Posts Tagged 'italian'

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Spag Bol

We love “Spag Bol” in our house. If I was a real food blogger, I would have called this post “ragu”. But I don’t have a problem with accompanying this great sauce with spaghetti, so spaghetti bolognese it is. What I am precious about, and have been for many years, is not using that crappy red gloop you buy in jars.

This recipe is the real deal. Good quality minced beef and pork, a good vegetable base, some wine, tomato passata and a few herbs transform this innocent sounding dish into something truly special. If you try this recipe I promise you’ll never cook a “bol” in any other way.


  • 450g minced beef
  • 450 minced pork (or use 800g of beef with 100g smoked bacon pieces)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 small courgette, finely chopped
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 1 glass wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of sugar
  • handful of fresh basil (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onion and fry until golden.
  2. Add the minced beef and pork and fry hard until brown, then add the garlic and fry for a minute more.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and fry for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the basil. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan, then reduce the heat and leave on a very gentle simmer for 45 minutes. Don’t be tempted to shorten the cooking time – this is important to let the flavours deepen.
  5. Cook a batch of your favourite spaghetti (I like to use De Cecco) and add to the sauce. Add the torn basil leaves at this point, if using. Taste for seasoning and add some extra salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Serve in deep bowls with a generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Tagliatelle with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Mascarpone

It’s pasta time again. I’m hopelessly addicted to Italian Foodies’ sun-dried tomato pesto recipe. I’ve been making it pretty regularly of late, and for the first time today I found I had some left over. Shocking, I know. Happily, I also had some leftover mascarpone in the fridge, so I came up with this. You probably don’t need the can of tomatoes, just mix the pesto with the mascarpone, but I think it works rather well. Give it a try.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato & Mascarpone


  • fresh tagliatelle, enough for 2 people
  • 400g can tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese


  1. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the minced garlic. Fry for a minute and add the tomatoes, oregano, sugar and vinegar. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a bubble and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  2. Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
  3. Add the pesto, parmesan and mascarpone and stir to melt the cheese into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Add the hot pasta to the sauce and make sure the pasta is coated well. Serve with some grated parmesan and a twist of black pepper.

Serves 2.

“Pizza Hut” Garlic Bread


Bit tacky for a food blog? Hmm, perhaps. Give me home-made pizza any day. But I must admit, I’ve been known to visit Pizza Hut. I also happen to be rather partial to their garlic bread. I discovered that the elusive secret to their recipe is plenty of seasoning a good pinch of dried oregano. And you know what? It tastes almost identical to me. Even if you’re not a Pizza Hut fan, give it a try, it’s the best garlic bread you will ever taste! I never make it any other way.


  • 1 baguette (or 4 small rolls)
  • 150g butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper


  1. Make sure your butter is really soft. To achieve this, just leave your butter out of the refrigerator at night.
  2. Make a paste from the clove of garlic and some rock salt, then add to the butter. Use a mortar and pestle for this, or grind on a chopping board with a knife. It’s very important not to have huge lumps of garlic in your butter.
  3. Season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a shake of dried oregano. Mix well.
  4. Slice your baguette and spread each slice liberally with the garlic butter. Toast under a hot grill until golden. It will smell and taste amazing.




Crostini (“little crusts”) are really handy when you want something small to serve with drinks and they also make a great appetiser. Slice some baguette or foccaccia thinly and grill both sides on a cast-iron grill pan. (Toasting under a conventional grill gives great results but I like the charred edges you only get with the grill pan.) When slightly charred on both sides, rub the toasts with a peeled clove of raw garlic then brush lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Leave to cool fully before serving or placing any toppings on the crostini.

I served the above crostini with some black olive paste and sun-dried tomatoes. Check out the following crostini topping suggestions, taken from Jamie Oliver’s “Italy“.

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio E Pepperoncino


As part of my continuing efforts to work my way through every one of Italian Foodie’s recipes (!), I had a go at the rather exotic sounding “Spaghetti Aglio, Olio E Pepperoncino“. This roughly translates as “Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili“. The recipe is as simple as it sounds – just gently heat some good extra-virgin olive oil, lightly colour the sliced garlic, then add some finely-chopped red chili and fresh flat-leaf parsley. Add some good quality spaghetti to the sauce (as the Italians do) and serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese. Very tasty and makes a great change from “red sauce”. Check out Lorraine’s recipe here. Thanks once again Lorraine!

Tagliatelle with Crème Fraîche, Lemon & Rocket

Tagliatelle with Creme Fraiche, Lemon & Rocket

I saw this recipe on Italian Foodies and it looked so super (and different) that I was determined to try it. I suffer from red sauce-itis, where out of habit I expect pasta to be coated with tomato or garlic, or a combination of both. So this was something entirely different for me. It tasted delicious – very light and fresh. I did take the liberty of adding a handful of toasted pine; Lors, I hope you approve of this deviation!

Check out the recipe yourself, the photos are as impressive as the dish tastes.

Quick Pasta


I’ve been craving pasta lately. It must be from looking through the great pasta recipes on italian foodies recently. I’ve never thought of pasta as hangover food, but when I woke up just before noon today with “a bastard behind the eyes“, pasta was the only thing I contemplated making. Something rich and comforting…

This simple recipe relies very much on “store cupboard” ingredients. I fried some diced pancetta in a little oil until crispy. I then added a clove of garlic that was pounded with some sea salt using a mortar and pestle. (Pounding garlic with salt, rather than chopping it, makes a huge difference to food.) I added a small tub of double cream (about 200ml), a tablespoon of good pesto from a jar (for shame!) and a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese. I then added some hot pasta and a few grinds of black pepper.

I can think of few meals from my own repertoire that offer as great a reward for such little effort. Time spent? About 15 minutes from start to finish. The mind boggles as to why people buy this shit.