Bucatini with vegetable bolognese, gnochetti with sausage, ribbon pasta with chicken livers: Phil Howard’s recipes for winter pasta
Gnocchetti with sausage, white wine, chilli, fennel and garlic
A wonderful, heartwarming bowl of pasta with comfort and familiarity coming from the sausage and just enough zing from the chilli and white wine to lift it.
Prep 15 minCook 1 hr 20 min Serves 4-6 as a main or starter
500g good sausagemeat1 tbsp olive oil30g unsalted butter100g shallots, peeled and finely chopped1 garlic clove, peeled and finely slicedSalt and black pepper¼ tsp chilli flakes½ tsp fennel seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar100ml dry white wine, such as pinot grigio100g celeriac, peeled and coarsely grated250ml chicken stock700g fresh gnocchetti (or other small fresh pasta such as orecchiette or conchiglie), or 300g dried gnocchettiGrated parmesan, to finish
Half an hour before you want to cook, take the sausagemeat out of the fridge, so it comes up to room temperature.
Put the oil in a large, shallow, heavy-based pan on a medium heat. Add the butter and sausagemeat, then cook, stirring continuously to smash and break up the sausage as much as possible. After about five minutes, once it has broken down into a mince-like consistency, add the shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and fennel seeds, turn down the heat a touch and cook, stirring frequently, for four or five minutes, until the shallots have softened and turned translucent; a bit of colour is fine, but keep the heat gentle to avoid scorching.
Pour in the wine, bubble until reduced by half, then stir in the celeriac and cook for five to 10 minutes, to soften. Add the stock, turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then cover, turn down to a bare simmer and leave to cook for an hour. Season again to taste. The sauce should taste of all its key ingredients – sausage, white wine, fennel and chilli. Keep warm while you cook the pasta (or leave to cool and reheat gently later).
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water as per the packet instructions then drain, reserving 150ml of the cooking water. Put the pasta and reserved water in the sauce pot, and cook, stirring and tossing, for a minute or two, until the sauce coats the pasta in a rich and glossy way; if you like, add an extra knob of butter to help things along. Transfer to warmed pasta bowls and serve topped with grated parmesan.
Bucatini with a bolognese of autumn vegetables, mushrooms and chestnuts
The combination of all the seasonal vegetables gives this a wonderful, deep, flavour that works so well at this time of year.
Prep 20 minCook 2 hr 30 minServes 4-6 as a main or starter
150g onions, peeled2 garlic cloves, peeled50g celeriac, peeled1 medium carrot (about 100g)1 medium parsnip (about 100g)1 small turnip (about 100g)1 medium beetroot (about 150g)200g peeled butternut squash75g chestnuts3 field mushrooms100ml olive oil2 tbsp vegetable oilSalt and black pepper500g tinned tomatoes (1¼ tins)1 bay leaf1 sprig fresh rosemary2 sage leaves1 pinch sugar (optional)700g fresh egg-free bucatini (or other tubular fresh pasta such as macaroni or penne), or 300g dried, egg-free bucatiniGrated vegan cheese or nutritional yeast, to finish (optional)
Finely dice the onion and grate the garlic, ideally on a microplane. The celeriac, carrot, parsnip, turnip, beetroot, squash, chestnuts and mushrooms are best coarsely minced in a meat mincer; if you don’t have one, finely grate them on a box grater or blend to a coarse puree in a food processor. The aim here is to end up with a rich sauce of ground vegetables bound in sauce, rather than finely chopped vegetables swimming in liquid.
Heat the oven to 140C (120C fan)/275F/gas 1. In a wide, shallow, heavy-based pan on a medium heat, sweat the onion and garlic in half the olive oil and all the vegetable oil, until soft, adding a good pinch of salt and some ground pepper. Add all the minced vegetables and another good pinch of salt, and cook on a high heat, stirring constantly, for a good seven to eight minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay, rosemary, sage leaves and a splash of water just to loosen, then bring to a boil. Cover, then cook in the low oven for two hours.
Stir in the remaining olive oil and check the seasoning; it may need a pinch of sugar. Keep warm while you cook the pasta (or leave to cool and reheat gently later).
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water as per the instructions, then drain, reserving 150ml of the cooking water. Add the pasta and cooking water to the sauce and cook, stirring and tossing, for a minute or two, until pasta and sauce become one.
Lift into warmed bowls and finish with vegan cheese or yeast flakes, if desired.
Ribbon pasta with chicken livers, bacon, red wine and parsley
This packs a mighty punch: big, bold flavours that lift the spirits on a cold day.
Prep 10-15 minCook 30 minServes 4-6 as a main or starter
125g unsalted butter, diced50g shallots, peeled and finely choppedSalt and black pepper1 garlic clove, smashed, peeled and finely chopped100g smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped200g chicken livers, finely chopped300ml full-bodied red wine250ml chicken stock2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley700g fresh reginette (or other long pasta such as pappardelle), or 300g dried reginette or pappardelleGrated parmesan, to finish
Melt 25g butter in a wide, shallow, heavy-based pan, add the shallots, a good pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, and sweat on a medium heat, stirring often, for about six minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and bacon, sweat for a couple of minutes, then stir in the livers, turn up the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for a good five to 10 minutes, until they have cooked through and released all their moisture – they will not colour, but it’s important to drive off any excess liquid. Cook until the pan looks dry, then add the red wine, turn up the heat and cook until it has almost all evaporated. Add the stock, cook until it has reduced by half, then check the seasoning and keep warm while you cook the pasta (or leave to cool and reheat gently later). The sauce should have big, bold flavours, predominantly of the livers, bacon and wine.
Just before you are ready to serve, add the remaining butter and parsley to the warm sauce, stir continuously until it is glossy and emulsified, then season to taste.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water as per the instructions, then drain, reserving 150ml of the cooking water. Add the pasta and reserved water to the sauce and cook, stirring and tossing vigorously, for a minute or two, until the sauce coats the pasta.
Transfer to warmed bowls and serve topped with grated parmesan.