Herbs and greens pasta sauce

Ingredients for two

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • one shallot chopped
  • two cloves garlic chopped
  • a couple of good slugs of dry white wine
  • a good sized zucchini chopped
  • a couple of tablespoons pine nuts dry roasted to a light brown
  • flat leafed parsley, perhaps one cup of leaves
  • maybe half a cup or more of pouring cream
  • chopped green rounds from spring onions
  • chopped chives, maybe half a bunch
  • parmesan grated for the table


While the pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan fry the shallots and garlic in the butter until softened. Add the wine and boil until the alcohol is burned off. Add the zucchini and cook at a lively pace, saucepan covered, until the zucchini is soft. Add the cream, pine nuts and parsley. Puree. I continued to add parsley until there was a noticeable green fleck to the sauce.

Keep warm on a very low temperature, season with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, stir in the chives and spring onion rounds leaving a handful for decoration. Put drained spaghetti in bowls, add the sauce, mix thoroughly and then sprinkle the green rounds on top.

Parmesan and more pepper are required at the table.

I think when I try this again I will use at least double the zucchini and less cream. I would also like to try vodka rather than the wine, which I thought was a bit sweet. Not clear to me that the pine nuts added to this.


Parsley pesto

The simplest version, made for two.

  • olive oil
  • parsley including stalks – 1.5 bunches for two people – roughly chopped
  • maybe half a cup of pine nuts toasted
  • perhaps a cup of grated parmesan
  • one clove of garlic finely chopped

I layer these in a mixing cup: olive oil, parsley, a little of the garlic, some nuts, parsley, garlic, nuts, olive oil. Mash with a stick blender.

Add several dessert spoons of the pasta stock and then the cheese. Decide whether you’d like more liquid. I put in maybe half a dozen spoonfuls, but it will depend on your preferred consistency and how much olive oil you began with.

Put drained pasta in bowls, add a few spoonfuls of the pesto. Extra cheese and fresh pepper to be added as desired.

At the point of adding stock and parmesan, this simple combination is remarkably sweet. There are many things I might consider adding; for a start salted capers, anchovies, chillies, lemon are all on the table.


Risotto with asparagus and saffron

We have a ton of saffron in the cupboard right now and I’ve been meaning to use some of it so I threw it in with a few other things from the cupboard.

The photo: in your imagination is a beautiful plate of a gorgeous yellow risotto with the contrasting green of the asparagus, the heads peeping out and piled on top. Well done, you’ve taken a lovely picture as usual.

Ingredients for two

1 cup risotto rice
simmering stock in a pan on heat, I used chicken
olive oil
finely chopped garlic
finely chopped small onion
a bunch of asparagus, trimmed, stalk diced, heads left whole
a bunch of parsley chopped
saffron – I used about half a teasp
grated parmesan


In a saucepan fry the garlic and onion gently in olive oil. Add the rice and stir until well coated. Add a generous amount of the stock to well cover the rice and also add the saffron. It should gently simmer. Stir occasionally.

Do your usual risotto routine here. Near the end of the rice cooking period, when you are about to put in the last couple of tablespoons of stock you still think it needs, also add the asparagus, bring to boil (the asparagus will have cooled it down), then turn down to med-low, and put a lid on it. Check it isn’t sticking and stir a couple of times over the next 5 minutes. You should have asparagus which is still quite crunchy.

Add the parsley, thoroughly stir in, then the cheese. Put the lid back on, turn off the heat, let it sit for a few moments.

Serve with black pepper (of course).