Penne with peas, pancetta and cream


Put the chopped pancetta into a frying pan with a splash of olive oil. In the meantime put your pasta on to cook in a pan of salted water. When the pancetta is browned add the garlic, fry until golden then add the peas and cream. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add seasoning including black pepper and basil leaves.

Mix the pasta and the cream sauce together and serve with grated parmesan.

Pasta with smoked mackerel


For this pasta with smoked mackerel  recipe choose a good pasta like De Cecco which typically takes around 10-12 mins, the pasta should be cooked through but with a little bite to it.  You can’t get a better place to source mackerel than Scotland so make sure you get something that it is good quality, Italian food is simple and relies on great ingredients.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a cold frying pan and add the crushed garlic. Put on the heat and gently fry for 1-2 minutes until the garlic starts to turn golden then add the smoked mackerel and the tomatoes and allow to bubble for a few minutes stirring gently.

Cook the penne pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente, you’ll need about 2 litres of boiling water with about 1-2 tablespoons of salt.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the creme fraiche and parsley. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until all the flavours have amalgamated. Add a generous amount of pepper and taste. You may or may not need salt as the smoked mackerel is quite salty.

Drain the pasta, reserving a tablespoon or two of the cooking water. Add this water to the sauce and mix through before adding the pasta to the smoked mackerel mixture. Mix well and serve with toasted ciabatta and a nice glass of wine.



Ravioli with walnut sauce

First make the walnut sauce:

The walnuts need to be shelled which is quite painstaking but necessary to remove the bitter flavour. There are two ways to shell them:
1. Cover them with boiling water, leave to stand for 3 minutes and drain. Rub in a clean tea towel which will remove some of the skins, peel the rest off with a small paring knife.
2. Place walnuts on a baking tray and place under a hot grill for a few minutes. This should make the skins crispy and easy to rub off in a clean tea towel.
Once the walnuts are shelled, place in a food processor with garlic, olive oil and cream and whizz to a creamy consistency. Season to taste. Set aside until required (when needed just warm through in asmall pan adding a few spoonfuls of pasta cooking water to thin down to the required consistency.

Next, make the pasta:
Put flour in food processor and add eggs. Whizz until it starts to come together. Tip out onto clean worktop and knead for 5 minutes. Roll into a thick sausage shape, wrap in cling film and chill for half an hour.

Make the filling:
Mix all ingredients together and season to taste.
Make the ravioli:
Once pasta is chilled, roll out using a pasta machine and make into ravioli using the filling (the shape is up to you – the ones in the picture are simply large squares folded over to make triangles, edges moistened with water to seal). Cook in gently boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes depending on the size. Warm the sauce and serve with the pasta.

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Rocket Salad

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Arrange the halved tomatoes cut side up in a roasting tin, drizzle 2 tablspoons of the oil over them and sprinkle with the garlic and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 mins turning once.

Cook the pasta until al dente.

Put remaining oil in a large bowl with the vinegar, sundried tomatoes, sugar and a little salt and pepper. Stir well. Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl of dressing and toss to mix. Add the roasted tomatoes and mix gently. Before serving, add the chopped rocket, toss lightly and taste for seasoning.  Serve at room temperature.

Sausage pasta with capers, olives and feta

Remove sausage meat from skins. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the sausages, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.  Add the tomato puree, stir well and fry for 1-2 mins.

Add the white wine, let it sizzle and die down then add the tomatoes. Break them down with a fork, together with any large pieces of meat.  Add capers and olives, stir, then leave to simmer for about 15 mins.

Meanwhile, boil pasta until al dente. Spoon 2-3 spoonfuls of the cooking water into the sauce. Drain pasta and return to the pan. Check the sauce for seasoning then pour over the pasta. Add half the parsley, mix and leave to stand for a couple of mins.

Mash feta roughly with a fork.  Spoon pasta onto warm plates, crumble over feta and rest of parsley.

Tomato and butter spaghetti

spaghetti with bacon and toma

This recipe was cooked for us by our good friend Marino Benedetti who owns a hotel in Malcesine, Lake Garda. It is a great quick lunch or tea dish.

Tip the tomatoes into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer quite rapidly until well reduced – it should almost become a thick, tomato paste. If using whole plum tomatoes, you’ll have to break them down slightly with a wooden spoon.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty salted water until al dente.
When ready to serve, melt the butter through the tomato sauce and season if necessary.
Mix the sauce well with the spaghetti and serve in bowls. Grate plenty parmesan over the top and enjoy with some bread and a glass of wine.

Tortellini with potato and mint

Make the pasta: Sieve the flour into a food processor and add the eggs, egg yolks, salt and oil. Pulse the mixture until it looks like fine breadcrumbs then mix on a higher speed until it starts to come together. If it looks too dry, add another egg yolk. Dust a clean worksurface with flour and tip out the pasta dough. Divide the dough in half (this will make it easier to work with) and knead each half by hand for about 5 minutes until completely smooth and shiny. Wrap each ball of dough in cling film and chill for 30 mins – 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and pass through a pasta machine, starting at the thickest setting and working down to the thinnest setting. The pasta is then ready to make into tortellini.

Make the filling: Boil the potatoes whole in salted water until tender. Leave to cool slightly then scrape off the skin. Discard the skin and pass the potatoes through a potato ricer. Add the mint, Pecorino and nutmeg, mix together with a fork and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary and leave to cool before using.

Make the tortellini: Using a 5cm fluted biscuit cutter, cut out as many discs as you can from the rolled sheets of pasta. Using a teaspoon and your finger, place a very small amount of the filling in the middle of each disc. Brush a little water round the edge of each disc. Fold the disc in half over the filling so that the top and bottom edges do not quite meet. Press to seal. Wrap the half moon shape around your index finger and pinch to seal. If this gets too complicated you can leave them as semi-circles and call them agnolotti! Place the made pasta shapes on a floured tea towel until ready to cook.

To cook: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and place in the pasta shapes. Lower the heat to a simmer. The pasta will rise to the top after about 30 seconds but will probably require 3-4 minutes cooking. test one to see if it is al dente. Drain.

To serve: This type of pasta goes well with a homemade tomato sauce with garlic and dried chilli or just drizzled with really good extra virgin olive oil and more grated pecorino.

pasta with tomato, butter beans and ricotta


Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.

Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add the pancetta. Fry over a medium heat, stirring until crispy. Add the garlic and chilli and fry gently for a few minutes. Next, add the butter beans and fry, stirring before adding the chopped tomato and sun-dried tomato. Allow to bubble for a minute or two to let the flavours combine. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the herbs. Mix well then drop in little nuggets of ricotta and add the parmesan. Mix gently so as not to break up the ricotta. Serve immediately.

Pasta pantesca

Put the tomatoes under a hot grill until they become soft but not brown.  Skin them if desired then set aside.

Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 2 mins, peel off skins and chop coarsely.  Chop the grilled tomatoes and put in a bowl with garlic, chilli, almonds, parsley, salt and olive oil.  Mix well.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente then drain and mix with three quarters of the tomato sauce. Save a little sauce to spoon over the top. Sprinkle with pecorino/parmesan.

Pasta with tuna, peas and parsley

This is a really simple recipe and very healthy. Boil the pasta, we use De Cecco pasta shells but any good quality pasta will do. Meanwhile add the garlic to a frying pan with olive oil. Fry gently until softened and then add the tuna, capers and tomato.

Mix well and gently warm through, when the pasta is ready drain and add to the tuna with the chopped parsley and the peas. Allow the peas to cook and add the juice of half a lemon and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve

Tortellini in Brodo

Make pasta:

Sift flour and salt into food processor, slowly pour in the egg and yolks , followed by the olive oil. As soon as the mixture comes together into a dough, switch off the machine. Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10-15 mins, until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins.

Make filling:
Put all ingredients in food processor and whizz to a paste. Season. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.

Cut pasta dough in half and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Pass through a pasta machine until about 0.5mm thick. With a 6cm pastry cutter, cut circle from pasta and, using your fingers, stretch it as thinly as possible. Brush edges with a little beaten egg and place a little of the filling in the middle. Fold pasta over to make a semi-circle, press edges together to seal, then fold the 2 corners up over the centre and squeeze together tightly. Repeat until all pasta and filling has been used.

Bring stock to the boil and drop in the tortellini. Simmer for about 4 minutes, until tortellini are tender. Ladle into bowls and serve with freshly grated parmesan and chopped flat leaf parsley.

Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes

Take the tomatoes off the vine, wash and dry them, and put them in a bowl.  Add the olives, chilli, garlic, half the oregano and the oil to the tomatoes.

Leave to marinade for an hour or so.

Preheat oven to 180C. Tip contents of bowl into shallow ovenproof dish, season and cook in oven for 30 mins, until tomatoes start to burst.  Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and put in serving bowl.

Add remaining oregano and mozzarella, then tip in the tomatoes, mix together and serve.

Butter and cheese spaghetti

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente.  Grate the cheeses while the pasta is boiling. Drain the pasta, reserve 4 tbsp of the cooking water.

Put the reserved water and the butter back into the hot pan and simmer gently over a low heat. Stir until the butter melts.
Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat thoroughly. Serve with more of the cheese.

Pasta with roasted squash and creamy mushrooms


Heat the oven to 200C.

Put the squash in a small roasting tray and add about 2 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper and the thyme or sage. Mix well with your hands and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and slightly charred around the edges.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and add the bacon. Fry for a few minutes until it starts to go crispy. Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have softened, turn the heat up and add the wine. Bubble and reduce over a high heat until the wine has almost evaporated.

Cook the pasta in plenty boiling salted water until al dente.

When the squash is ready, add it to the mushroom mixture with the creme fraiche and parsley. Mix well and bubble gently for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Drain the pasta and add to the vegetables. Mix through and serve with the parmesan sprinkled on top.

Butternut squash ravioli with sage butter

Place the squash in a roasting tray, skin side down. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle on the fennel, chilli, oregano, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture into the squash. Roast in a hot oven (abot 200C) for 20-30 minutes or until the squash is cooked (see Cook’s tip).

Once cooked, scrape the flesh into a bowl and discard the skin. Mash the flesh with a fork and add the nutmeg and parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the mixture is quite wet and sloppy you will have to place it in a sieve over a bowl to drain off excess water.

Make the pasta by putting the flour and eggs into a food processor and whizzing until it starts to come together. Tip onto a worktop and knead for about 5 minutes until you have a shiny dough. Roll into a sausage shape and wrap in cling film. Chill for half and hour. Roll out using a pasta machine.

Make the ravioli by placing small teaspoons of the squash mixture along a length of rolled out pasta, leaving 3-4cm between each spoonful. Using your finger dipped in water, moisten along and between the spoonfuls of filling. Place another sheet of pasta on top and gently press the pasta around the filling, trying to squeeze out any air pockets. Cut around each one to make the ravioli using a knife or fluted cutter .

Cook the ravioli in a large pan of gently boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and transfer to a warmed serving plate. To make the sage butter heat the butter in a frying pan with the sage leaves and let it bubble until it turns foamy and then nutty brown. Pour straight onto the ravioli and serve at once.