Last week I was on the hunt for a recipe that would feed a crowd, more specifically, a group of my lovely girlfriends who were getting together to help me celebrate my birthday. As is now the trend, we were all asked to bring something for the table and had decided on an Italian-themed evening.
I had also been looking for Italian-esque inspiration for the next instalment of Forever Nigella over at Maison Cupcake (this month’s theme is ‘Ciao Italia’). Since I’ve enjoyed all the recipes I have tried from it so far, I turned to Nigella’s latest book ‘Kitchen’ to see what I could find.
Statistics tell us that most people cook, on average, two recipes from each cookbook they buy. I am up to number five now in the case of Nigella’s latest book and so I think it can now be placed in the ‘good value for money category!’ I’ve also got my eye on her lemon polenta cake as an Easter treat…which will take me up to mumber six.
Flicking through, I came across a recipe for ‘Pappardelle with butternut and blue cheese’ which, Nigella states, is “perfect for feeding friends cosily rather than assaulting them with a panoply of courses”. Spot on then, for my brief.
Nigella’s recipe incorporates blue cheese, she suggests Saint Agur, but she also says that you can leave out the blue cheese if you want. Whilst I would have quite liked some blue cheese, I had found some gorgeous Italian ‘Taleggio’ cheese in my local Italian deli, (which is almost like French Brie in its taste and texture) and I thought it would melt in nicely and stand up well to the sweetness of the butternut squash and marsala wine.
I also skipped the paprika, owing to my allergy, and couldn’t find any fresh sage anywhere so used parsley. This was enough of a prompt for me to go and plant some seeds to grow my own! I also used vegetable stock rather than water and added a grating of nutmeg.
The dish seemed to go down well with the girls and it went really well with everything else on the table, two further pasta dishes, goat’s cheese crostini, salads, nibbles, wine and a very large tiramisu. A very special thank you goes to Chris for hosting and to all the ladies who very kindly bought me a pair of running shoes for my birthday…a little hint perhaps that I have been eating too much pasta!!! I had made so much of it that there was plenty for the next day and the day after. The children enjoyed it too and the following day I added a splash of cream (which also worked very well) since my kids like their food quite saucy.
Here’s the recipe:
Pappardelle with Butternut and Tallegio
Inspired by a recipe from Kitchen: Recipes from the heart of the home by Nigella Lawson
1 large butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded and cubed) or 1kg/4 packets ready cubed
2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
A knob of butter
50 ml marsala
125 ml vegetable stock
100 g pine nuts
500 g pappardelle pasta
A handful of parsley, chopped
125 g Tallegio (Italian cheese)
A grating of nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
Method1. Fry the onion in a pan with the oil on a low heat until soft and golden.
2. Add the butter and the cubed butternut squash and stir well until coated.
3. Add the marsala and vegetable stock, a pinch of salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg.
4. Allow the liquid to boil then cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the butternut squash is soft.
5. Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta and add lots of salt (about two teaspoons full). Once it is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions (one or two minutes less for al dente)
6. Toast your pine nuts in a separate dry pan (keep an eye on them, they only need a minute or so on the pan) then leave to cool.
7. Once the butternut squash is cooked, add some of the chopped parsley to the butternut squash and leave some for the top.
8. Once the pasta is cooked, drain (save some of the water it had cooked in) and mix in your cooked butternut squash and all the liquid. Tip it into a big pasta dish. Add some of the cooking water back to the pasta to help coat all the pasta.
9. Break up the cheese into chunks and crumble over the top. Sprinkle the top of your dish with pine nuts and parsley.