There is no better time than now to bang the drum for Italy’s national dish.

From Spaghetti Bolognese to Macaroni Cheese to penne with a dollop of humble pesto, you know we love pasta in Britain, right? But did you – could you possibly have guessed – that, as a country, we spent £450 million on dry pasta in 2018? Well, according to reliable research, we did.

As the appalling COVID-19 pandemic brings Italy to a standstill, there has never been a better time to celebrate the country’s most versatile of staple ingredients. So, whether we are trying to be vegan, staying off the carbs or concerned that our tastes are too carnivorous, let’s put aside our neuroses for now. Let’s give a warm welcome to dairy, meat and gluten. Let’s enjoy the God-given delights of the best pasta dishes out there. (If you can find any pasta in the supermarket once the stockpiling worried well have been in, that is).

Here, we’ve rustled up seven remarkable recipes that’ll have you yelping ‘buonissimo’ at first bite.

Tagliatelle with Lemon and Rocket

River Cafe


When the River Café threw open its inimitable doors in 1987, it arguably changed Britain’s relationship with pasta forever. The critically acclaimed restaurant in Hammersmith – which has, happily, inspired hundreds of others – taught us just how refined and special pasta could be. Several, excellent, spin-off cookbooks have allowed us to bring a little of the River Café’s magic into our own homes.



Check out the YouTube video that demonstrates its recipe for Tagliatelle with Lemon and Rocket. Is your mouth watering yet?

Tagliarini with Crab, Chilli and Lemon

Padella


Inspired by countless trips to Italy, restaurateurs Jordan Frieda and Tim Siadatan dreamed for a long time of setting up a pasta bar that would bring exquisite hand-rolled pasta to London’s masses. Padella, with its stylish branches in Borough and Shoreditch, is the culmination of that dream. There is a great cookbook, Trullo (named after Padella’s divine sister restaurant in Highbury), which will teach you many of the duo’s secrets. But, until you get your hands on a copy, don’t miss Padella’s recipe for Tagliarini with Crab, Chilli and Lemon, which featured in the Evening Standard last month.


Courgette Carbonara

Rachel Roddy


Based in Rome, Rachel Roddy is an award-winning food writer with a brilliant blog. Incorporating seasonal ingredients into everyday dishes, her weekly recipe column in The Guardian, A Kitchen in Rome, energises many a weary home cook. Later this year, she is going to publish a new book called The A-Z of Pasta. Try her Courgette Carbonara for a beautiful taste of what’s to come.


Mackerel and Fennel Spaghetti

Thomasina Miers


She won Masterchef in 2005. She co-founded the Mexican street-food chain Wahaca in 2007. She’s made two series of cookery programmes for TV and written five books. There is very little that Tommi Miers, who lives in west London with her husband and three children, cannot do. Once you’ve tried her Mackerel and Fennel Spaghetti, she’ll have a firm place in your heart, if she doesn’t already. The high priest of cooking, Yotam Ottolenghi, says: ‘Thomasina shows how you can build vibrant and exciting meals into the course of life’s mad pace.’


Kale, Tomato and Lemon Zest One Pot Spaghetti

Anna Jones


Achingly trendy and awesomely talented, Anna Jones is a food writer, stylist and author of pretty cookbooks whose focus is firmly on vegetables. The ‘queen of greens’ learned much of her trade on Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprenticeship programme. Across the team at the Good Web Guide, we’ve sampled pretty much all of her recipes and cannot fault them. Her recipe for Kale, Tomato and Lemon Zest One Pot Spaghetti wins major points for its simple method and unforgettable flavor.


Mussel, Fennel and Tomato Spaghetti

Stevie Parle


Stevie Parle was just 24 when he opened his first restaurant, The Dock Kitchen, in 2009. Having worked in restaurants like The River Café and Petersham Nurseries before that, he sure knew his onions. In 2017, he opened Pastaio, a fresh pasta joint in Soho (a second site has just opened at Westfield). Parle’s mission is to help get as many people as possible into high-quality fresh pasta. If anything will convince naysayers of pasta’s merits, his Mussel, Fennel and Tomato Spaghetti with Pangrattato will.


Pasta, Roast Chicken and Cream

Nigel Slater


Everything Nigel Slater does, he does beautifully. Which is why a visit to his website is a pleasure, whether you intend to use a recipe from it or not. Because this man truly understands taste and luxury in food, he knows how to make a pasta sauce sing. When you need comfort, warmth and a massive treat, cook his Pasta, Roast Chicken and Cream and thank us later.


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March 2020
By Becky Ladenburg

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

Becky is our Features Editor.

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