When it comes to winter comfort food, nothing beats a cosy night in with a big dish of delicious pasta and if anyone knows good pasta, it’s the Italians. We were thrilled when Italian cooking legend Gennaro Contaldo offered to share a few of his favourite winter pasta recipes with us. Enjoy!
maltagliati con cannellini e olive
fresh pasta strips with cannellini beans and olives
“I love cannellini beans, especially the dried beans that need to be soaked overnight. Once the beans are soaked, this dish is really easy to make, and the beans and prosciutto give a wonderful aroma as they cook together. The addition of fresh crunchy celery, olives and tomatoes makes this fresher and lighter than a typical pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) dish. This dish is delicious served the next day and can also be enjoyed cold.”
300g / 10 ½ oz /1 ½ cups dried cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight
200g / 7oz piece of prosciutto, cubed
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
20 green olives, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
300g / 10 ½ oz fresh pappardelle, roughly chopped into 10cm / 4-inch long strips
30g / 1 oz Parmesan, grated, plus extra, shaved, to serve
A small handful of basil leaves, torn if large
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the beans and put them in a large saucepan with the prosciutto; add 2 litres / 3 ½ pints / 2 quarts cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover with a lid and cook on a very low heat for 1 hour, or until the beans are tender but not falling apart.
Combine the celery, olives, tomatoes, rosemary, garlic and olive oil and add to the beans. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and add the pasta, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmesan and basil, taste for seasoning and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with black pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few Parmesan shavings.
lasagne con ragù di verdure
lasagne with slow-cooked vegetable ragù
“This is a lighter version of the classic lasagne, with vegetables replacing the meat Bolognese ragù. The vegetables are cooked on a very low heat so they do not go mushy and the flavours infuse well.”
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 leek, finely sliced
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 turnip, finely sliced
150g / 5 ½ oz pumpkin, cubed
85g / 3oz mushrooms, sliced
100g / 3 ½ curly endive, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 sprig marjoram
1 sprig thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp canned chopped tomatoes
250ml / 9fl oz / 1 cup vegetable stock
(see page 32) or use a stock cube
Butter, to grease and finish
8-10 fresh lasagne sheets
100g /3 ½ oz Parmesan, grated
For the white sauce
40g / 1 ½ oz / 3tbsp butter
40g / 1 ½ oz / 5tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
500ml / 18fl oz / 2 cups full-fat milk
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the shallot and leek and sweat on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, turnip, pumpkin, mushrooms, endive, garlic, herbs and black pepper. Stir in the tomatoes and stock, reduce the heat to minimum, then cover with a lid and cook for 1 ½ hours, stirring from time to time.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 400˚F / gas mark 6. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, remove from the heat and whisk in the flour very quickly to avoid lumps, then gradually add the milk, whisking well. Return to the heat and cook on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, whisking all the time until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in some salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Grease an ovenproof dish, about 20 x 25cm / 8 x 10 inches, with butter and spread a little of the white sauce on the bottom. Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets on top, followed by some vegetable ragù, a little white sauce, and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Continue making layers like this until you have used all the ingredients, ending with white sauce and grated Parmesan. Top with small knobs of butter. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes to brown the top. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
You can find more delicious recipes just like these in Gennaro Contaldo’s cookbook Gennaro: Slow Cook Italian, which is available in selected stores and online.