Pasta and Rice

For creamy pasta dishes with either salmon or fish we suggest a Bordeaux Blanc – they often pair well with cream sauces and soft cheeses.  With rice dishes, whether they are spicy or not a Rosé would be good – Rosé, Sparkling Wine and Champagne even pair well with curry!  Tomato based pasta dishes containing meat need a  Red Wine that will cope with the tomato’s acidity and sweetness such as a Rhone or Pays de Gard.  As basil is a major ingredient in some pastas we recommend a 100% Merlot or trying a Claret with a high proportion of Merlot in the blend which which will complement the pungent sweet scent of the Basil nicely.

Fettuccine with Lobster (Pantelleria Style)
2 Lobsters, steamed and cooled
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp capers
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp crushed chilli pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb fettuccine

Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Crack lobster shells and remove meat. Cut tail into 1/2-inch slices.

Cut claws into 3 pieces. In a blender, mix mint, basil, parsley, garlic, capers, tomatoes, black and chilli pepper and olive oil to form smooth paste. If needed, add a little more olive oil. Pour pesto into large serving bowl.

Cook fettuccine according to package instructions until al dente. Add lobster into the pasta cooking water for 1 minute. Drain well. Pour hot pasta and lobster into the bowl and toss like a salad until well mixed and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped parsley leaves.

Smoked Salmon Tagliatelle
300 g tagliatelle
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 ml cream
200 g smoked salmon, cut into small strips
8 fresh chives, snipped
lengths of fresh chives to garnish

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the cream gently in a small saucepan. Season sparingly with salt. Drain the pasta, tip into a serving dish and add the salmon and cream. Toss to mix. Grind over some pepper, sprinkle with the chives and serve at once with some lengths of chives for garnish.

Macaronade aux Brageoles (Macaroni and Steak Rolls)
Macaronade is a traditional speciality of the fishing port of Sète in Herault in Languedoc-Roussillon which is washed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Thau lagoon. Macaronade consists of macaroni and brageoles (rolls of meat, typically chuck steak, seasoned inside with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper). The brageole is also a speciality of Sicilian family cooking, always based meat roll, but with cheese melted inside. The dish was imported to Sète by Italian fishermen in the 18th from Naples.

600g of macaroni
6 thinly sliced pieces of steak
300g sausage meat
500g of bacon (chopped into pieces)
500g pork chop (cut into small pieces)
1 small can of tomato purée
½ litre of red wine
2 diced onions
10 garlic cloves, chopped very fine
1 bunch of parsley
1 whole onion
6 tooth picks
10 cloves
150g of Roma cheese
150g of Parmesan
Pinch of black pepper

A good “Macaronade” is cooked for a very long time. To make the “brageoles” put the slices of steak on a work surface and stuff each of them with a bit of chopped bacon, a bit of chopped garlic, and some parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Roll the brageoles up and close with a toothpick.

For the sauce, brown the brageoles on high heat, with the pork chops and the sausage. When the meat has browned, remove it carefully. Put the onions and the rest of the garlic in the pan. Stir and add the tomato paste. Let the paste cook for one minute and add the red wine. Stir again. Add the water and the whole onion studded with the cloves. Add the meat, except for the sausage and cook for 10 more minutes. When the meat is almost done, add the sausage and cook for ten more minutes.

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until they are al dente. Mix the cheeses together with a pinch of black pepper. Mix together the pasta with the sauce, and put the meat on top. Sprinkle with the mixture of grated cheeses.

Tigullio Chicken
4 chicken breasts
chicken stock
40g butter
extra virgin olive oil
1 glass of dry white wine
6 tsp spoons of pesto (preferably home made – see above)
salt and pepper

Flour the meat. In a pan heat up the olive oil and butter then add the meat. Brown the chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the white wine.

Lower the heat, add the stock to just cover the chicken and allow to cook for 50 mins. When the meat is done place the chicken on a serving plate and cover it with the pesto sauce. Serve with pasta.

Spiced Pilaf (Ic Pilav)
One of the earliest references to Pilaf is in the histories of Alexander the Great when describing Bactrian hospitality (Bactria was an ancient Persian province).

It’s certainly a very old dish and there are lots of different regional variations (pilav in the Middle East, plov in Central Asia and pilau in the Indian subcontinent). The rice in the dish should be fluffy and not sticky, the idea being that the grains should remain separate. The Turkish recipe that I have for Spiced Pilaf suggests that Baldo Rice is the best to use. Baldo Rice is a thick, short grained rice that keeps its shape at high cooking temperatures. You can buy it online in the UK but I use Basmati Rice as a replacement and that works very well.

Spiced Pilaf (Ic Pilav)

Serves 10

4 cups Baldo Rice (alternatively use Basmati Rice)
4 tbsp pine nuts
4 tbsp currants
250g chicken (or lambs) liver
1 onion
200g butter
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
5 meat stock
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch dill

Place the rice in a bowl and cover with hot water. Add the salt and stand for 30 mins. Rinse in cold water several times and drain.

Peel and dice the onion. Soak the currants in warm water until they swell, then drain. Finely chop the liver into very small pieces. Melt the butter in a pan and stir the pine nuts over the heat until lightly coloured. Add the diced onion and the liver. Add the rice and stir over the heat for a few minutes. Add the currants, pepper and allspice.

Heat the meat stock up to boiling point in a separate pan and then add to your rice mixture along with the sugar. Cover and bring to a boil over a high heat. Then cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. When the liquid has evaporated and steam holes appear in the surface of the rice, remove from the heat. Stand for 10 – 15 minutes. Chop the dill finely and sprinkle over the dish. Stir and serve.

Jamablaya is a Louisiana Creole dish which is a New World version of the Old world dish paella. Creole Jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. In modern Louisiana, the dish has evolved along a variety of different lines. Creole Jambalaya, or Red Jambalaya as it is called by Cajuns, is found primarily in and around New Orleans, where it is simply known as “Jambalaya.” Creole Jambalaya includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun Jambalaya does not.

The origin of the name Jambalaya has many myths, one is that the word derives from the combination of the French jambon meaning ham, à la meaning in the style of, and ya, thought to be of West African origin meaning rice. Another popular (and more likely source) suggests that the word comes from the Spanish jamon and paella. The one I like most of all is the story that late one evening a travelling gentleman stopped by a New Orleans inn which had little food remaining from the evening meal. The traveller instructed the cook, Jean, balayez! or Jean, sweep something together! in the local dialect. The guest pronounced the resulting hodge-podge dish as “Jean balayez.”

This recipe uses Creole Seasoning – if you haven’t got any then you can make your own from the contents of your cupboard:

Creole Seasoning

5 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper


1 tbsp olive oil
10 oz boneless chicken pieces, cut into strips
½ lb spicy sausage, sliced (eg chorizo)
6 oz prawns
2 tsp Creole seasoning
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 cup long grain white rice
1 lb crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Heat oil in a Pressure Cooker over medium high heat. Add chicken, sausage and prawns. Season with half the Creole seasoning. Cook 3-4 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked throughout. Remove chicken, sausage and shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and remaining Creole seasoning. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until vegetables soften. Add rice, tomatoes with their juice and stock. Secure cover and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat and cook 8 minutes at stabilized pressure. Release pressure stir in chicken, sausage, shrimp and parsley. Cover tightly and let stand 5 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne to taste.

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