I feel slightly sheepish running three pasta recipes when we are all still waist-deep in Rachel Roddy’s very wonderful An A-Z of Pasta, published this summer. That said, as the title of her new book implies, pasta is the gift that keeps on giving, from ABC to 1, 2, 3, Monday to Sunday, from little person to big oldie. I’ll leave the A-Z to Rachel, then, and share my own hello autumn 1, 2, 3.
Kalbi butter noodles with spring onions and sesame seeds
Kalbi marinade is usually used on short ribs destined for the barbecue or on rib eye steak for Korean bulgogi. Here, it adds a grown-up touch to a childhood favourite. You will notice that lots of butter is involved in this dish, and that isn’t unintentional – after all, what are buttered noodles without lashings of butter? These quantities will make 450g of the butter, so save the remaining 150g to slather on a roast chicken.
Prep 10 min
Cook 45 min
90ml soy sauce
40g dark brown sugar
1½ tsp aleppo chilli flakes
1½ tbsp sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
140g spring onions, trimmed, 60g roughly chopped, the rest cut into thin rounds
3 red chillies (30g)
20g piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
250g room temperature butter, cut into 6 even pieces
4 dry ramen noodle nests, cooked according to the packet instructions (240g)
In a small saucepan on medium high heat, cook the first three ingredients, stirring once or twice, for seven to nine minutes, until thick and syrupy. Take off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and leave to cool for five minutes.
Pour the cooled soy mixture into the large bowl of a food processor, add the garlic cloves, roughly chopped spring onions, red chillies, ginger and two and a half tablespoons of the sesame seeds, and blitz until almost smooth. Add the butter, then pulse until well mixed in. Scrape the butter mixture into a small container for which you have a lid and refrigerate for 30 minutes, until solid (if you’re in a rush, you could even pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes).
Weigh out 300g of the chilled butter. Set a large saute pan on medium-high heat, add the butter and melt until it’s bubbling gently. Stir with a wooden spoon, add the cooked noodles and sliced spring onions, and toss until the noodles are well coated.
Divide the noodles between four bowls, sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds and serve hot.
Courgette and fennel lasagne
The time spent roasting the vegetables in advance really concentrates their flavour, so don’t be tempted to skip that step. Also, it’s at least in part earned back by how quickly the no-cook bechamel takes to make. Stir any excess pesto through pasta or couscous for an easy midweek lunch.
Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr 45 min
Rest 20 min
6-7 large courgettes (1½kg), trimmed and cut into ½cm-thick rounds
3 large heads fennel (1kg), trimmed and cut into ½cm-thick slices
2 bunches spring onions (175g), trimmed and finely sliced
250ml olive oil, plus 1 tbsp extra to finish
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 tbsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
1½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
50g dill, roughly chopped
30g parsley, roughly chopped
1 large lemon, finely zested, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 3 tbsp
150ml vegetable stock (or water)
2½ tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
½ tsp honey
300g fresh lasagne sheets
For the ricotta cream
175g pecorino romano, finely grated
125g buffalo mozzarella, roughly chopped
80ml double cream
Heat the oven to its highest setting – 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9 – and line two large shallow baking trays with greaseproof paper so it overhangs by about 4cm on every side. Put the courgettes, fennel and spring onions in a large bowl. Add 150ml olive oil, two and a quarter teaspoons of salt and a few good grinds of pepper, then toss to coat.
Spread out the vegetables evenly between the two lined trays and roast for 40 minutes, rotating the trays once and giving everything a good stir halfway through. Tip the vegetables from one tray into the other, so they’re all now in one tray. Scatter over the garlic, capers, fennel seeds, 25g dill, 20g parsley and a tablespoon of lemon juice, stir to combine, then return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Turn down the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6, pour the stock over the vegetables and bake for five minutes more. Tip the lot into a large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the remaining dill, parsley and lemon juice in the small bowl of a food processor, add the lemon zest, 100ml olive oil, the honey, pumpkin seeds and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and blitz to a coarse paste. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
Put the ricotta, 125g pecorino and all the mozzarella in the large bowl of a food processor, add the double cream andan eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and blitz until thoroughly combined.
Spoon some of the vegetables into a 20cm x 30cm baking dish, just enough to cover the base in a thin layer. Arrange a layer of pasta sheets over the top (cut to fit, if need be), then spoon over a third of the remaining vegetables. Roughly dot six tablespoons of the ricotta cream and a tablespoon and a half of the pesto on top, then sprinkle over about half a tablespoon of pecorino (reserve four tablespoons for the very top). Repeat the layers twice more, using up all the vegetable mix and lasagne sheets, finishing with a bare layer of pasta on top. Spread the remaining ricotta cream over the top and sprinkle with the reserved pecorino.
Drizzle over the final tablespoon of olive oil, then bake at 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 for 40-45 minutes, turning the dish once halfway through, until nicely browned on top.
Remove and leave to rest 20-30 minutes before serving with the remaining pesto alongside.
Spicy stuffed shells
Flavoured with warming ancho chilli and cumin, these make the perfect midweek meal with minimal prep and not too much hands-on time; they’re are a winner with kids, too, though you may need to reduce the chilli levels to taste. Serve with a simple salad or sauteed greens.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr
2 ancho chillies, roughly torn
3 red chillies, roughly chopped (remove and discard the pith and seeds if you prefer less heat)
1 tbsp ground cumin
200g tomato paste
8 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped (160g net)
180ml olive oil
600g cherry tomatoes on the vine
900g lamb mince (or 500g lamb mince and 400g beef mince)
250g giant conchiglie pasta shells
2½-2¾ tbsp (10g) finely chopped parsley
10g fresh oregano leaves (about 8 tbsp), finely chopped
3 tbsp double cream
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Put the first six ingredients in a food processor with 90ml oil and two and a half teaspoons of salt. Blitz to a smooth paste, scraping down the sides as you go, then spoon half of the mix into a 35cm x 25cm baking tray. Add the tomatoes to the remaining paste in the food processor, blitz to a smooth sauce and set aside.
Put the mince and a tablespoon of oil in the tray with the chilli paste, and mix until everything is well combined; you may need to use a fork to break apart the mince so there are no clumps. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through and again breaking apart the mince with a fork to get rid of any chunks, then remove and tip into a large bowl. Set aside the empty tray to use again (there’s no need to clean it), and turn down the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½.
While the mince is baking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, drop in the pasta, cook for 11-12 minutes, until al dente, then drain.
Pour the tomato sauce into the empty mince tray and spread it out to cover the base. Once the mince mix is cool enough to handle, break it up into small pieces, then stuff it into the pasta shells. Arrange the shells in the tomato sauce, cover the tray with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, take off the foil, then brush the pasta shells with two tablespoons of oil. Turn the oven to the grill setting, then grill the pasta for four to six minutes in the middle of the oven (ie, not too near the heat source), until crisp and golden brown on top, then remove and set aside.
Drizzle the cream all over the pasta. Mix the herbs with the remaining three tablespoons of oil, spoon all over the pasta and serve.