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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Zucchini - Summer is coming

This is  a recipe taught to me by by Carmen at Olympio Oassi in Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi neaar Sorrento in Italy. It uses the finest baby Zucchini (Courgetttes) for a tasty, zingy sauce to accompany the pasta.  Whilst the Zucchini are young and before they develop into miniature marrows they are at their best and as they come in different colours the dish can haave an intersting look. Fettucine is the best pasta for this dish, and preferably freshly made!

Pasta with Zucchini (Courgette) Sauce

75 grams Pasta per person

2 small Zucchini

200 mils Water

20 grams Butter

2 tablespoons  Single Cream

Grated Peccorino or Parmesan

Salt and Pepper to season

Cut the Zucchini in half lengthwise and then each half into three lengthwise. Finely slice them across the length to produce a mass of small flakes.

Put both into a pan with the water and cubed butter. Place on a low heat.

After 10 minutes or so season and add the Cream. Bring to a slow simmer and add as much cheese as your taste likes. Stir then turn off heat. Overall this should take 15-20 minutes cooking time.

Heat lots of water to boiling then add the Pasta, stirring once. Boil for 4 minutes with the lid off. Then cover and turn off heat. Leave the Pasta for the balance of the time suggested for cooking on the packet. (i.e. 13 minutes is 4 minutes boiling and 9 minutes resting). This will produce a perfect al dente Pasta. If you use fresh Pasta then only the 4 minutes boil is needed.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce before turning into bowls and garnishing with more cheese and a Basil Leaf.

Serve with Green Salad and Garlic Bread or Focaccia and enjoy a Peroni or White Wine with it (Lachryma Christii Bianco goes well).

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Catch it while it lasts

Asparagus is one of those ingredients which is extremely seasonal and all the better for that! Between April and June this tasty vegetable is in season in the UK and needs using often before it ends.

This simple recipe utilises local Asparagus and also a local Abergavenny Goats Cheese though most areas will have their own variants and should be used appropriately.

Teamed with a Slaw and a Cucumber Pickle the tart can be eaten hot or cold and makes a light lunch or tasty supper, or a dish in a picnic.

Asparagus and Goats Cheese Tart


1 pack readymade Puff Pastry or even better make your own

6-8 Asparagus spears

4 Ripe Tomatoes

125 grams Goat Cheese

A little Parmesan

Salt and Pepper to taste

Egg Wash.

Roll 2/3 of the Pastry until it fits a baking tray.

Score a line ½ inch inside the pastry to create a border which will puff up. Put in fridge to chill.

Snap the Asparagus at its natural braking point, cut in half lengthways and put into chilled water.

Slice the tomatoes around the equator and season with salt and pepper – set aside.

Cut the Goats Cheese into rounds you can usually get 6-8 rounds.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and egg wash the border only.

Layer the tomatoes, asparagus and goats cheese inside the border.

Season again and grate Parmesan over the tart.

Bake in an oven at 200c for 20-25 minutes till the border is risen and golden.

Cool and then chill.

Serve with a green salad heavy on the Rocket or Watercress, Coleslaw and Cucumber Pickle.


Shred Cabbage leaves, grate Carrot and thinly slice an Onion. I have not given exact quantities as everyone has their own preferred balance. Season well and mix together with Mayonnaise. Taste and season again if needed. Chill in fridge until required. (Grated Apple makes a refreshing addition and a little Lime Juice adds a piquancy).

Cucumber Relish

A great standby that can be served with a whole range of meats and fish or can be added to a sandwich for an amazing lift.

I Cucumber (weighing about 1lb)

1 Small onion

2 ½ oz. sugar

1 dessertspoon of salt

Chopped Mint or Dill

¼ pint Cider or White Wine Vinegar

Freshly ground Black Pepper

Slice the Cucumber very thinly – a mandolin makes his easy

Slice the Onion to the same thickness.

Combine in a bowl and add the Salt and Sugar. Sprinkle in the Dill or Mint then add the Pepper and finally the vinegar.

Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

This pickle lasts up to 2 weeks – if you can keep your hands off – and the flavour develops all the time.

Thge season is running out!! Enjoy Asparagus whilst you can.