spaghetti con la bottarga

I have been meaning to put this Sicilian recipe on the blog for a long time as I adore it and love bottarga. Bottarga is a dried, salted fish roe which is a condiment that adds the unique flavour of the sea to the pasta. You can buy it in most Italian delis or online and a little goes a long way, as you only use a small amount. The breadcrumbs add a bit of texture and you can add some lemon zest too like I do. It’s perfect for dinner for two with a salad.


Ingredients

Serves 2-3

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 -2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced 
  • Big pinch of chilli flakes 
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs 
  • 1 tbs of grated Bottarga 
  • 250g of spaghetti or any long pasta
  • A small bunch of parsley chopped 
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only (optional)

How:

Fill a big saucepan with slightly salted water and put in the stove to boil, bottarga is salty so don’t over salt the water. 

Then heat the olive oil in a big pan over a gentle heat. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and stir fry till the garlic is golden. Discard the garlic. Now add the breadcrumbs and fry them, stirring all the time till they are golden and crunchy. Stir in the bottarga and the lemon zest if using, remove from the heat. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and save half a cup of the cooking water. Put the spaghetti in to the pan with the breadcrumbs and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the reserved pasta water if it’s dry, a tablespoon at a time so it’s a bit moist. Check the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with the parsley and grate more bottarga on top and serve.

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

pasta alla norma

This is the classic delicious Sicilian aubergine Pasta Alla Norma recipe, which from everything I have read, was first created in the 1700’s in Catania in Sicily and was so delicious that it was compared to the beautiful opera Norma and thus named. Its a good store cupboard supper, and I’ve also served it up at dinner parties with a crisp green salad.


Ingredients

Serves 3-4

  • 2 small aubergines (eggplant)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced 
  • 400g of boccole, rigatoni or macaroni 
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • A big bunch of basil
  • Ricotta Salata to garnish (which is not ricotta and I couldn’t get it) or lots if grated parmesan or a vegetarian hard cheese 
  • Chilli oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How:

Make the tomato sauce by sautéing the minced garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for half a minute, but don’t let it colour. Add the tin of tomatoes and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until it’s slightly thicker. I add a teaspoon of optional maple syrup to mine to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.

Slice the aubergines (eggplant) into any shape you like… I like mine in slices lengthwise but coins are fine too. Fry them in about quarter of an inch of olive oil until golden on both sides and drain on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. 

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet in salty water. Drain and add to the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little chilli oil if using(I love it)then mix in the fried aubergine. 

Grate the Ricotta Salata over the top (or Parmesan) and finish with basil leaves.

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

pasta con le sarde

A traditional Sicilian recipe for pasta with the amazing flavours of fennel, anchovies, saffron, wine, pine nuts and lemon with crunchy bread crumbs on top. I searched high and low for fresh sardines but my fishmonger said they were out of season, so I used good quality tinned ones in olive oil and they are absolutely fine. I make mine with spaghetti Nero but any long pasta works.

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spaghetti with broccoli anchovies and pine nuts

This traditional Italian recipe for spaghetti with broccoli is deceptively delicious. It’s got a great combination of flavours with saffron, onions and wine. There is also a sweetness from the currants which makes it taste all the more delicious. Its got really typical Italian flavours and is normally made with Bucatini. I think it’s perfect for a dinner party or dinner date, (you can halve the ingredients) just serve it with a salad and a glass of wine. Job done.

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spinach and ricotta gnocchi

These gnocchi are much lighter than potato gnocchi, although I’m a still big fan of potato gnocchi. I’ve made this recipe with gluten free flour which works really well, but you can use normal flour if you prefer. They take a day to make because you need to strain the ricotta overnight in a sieve, but after that the are easy and worth making because they are clouds of deliciousness. You can also serve them with my sugo instead of the butter and olive oil with fried sage, and then grate lots of parmesan on top. They make a great starter or main meal with a salad.

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spaghetti al nero with mushrooms and chilli

This spaghetti recipe is a traditional Italian recipe which is like a lot of Italian recipes, it’s really simple but nails it with its flavours. I bought my mushrooms at Morrison’s as they have a brilliant selection of veg, fruit and herbs. The spaghetti al nero I got from my local Italian deli, but it’s equally good with standard spaghetti. It’s essentially vegan except for the spaghetti al nero which is made with squid ink, so to get the same vibe you could use black rice noodles. For the Parmesan lovers like myself, you can add lots of freshly grated Parmesan. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can find a vegan parmesan in your local supermarket or health food shop.

It’s perfect for a dinner party served with a salad and some crusty bread or for a date night as it looks really beautiful.

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spanish orange glazed squid

I have a oldish Spanish cookbook with fantastic recipes in it that are great as tapas. I’m working my way through it pretending I’m in Barcelona. This recipe from that book has the sweetness of oranges which work really well with squid and the smokiness of the smoked paprika giving it a real Spanish vibe. I’ve tweaked it slightly and replaced the sugar with maple syrup so it’s low glycemic. You can eat it as tapas with other small plates or combine it with pasta as I did. I bought my black pasta from my Italian deli but it works equally well with plain old standard spaghetti or Linguine. It’s perfect for a dinner party or a date night. My friend Timna says it’s up there with my crab Linguine as one of the best things she’s ever tasted.

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warm spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce

This spaghetti is a proper Tuscan summery delight and my Italian family favourite. It not only is fresh and simple but it has very few ingredients too. It reminds me of summer evenings sitting in our garden as children with a glass of fizzy apple juice pretending it was champagne. This spaghetti can be served with Parmesan, but it traditionally is served without. I love this with a plain salad with my vinaigrette.
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