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Posh pasta

Who says starchy noodles should be reserved for students? Pip Spence shows us why Italian cuisine is considered fine

Good-quality sausages are an essential ingredient for this dish
(Faith Mason)


Crispy sausage orecchiette

Good-quality sausages are already well seasoned, so you only need a few extra ingredients to make up a hearty supper. You can swap out the cavolo nero for Savoy cabbage or spinach, and the lentils for haricot or cannellini beans.

Serves 2

Takes 30 minutes

3 good-quality sausages
¼ tsp crushed chilli flakes, plus extra to serve
1 tsp fennel seeds
Grated zest of ½ lemon, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp olive oil
200g (7oz) dried orecchiette
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g (3½ oz) cavolo nero, leaves torn from the stalks and finely sliced
100g (3 oz) pre-cooked brown or green lentils
40g (1½ oz or 1⁄3 cup) sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained weight), chopped
150ml (5fl oz or 1⁄3 cup) hot chicken stock
Sea salt and black pepper

Squeeze the sausages out of their skins into a bowl and sprinkle over the chilli flakes, fennel seeds and lemon zest. Mix everything together and place to one side. Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. Put the oil in the frying pan and add the sausage mixture.

Fry, breaking it down with a wooden spoon into little pieces, for five to 10 minutes until crispy. Place on a plate and leave to one side. Cook the orecchiette in a large pan of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions. While the orecchiette is cooking, place the frying pan back on the hob (stovetop) and add the garlic.

Add the cavolo nero and stir fry for one to two minutes. Scatter over the lentils and sun-dried tomatoes and toss together. Pour in the hot stock. Drain the orecchiette, reserving a cupful of cooking water, and add to the pan with the sausage mixture.

Toss together, with a little of the reserved pasta water if needed, and season to taste. Spoon into serving bowls, grate over a little more lemon zest and sprinkle with extra chilli flakes.


Fresh, green open lasagne

This is a quick and simple way of making a lasagne-style dish without the baking. Perfect for a summer supper – and it looks like you’ve made a lot of effort.

Serves 2

Takes 30 minutes

100g (3½ oz/ or ½ cup) mascarpone
70g (2½ oz) soft goats’ cheese
40g (1½ oz) parmesan, freshly grated
20ml (4 tsp) milk & a little freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 shallots, sliced 70g (2½ oz) fine asparagus, stalks sliced and tips left whole
100g (3½ oz or 3/4 cup) fresh podded or frozen broad (fava) beans, skins removed
70g (2½ oz or ½ cup) fresh or frozen peas
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
4 fresh lasagne sheets
3 tbsp fresh basil or any green leaf pesto
Sea salt and black pepper

Put a small saucepan of water on a low heat and place a heatproof bowl on top. Get a large saucepan of salted water on to boil for the lasagne.

Spoon the mascarpone, goats’ cheese, parmesan and milk into the bowl over the pan of water. Stir and allow the cheeses to melt, then season with a little salt and pepper.

Remove the bowl from the heat and grate in some nutmeg. Place a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the oil and shallots and saute for five minutes until softened, then add the asparagus tips and sliced stalks, the broad (fava) beans and peas. Saute for a further two minutes, then add the lemon zest and juice, season and take off the heat.

Cook the lasagne in the pan of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions. Drain and place on a tray, then drizzle with olive oil.

Working quickly, get your serving plates ready. Place a spoon of cheese sauce on each plate. Drape a lasagne sheet over the sauce and spoon over some vegetables, then more sauce and a little pesto. Top with a lasagne sheet and finish with more sauce and pesto. Repeat with the other plate and serve.

Extracted from ‘Posh Pasta’ by Pip Spence (£12.99, Quadrille) Photography © Faith Mason