Tiny Pasta and Peas

Pasta is not just a main dish – it makes beautiful salads, and also great side dishes. This one uses tiny pasta – use any of the tiny pastas, the sort that are commonly used in minestrone. The pasta is cooked then mixed with peas that have been cooked with parsley, garlic and onion. This is a fairly simple dish – there are much more fancy ways of making this, but we love this very simple version.

You can make this dish with other veggies too – tiny cubes of carrot barely cooked, sweetcorn, the youngest tiny broad beans etc.

Similar dishes include Pasta with Avocado, Rocket Salad with Penne Pasta, Capunti Pasta with Tomatoes, and Buttered Orzo Pasta.

Browse all of our Pasta dishes and our Pea recipes. Or explore all of our Mid Spring dishes.

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Fennel a la Greque with Parmesan

When I had a fennel bulb sitting in the bottom of the fridge, my friend Jude came to the rescue with this easy cooked-in-the-oven dish, a la Grecque in style, melt-in-the-mouth in texture and oh-my-goodness flavour-wise.

The fennel, topped with parmesan cheese, is slowly cooked in wine and olive oil until achingly tender, then uncovered and left to crisp and caramelise. It is perfect either hot from the oven or at room temperature. It works well as a side dish, starter or part of a mezze, tapas or grazing plate.

Similar recipes include Fennel Jam, Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Fennel and Potato with White Peas and Garlic, and Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta.

Browse all of our Fennel dishes and our A la Grecque recipes. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Fettuccine All’Alfredo | Fettuccine with Butter and Parmesan

This is a gorgeous and quick pasta dish of 3 or 4 ingredients – so unusual in today’s current fashion of long ingredient lists. It is often also called Fettuccine Alfredo, although it’s original name was Fettuccine al Burro.

Traditionally this dish did not include cream – the sauce was an emulsion between butter and parmesan. However, the American version is made with cream, butter and cheese. Choose which ever version you prefer.

It is said that in the 1020’s Alfredo, a restaurateur, was trying to find a dish that his pregnant wife, who had lost her appetite, would eat. He added cheese to a simple pasta-and-butter dish and she loved it. When he introduced it to his restaurant it became popular around the world.

Similar dishes include Pasta and Peas, Pasta with Avocado, Vermicelli with Charred Broccoli, Pasta with Broad Bean Puree, Pasta with Yoghurt and Cheese, and Tagliatelle with Walnuts and Lemon.

Browse all of our Pasta recipes and explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Pasta with Avocado and Herb Oil

I adore dishes that can be made in 10 mins or under. Here is an easy pasta dish – delicious – that is the perfect week night dish. It is great for lunches too, if you are at home. Put the pasta on to cook, dice the avocado, make the herb oil, mix all together and serve.

Similar dishes include Pasta and Peas, Fettuccine Alfredo, Pasta with Roasted Capsicum, Pasta Baked with Cabbage and Cheese, and Pasta with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli.

Browse all of our Pasta dishes and our Italian food. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

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Minestra con Pasta e Verdure Arriostite | Minestra with Pasta and Roasted Vegetables

We made a lot of minestrone soups this Winter – hearty vegetable soups fortified with dried beans and pasta.  Minestrone is that perfect, soupy blend, often with vegetables. It is a bowlful of goodness that leaves one sated and nourished, and feeling happy and content, at any time of the year.  No one can resist a good minestrone.

In this version, the vegetables are roasted before the soup if made with cannellini beans and vermicelli pasta. It is another incredibly delicious variation on a theme – the vegetables are a seasonal mix so that soup can be made at any time of the year.

We will often make a minestrone on the weekend in Winter – it is so hearty that a bowl of soup, some crusty bread and a simple salad is all that is needed for Wintery Weekend dinners. We are taking our inspiration from Ursula Ferrigno’s books.

Similar dishes include Tiny Pasta in Broth, Geonese Minestrone, Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup, and Italian Farmhouse Vegetable Soup.

Browse our Minestrone Soups, all of our Soups and all of our Italian dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Tiny Pasta in Broth

Italian soups are pretty much ignored outside of Italy. While we are very familiar with all sorts of pasta dishes, the breads of Italy and some vegetable dishes, few soups besides minestrone have gained traction.

Today this is a very simple soup – one made with tiny pasta and broth. Gentle, Wintery and flavoursome, it can be made with a dark broth or one with a tomato base.

Similar recipes include Pasta and Peas, Pasta with Avocado, Vermicelli with Charred Broccoli, Chickpea and Orzo Pasta Soup, and Borlotti Bean and Pasta Minestrone.

Browse all of our Italian recipes and all of our Soups. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Borlotti Bean and Garlic Soup

In Tuscany this is a  popular soup that is often served in the olive harvesting season so that the emerald green, grassy and fruity new olive oil can be drizzled liberally over the soup and on toasted bread. When making this soup, try to find the best tasting olive oil that you can.

Similar recipes include Minestrone, Cauliflower Soup with Almonds, and Creamy Kohlrabi Soup.

Browse all of our Soups and all of our Borlotti Bean recipes. Or check out our Early Autumn feasts.

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Collapsed Beetroot Greens (or any Greens or Cabbage) with Mustard Seeds and Vinegar

One of my online friends calls this technique hypercooked vegetables – long cooking so familiar in the traditional Italian and Greek cuisines. The result is a surprising lusciousness, intensity of flavour, and an almost stickiness. They are deeply flavoured and a little tart. I have made this dish with cabbage and with beetroot greens, but I am sure it would work with any leafy greens that do not collapse immediately on heat (eg most of the salad greens would be unsuitable).

You will find it difficult to stop diving into the cooking pot once these have collapsed down into their jammy texture. But if you do leave some, serve as a side dish, or over rice or any other grain, lentil or bean (freekeh, couscous, white beans, burghul, red rice, etc), turn into a soup with a handful of the one of the tiniest soup pastas, orzo pasta or rice, or just ladle it over thick slices of toast with a drizzle of olive oil. I have also cooked turnips, diced, and added to these beetroot greens. I sometimes add sultanas to counterpoint the tartness.

The mustard seeds and cumin that I added this time are purely optional.

Do try on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you have time to let the greens collapse and intensify.

Similar recipes include Greek Village Salad, Parsley Braised with Tomatoes and Olive Oil, and Green Beans with Tomatoes.

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My Italian Providore’s Vermicelli Pasta with Charred Broccoli

I have mentioned my Italian helpmate to you before, waxing lyrical about my lovely Italian providore – she is always full of good hints, tips and general information. I get all my pasta from there. Not that it is particularly better than anywhere else, but there are ALWAYS stories and tips to go with the packet of (essentially) dried flour and water.

When I picked up some vermicelli pasta for a minestrone soup, she told me how much she loves vermicelli with broccoli. Not much else needed, she said. And, well, she is right. You will love the simplicity of this dish and it will become your favourite Friday night pasta dish.

Similar dishes include Fettuccine Alfredo, Pasta with Broad Bean Puree, Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, and Bucatini with Zucchini.

Browse all of our Vermicelli dishes and all of our Pasta recipes. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Onion and Chilli Polenta

Another way that we love to cook polenta is with caramelised onions and oregano, with a ton of butter and cheese added. Then it is pan fried until crispy on the outside and soft and cheesy in the middle.

It takes a while to caramelise the onions properly, then simmer them with the stock. Allow sufficient time to make this, perhaps as you potter around the kitchen on a Sunday morning.

Another way of serving this polenta is to leave it quite moist so that it does not harden, and lay a bed of it on a plate. Top with anything you fancy – below that is a Sticky Fennel Jam that I made while the onions were caramelising. But also a beautiful Italian tomato sauce with be perfect on top. Also some roasted broccoli florets. A green chilli paste. Crispy onion rings. Whatever your imagination suggests.

Similar recipes include Wet Polenta and Tomato Layers, Polenta Crisps, and Polenta Chips.

Browse all of our Italian dishes and all of our Polenta recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. It is cross posted on our sister site, Heat in the Kitchen. It appears here as part of the Retro Recipes series of recipes which documents our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.

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