Italian Sausage and Mushroom Tortiglioni

The beauty of Italian cooking is the simplicity of its ingredients, provided they are high quality. This quick and easy recipe features staples in Italian cuisine, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, pasta, pork sausages, garlic and parsley. It’s important to use Italian sausages. They have a coarser texture than British ones. They’re the key to a delicious outcome so no bangers, capish?

You can buy Italian sausages in supermarkets, just look for a specific description on the packaging. However, your best bet is the Italian delicatessen. I found black truffle sausages at Signorelli’s Deli in Cambridge, which complemented the earthy mushroom flavours in this dish. I even enhanced the recipe with a few drops of truffle oil. However, if truffles aren’t your thing, there are sausages with chilli, garlic or fennel… even plain ones. Anything goes really, as long as they are Italiano!

This dish is best with a short, sturdy pasta such as rigatoni, tortiglioni or penne. Use your favourite variety of mushrooms or a mix of them, such as button, chestnut and cremini. For a more intense flavour, add a small amount of porcini mushrooms to the mix.

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Tortiglioni with Tomato and Aubergine

Aubergine, eggplant… however they’re named, I just love them. Unfortunately, Paulo “not so much” so we hardly ever used them in our cooking. I knew I had to find a compromise and this is it! It’s a dish for those who don’t like aubergine, but I’m convinced it will convert all aubergine-haters. Once they’re fried, they have a meaty texture and any bitterness is eliminated.

Pasta Norma in pan

This recipe is basically what’s known in Sicily as Pasta alla Norma. It’s a famous dish named after the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini. Its flavours are definitely a work of art! The pasta shapes vary but I prefer a sturdy pasta, such as tortiglioni or rigatoni, to take on a sauce this thick and chunky.

The Sicilian way is to top the pasta with ricotta salata (salted ricotta) but it can be tricky to find. It’s a saltier, aged version of soft ricotta. Good substitutes are salty cheeses such as feta or Pecorino.

My version of Pasta alla Norma is quick and easy but still delicious. One day I will travel to Sicily and experience the traditional recipe!

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Top 5 Reader Favourite Recipes 2014

I only started this food blog in February and looking back at the past 10 months, I am pleased that my recipes have garnered so much interest. Based on page views, the following 5 recipes have been most popular with my readers in 2014.

I thought all of my pasta recipes would be the most viewed, but I was happy to see a real mix of dishes in this list. Here goes…

No. 5: Deep Dish Red Pepper Explosion Pizza – Who says tomatoes are vital to a good pizza? Red pepper paste, particularly the one from Olive Branch, is the new tomato sauce. There are no tomatoes on this pizza, just lots of delicious red peppers (red pepper paste, roasted red peppers from a jar and fresh red peppers). A real explosion of red peppers! Throw in some mushrooms, olives, onions and mozzarella and you have a winning pizza.

Pizza

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Tortiglioni in a Rosé Sauce with Pancetta

This pasta dish is best with a short, sturdy pasta such as tortiglioni or rigatoni. The pancetta and onions flambéed in vodka infuse the sauce with extra flavour. If you are a flambé novice, you will soon get over your fear as this recipe is easy to make. The creamy tomato sauce works well with some spicy heat and you are in total control of how much chilli you wish to add to the dish.

Collage Tortiglioni

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