Pasta perfect

We’re heading into the final weeks of Winter. Soon we’ll be all salads and swimwear and yay-it’s-Spring. But for now, we’ll wrap up and open a bottle of excellent red wine and tuck into a rich, comforting bowl of pasta.

 

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Chorizo and gnocchi … a match made in pasta heaven

This baked chorizo gnocchi is jam-packed full of flavour. Serve it with a bottle of Fat Bastard Shiraz.

You’ll need: 1 Tbsp olive oil; 2 onions, finely sliced;150g spicy chorizo, skin removed & diced; 4 cloves of garlic, minced;1 small fresh chilli, finely diced; 2 tsp dried Italian herbs; 2 Tbsp tomato paste;1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes; 125ml fresh cream; 500g potato gnocchi; ¼ cup fresh basil, roughly torn; 300g Fior di latte mozzarella; salt and pepper, to taste; olive oil; fresh basil, to garnish.

To make: You can cook this dish in an ovenproof pan or shallow casserole from the beginning or else transfer everything to an ovenproof dish at the end to bake. Preheat oven to 200ºC.

Using a drizzle of olive oil, fry sliced onions and chorizo over a medium heat until soft and golden brown. Add the minced garlic, chilli and dried herbs and cook for two minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook it off for a few minutes until it turns a warm brick red colour and smells fragrant. Add the tinned tomatoes and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook according to package instructions. The gnocchi will be cooked once it starts floating on the surface. Do  not overcook.

Drain the gnocchi and add it to the tomato sauce along with the fresh basil and mix. Scatter over roughly torn pieces of the fresh mozzarella. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.

Garnish with fresh basil and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with crusty bread, a fresh green salad and a glass of Fat Bastard Shiraz.

 

Mac and cheese … given the luxe treatment with a touch of truffle

This truffle mac & cheese is comfort food taken to the next level. Forget week-night dinner with the kids, this would be great to dish up on the weekend for a dinner with good friends. Serve it with a bottle of Fat Bastard Merlot and you’re good to go!

You’ll need: 2 Tbsp butter; 2 medium leeks, sliced; 250g shiitake mushrooms, sliced; 1 Tbsp top quality truffle oil.

For the cheese sauce: 2 Tbsp butter; 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour; 2 ½ cups full-cream milk; ½ cup cheddar cheese, finely grated; ½ cup Huguenot / Havarti or similar cheese, finely grated; ½ cup Parmesan, finely grated; 1 tsp mustard powder; 1 tsp sea salt flakes; 300g short pasta of choice e.g. rigatoni or shells

For the topping: 2 Tbsp butter; ½ cup panko breadcrumbs; ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan; 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves; salt and pepper, to taste

To make: Preheat oven to 180°C.

Melt butter in a frying pan and add the leeks and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and golden brown. Pour over the truffle oil, stir and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Now for the sauce. You can make this béchamel in an ovenproof pan or shallow casserole from the beginning or else transfer everything to an ovenproof dish at the end to bake.

Melt the butter in a shallow buffet casserole over medium-high. When it begins to foam, sprinkle flour over and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter and flour mixture starts to smell like biscuits and takes on a lightly golden colour. Slowly drizzle in the milk, in a few additions, whisking constantly to ensure a smooth béchamel.

Bring béchamel sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Simmer for about five minutes until sauce thickens. Switch off the heat.

Add the mustard powder, salt and three types of cheese. Stir until all of the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.

Mix in the leek & mushroom mixture. And then finally mix in the pasta. Taste to adjust seasoning.

For the topping: Melt butter in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add panko and cook until the crumbs are nicely golden brown. Remove from the heat and toss with Parmesan, fresh thyme leaves and a little pinch of salt and pepper.

Scatter these breadcrumb topping all over the truffled mac & cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges and the topping is crisp and deeply golden brown.

Serve truffle mac & cheese with a fresh green side salad and a glass of Fat Bastard Merlot … with it’s deep ruby hue, the wine boasts aromas of ripe berries leading to a juicy palate of summer fruits and black cherry with soft, rounded tannins to finish.

 

Make like mama … making your own pasta is easy and rewarding – and it tastes so much nicer than the store bought version. This Imperia Italian SP150 Double Cutter Pasta Machine will have you dishing up fresh flat pasta, spaghetti and even lasagne in no time. R1599, and free delivery, from yuppiechef.com

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