Dinner al dente: Skye Gyngell's perfect pasta

Home-made or dried, nothing beats a warming bowl of pasta – especially with the toppings Skye Gyngell has in store...

Pasta almost always satisfies me – I often eat it at home after a long day at work when I need to be enveloped in something comforting.

At work, we make pasta almost every day in many different guises – from agnolotti filled with ricotta, dried chilli and sage to plump papardelle made with nothing more than a simple sauce of ripe tomatoes.

Pasta is a lovely thing to make – watching it take its form is quite mesmerising and rolling it out with a pasta-maker makes the process easy. If you have neither the time nor patience to make your own, look for good-quality dried pasta. I steer clear of what supermarkets call fresh pasta, as its taste is often heavy and its texture too soft.

I'd suggest you allow 150g/5oz of pasta per person, unless you are very hungry.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, www.petershamnurseries.com

Tagliatelle with cavolo nero

Cavolo nero or black cabbage is one of my favourite winter vegetables – but it does need attention to flavouring, so as not to taste too monotonous. Here I have puréed half and seasoned it with anchovies, butter and Parmesan before folding it through long strips of cooked cabbage to create a wonderful green sauce that wraps itself seductively around the pasta.

Serves 4

1 bunch of cavolo nero
A good pinch of sea salt
40g/11/2oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp grassy flavoured extra-virgin olive oil
3 good-quality anchovies, such as Ortiz
3 cloves of garlic
75g/3oz grated Parmesan

Rinse the cabbage well to remove any dirt. Strip the dark fibrous leaves from their stalks and discard the stalks. Boil a large pot of well-salted water, plunge in the leaves and cook for five minutes. Remove and drain. Separate the cooked cabbage in half. Place one half in a bowl and the other in a food processor along with the butter, oil, anchovies, garlic and Parmesan and purée until smooth. Remove and spoon into the bowl, stirring well through the cooked cabbage. Serve with tagliatelle.

Papardelle with oxtail ragu

This robust and rich pasta dish is quite perfect to eat after a long winter's day. I love pasta sauces that can turn a simple dish into a meal worthy to eat on its own – and this is most definitely one of those. Warm crusty bread is all that is needed as an accompaniment to mop up the last of this most delicious meal.

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped fairy finely
1 stick of celery, chopped
3 fresh bay leaves
1 bunch of sage
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1kg/2lb oxtail
30g/1oz good-quality, chopped tinned tomatoes
700ml/231/2fl oz red wine

Pour the olive oil into a heavy-based pan large enough to hold all the ingredients and place over a low heat. When the oil is warm, add the carrots and celery, bay leaves, sage and garlic and sweat for 15 minutes. The vegetables should be on their way to being quite soft.

Season the oxtail well all over and add to the vegetables along with the tomatoes and wine, and turn the heat up to medium. Place a lid on the pan and bring to a boil, then immediately turn down and cook gently for three hours, by which time the meat will be falling off the bone and the sauce will be glossy and rich.

Remove the meat from the pan and, when it's cool enough to handle, pick off any meat that is still attached to the bone. Discard the bone and return the meat to the pan, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

This sauce can be made up to two days ahead of when you would like to serve it. I suggest thick, flat papardelle.

Pasta con le sarde

The essence of this dish is very southern Italian, hailing primarily from Sicily. It combines the lovely contrasting flavours of sweet and sour – and the sardines give it an undeniable taste of the sea. Bucatini, the thick hollow spaghetti, is traditional, but any long pasta will work.

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
4 very fresh sardines. Ask your fishmonger to fillet them for you
Salt and pepper
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
50g/2oz sultanas
50g/2oz pine nuts, warmed gently in the oven for a couple of minutes
A few drops of lemon juice
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped

Place a large pot of water on to boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. While the pasta is cooking, place a non-stick pan on the stove and add half the olive oil.

Season the sardines with salt and pepper and, when the oil is hot, lay the sardines in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for two minutes without turning – the skin should be golden and crisp. Add the chilli, garlic, pine nuts and sultanas and cook for a further minute, then add the parsley, the rest of the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Taste and add a little more salt if necessary – it will not need any pepper due to the chilli. Serve when still piping hot, tossed through the cooked pasta.

Suggested Topics
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Boxer Amir Khan will travel to Pakistan in bid to 'make a difference' in the wake of army school massacre
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture