Simply food

MORE COMFORT IS ON THE WAY—PASTA THAT IS

Tagliatelle con nero di seppia

Continuing my search for comfort food to get us through the pandemic, in my last article, I tackled penne and rotini. Today, it’s the turn of tagliatelle and fusilli. 

In my kitchen I’ve garganelli all’uovo, tagliatelle con nero di seppia, rotini tre colorati, rotini verde, fusilli bucati corti and penne rigate. Don’t let the Italian words confuse. Garganelli is like penne, made from a wrapped square of pasta; all’uovo is pasta made with extra eggs; con nero di seppia describes black pasta dyed with squid or cuttlefish ink; green pasta is dyed with spinach; red pasta is dyed with carrot or tomato juice; tre colorati is coloured red, white and green, to match the Italian flag; bucati corti means short, pierced, which indicates there’s a hole down the middle rather than the extruded version; rigate means ridged, a better way to get the sauce to stick.

Honestly, red and green pasta tastes exactly like white pasta, but it does make for a showy presentation. I’ve always wondered whether squid ink, which gives black pasta it’s interesting color, also adds any flavor. I’d have to say that in dried pasta there’s no difference, but if you can get fresh black pasta, then you will notice a hint of sea saltiness, which makes it absolutely perfect for pairing with seafood. As I’m cooking vegetarian today, I’ve made the shrimp optional in my recipe.

TAGLIATELLI CON NERO DI SEPPIA

Shopping list

  • 250 g / 8.8 oz squid ink pasta
  • 450 g / 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (OPTIONAL)
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ yellow or orange sweet bell pepper
  • ½ red sweet bell pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 4 TBSP EVOO
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

Preparation and cooking

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  2. Fry the garlic and julienned peppers, in hot olive oil until the garlic is lightly browned and the peppers begin to soften. Add the cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup water and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 mins, or until tomatoes are softened but not broken. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the pasta about 8-10 mins, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, and return to the pot.
  4. OPTION: Add the shrimp to tomato mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked.
  5. Now add the lemon zest, lemon juice and 2 TBSP of pasta cooking water to the pot with the pasta. Cook, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is coated in the sauce. Chck the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Add half the grated Parmesan and stir in well. TIP: If the sauce seems dry, add in some more of the pasta cooking water. Remove from heat and stir in half the basil.
  6. Garnish with remaining basil and Parmesan and serve.

Another good vegetarian recipe replaces the cream of Alfredo sauce with a cream made from soaked and blended cashew nuts. If it sounds weird, it’s really very tasty. I cooked with fusilli bucati corta, which I like better than rotini when there’s a creamy sauce, although the choice is yours. The recipe calls for both dried wild mushrooms and fresh mushrooms, but really you can suit yourself and use any combination. Some suggest chopping the mushrooms into a mush, but I prefer the chewiness of them whole. I have to hand some delicious dried chanterelle mushrooms, famous for their golden colour and woodsy flavour. Again, it’s cook’s choice. This is a really good dish for a dairy-free diet. For anyone, it’s delicious.

FUSILLI BUCATI CORTA CON FINFERLI

(Fusilli with wild chanterelle mushrooms)

Shopping list

  • 80 g raw unsalted cashew nuts, soaked overnight
  • 25 g dried wild chanterelle mushrooms, soaked for 20 mins
  • 4 fresh cremini mushrooms, stemmed, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup EVOO (or a good splash)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • ½ dry white wine
  • 2 cups fusilli bucati corta (OPTION: rotini)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper

Garnish

  • Chives, chopped

Preparation and cooking

  1. Soak cashew nuts in filtered water overnight, covered. When they are soft, drain and discard the water. Dump them into a blender, add about ½ cup of fresh filtered water and blend at high speed until a smooth cashew cream results.
  2. Soak the dried mushrooms in warm, not boiling, water for 20 mins. Drain and set the juice aside.
  3. Quarter the fresh mushrooms, chop the onions and smash and chop the garlic.
  4. Fry the onions in a good splash of EVOO, when they are translucent, but before they brown, add the garlic and fry briefly. Add the fresh mushrooms and fry for 5 mins. Then add the soaked dried mushrooms for a further 2 mins. If necessary, add another splash of EVOO.
  5. Deglaze the pan with wine. When it is bubbling and most of the alcohol has evaporated, add 4 TBSP of the reserved mushroom juice. Lower the heat to just simmering and cook until the liquid is reduced.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add the pasta and cook for no more than 11 mins. Drain, reserving the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot to keep warm. Add a drop or two of EVOO if the pasta seems sticky.
  7. Add some pasta water to the sauce and stir in well. If the sauce gets too thick at any time, add more pasta water. Now, stir in the cashew cream and mix well. Cook for five mins at low heat, until all the mixture is heated through. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce should have a bit of a kick.
  8. Plate the pasta into bowls, add generous portions of the sauce and garnish with chopped chives. Serves four.
Featured image: (L to R) Garganelli all’uovo, tagliatelle con nero di seppia, rotini tre colorati and penne rigate.
(c) 2021 Nigel Napier-Andrews

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This is Nigel’s 307th blog on Gentleman’s Portion. The SEARCH function at the top works really well, if you want to look back and see some of his previous stories. The link to Gentleman’s Portion: The Cookbook is now live, well priced at $9.99 or £9.99.

And please check out his cooking videos— Episode 1: Fruit parfait, Episode 2: Eggs Benny or Episode 3: Baked Whitefish, the first three of an occasional series, or watch on YouTube.

Categories: Simply food

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