury food that cost very little money. I don’t think anything can match their exquisite, fresh-from-the-sea flavour. In this recipe every precious drop of mussel juice is used which gives a lovely concentrated flavour. Now that mussels come ready cleaned and prepared, it make the whole thing very simple and easy: all you have to do is put them in cold water, then pull off any beardy strands with a sharp knife, using them as soon as possible and discard any that don’t close tightly when given a sharp tap.

900g (2 lb) mussels, cleaned and prepared
175g (6oz) linguini or other pasta
1 tblsp olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
175ml (6 fl oz) dry white wine
Salt and freshly milled black pepper.

For the pesto:
10g ( ½ oz) walnuts, chopped
25g (1oz) curly parsley, leaves only
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tblsp olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper.

To serve: 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Step One : First prepare the pesto: select a large pan that will hold the mussels comfortably, then in it heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the walnuts in the hot oil to get them nicely toasted on all sides – this will take 1-2 mins. Place the walnuts and any oil left in the pan into a liquidiser or food processor, add the parsley and garlic, the remaining tablespoon of oil and seasoning, then blend everything to make a puree.

Step Two : Next you need to deal with the mussels: heat the olive oil in the same pan that you sautéed the walnuts in, add the shallot and chopped garlic and cook these over a medium heat for about 5 mins or until they’re just soft. Now turn the heat up high, tip in the prepared mussels and add the wine and some salt and pepper. Put on a closely-fitting lid, turn the heat down to medium and cook the mussels for about 5 mins, shaking the pan once or twice or until they have all opened.

Step Three : During those 5 mins bring another large pan of salted water up to the boil. Then when the mussels are cooked, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a warm bowl using a slotted spoon and shaking each well so that no juice is left inside. Keep 8 mussels aside still in their shells, for a garnish. Then remove the rest from their shells and keep them warm, covered with foil in a low oven.

Step Four : Then place a sieve lined with muslin or gauze over a bowl and strain the mussel liquor through it. This is very important as it removes any bits of sand or grit that get lodged in the shells.

Step Five : Now it’s time to pop the pasta into the boiling water and put a timer on for 8 mins (some pasta might need 10 mins so follow the instructions on the packet). Then pour the strained mussel liquor back into the original saucepan and fast-boil to reduce it by about one third. After than turn the heat to low and stir in the pesto.

Step Six : Now add the shelled mussels to the pesto sauce and remove from the heat. As soon as the pasta is cooked, quickly strain it into a colander and divide it between two hot pasta bowls. Spoon the mussels and pesto over each portion, add the mussels in their shells and scatter over the parsley. Serve absolutely immediately with some well-chilled white wine.

Pasta with Broccoli and Smoked Cheese

broccoli.jpgTime to prepare : 20 mins

2 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion and 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500g (1 lb) fresh pasta and
6 Lapsang Souchong Tea Bags
500g (1 lb) broccoli, divided into bite-sized florets
400g (14oz) can of chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp concentrated tomato puree
125g (4oz) either smoked or herby black olives
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
125g (4oz) smoked mozzarella, sliced.
To serve: sliced tomato and fresh basil leaf salad

Step One : Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and tea bags, stir well and cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain well and keep warm. Discard the tea bags.

Step Two : Cook the broccoli florets in boiling salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and garlic, and cook gently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, olives, broccoli and thyme, and cook for about 3 minutes.

Step Three : Gently toss this sauce with the pasta then add the sliced mozzarella and serve before the cheese melts with a tomato and basil salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar.