Try a yel­low rib­bon

I love the con­ve­nience and ver­sa­til­ity of pasta, and these four recipes sing in their sim­plic­ity and depth of flavour. With a gen­er­ous glug of olive oil and a dash of cit­rus, these com­fort­ing dishes add sump­tu­ous­ness to any din­ner ta­ble

The Guardian - Cook - - Anna Jones’s Winter Warmers - Anna Jones Anna Jones is a chef, writer and au­thor of A Mod­ern Way to Eat and A Mod­ern Way to Cook (Fourth Estate); an­na­jones.co.uk; @we_are_­food

Pasta is an un­ri­valled ve­hi­cle for flavour and sates the ap­petite what­ever the sea­son

There is no food I can evan­ge­lise about more than pasta. The tooth­some chew, a silky sauce that hugs each piece … It cooks in little more than 10 min­utes, it’s an un­ri­valled ve­hi­cle for flavour and it sates the ap­petite what­ever the sea­son (but most ex­cel­lently as the months grow colder).

As a young chef, I spent a lot of time in a kitchen that cham­pi­oned Ital­ian cui­sine, so my cook­ing is rooted in that tra­di­tion. There are five things I learned there about cook­ing pasta. For keen cooks, pasta en­thu­si­asts and Ital­ians, none of this will be new, and many will have their own ideas, but these are the things that work for me:

1 Wa­ter. Your cook­ing wa­ter should be salted like the sea, and there should be plenty of it – 1 litre for ev­ery 100g of pasta. Cru­cially, it should be at a rolling boil when you add your pasta be­cause the pasta will cool the wa­ter.

2 Al dente. Pasta con­tin­ues to cook in the hot sauce and even more as it sits on the plate. I cook mine to be a minute or so un­der exactly how I like it, just be­fore it hits al dente.

3 Re­serve a cup of cook­ing wa­ter. Be­fore you drain your pasta, keep back a cup of the wa­ter to add to the sauce later. The starch in it helps bring the pasta and sauce to­gether.

4 Mix. I al­ways add my pasta to the warm pan of sauce. I mix them to­gether with a wooden spoon or tongs, at which point I add some of the pasta wa­ter. I am not a fan of pasta and sauce served sep­a­rately. 5 Oil. Most of my sauces are veg­etable­based so I am gen­er­ous with the amount of olive oil I add (it’s not needed as much with sauces that con­tain dairy or meat). It adds flavour, a lush tex­ture and some rich­ness.

5 Slow-cooked leek pap­pardelle with crispy white beans and lemon Serves 4

4 large leeks

50g but­ter

Salt and black pep­per

400g tin of can­nellini beans, drained 400g pap­pardelle

A hand­ful of green olives, stoned and chopped

A few sprigs of basil

1 lemon

50g of pecorino, grated

1 Cut the leeks in half length­ways, then wash well un­der cold run­ning wa­ter. Cut way the root and then cut away the tough green top and then cut the leek in half, giv­ing you long lengths of leek not too dif­fer­ent to the pap­pardelle.

2 Heat the but­ter in a large fry­ing pan, add the leeks and put over a low heat. Cook gently un­til the leeks are soft, silky and cooked through. Sea­son well.

3 Pat your drained beans dry with kitchen pa­per and sea­son them well. Put an­other small fry­ing pan over a high heat, add some olive oil and, once it’s hot, add the beans. Cook for a few min­utes, stir­ring all the time un­til the beans are crisp on the out­side. Watch out as one or two may pop

and bounce out of the pan.

4 Once the leeks are cooked, bring a large pan of salted wa­ter to the boil and cook the pasta un­til it is al dente.

5 Mean­while, add the olives to the leeks and tear in most of the basil, add the zest of ½ the lemon and the juice of the whole lemon and heat gently.

6 Once the pasta is cooked, drain it (re­serv­ing a cup­ful of the cook­ing wa­ter) and add it to the pan with the leeks. Add a good grat­ing of pecorino and toss to­gether. Fin­ish with the last of the basil leaves and some shav­ings of pecorino.

6 One-pan kale, tomato and lemon zest spaghetti

Set a full ket­tle to boil. Put 400g spaghetti in a large pan for which you have a lid along with 400g halved cherry to­ma­toes, the zest of 2 lemons, 100ml olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Add 1 litre boil­ing wa­ter, cover and bring to the boil. Mean­while, trim 400g of kale and shred the leaves. As soon as the wa­ter is boil­ing, re­move the lid and sim­mer on high heat, turn­ing the pasta ev­ery 30 sec­onds. Af­ter 6 min­utes, add the kale and cook for a fi­nal 2 min­utes. Re­move from the heat, sit for 2 min­utes, then serve topped with grated parmesan.

7 Crisp gar­lic, broc­coli and blood or­ange pap­pardelle

Fry 4 thinly sliced gar­lic cloves in 2 tbsp olive oil un­til crisp – drain on kitchen pa­per, and re­serve the oil. When cooled, mix the oil with 150g creme fraiche and the zest and juice of 1 blood or­ange. Sea­son well. Cook 500g pap­pardelle, drain and re­serve a mug of the cook­ing wa­ter. Cook 400g pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli un­til it has lost its raw­ness but re­tains bite, then drain and mix into the pap­pardelle along with the creme fraiche mix­ture, adding a little pasta wa­ter at a time un­til you have a sub­tle pink creamy sauce. Serve with grated parmesan.

8 Bright-pink pasta

Peel and coarsely grate 300g raw beetroot, and fill and boil your ket­tle. Fry the beetroot in a driz­zle of oil, with 2 tbsp ca­pers for 7 min­utes, un­til there is no liq­uid left in the pan. Mean­while, cook 400g whole­wheat tagli­atelle to packet in­struc­tions re­serv­ing a mug of cook­ing wa­ter. Three min­utes be­fore it’s ready, put the pasta in the pan with the beetroot and 150ml of the cook­ing wa­ter and sim­mer over a high heat for a fur­ther 3 min­utes un­til all the wa­ter has evap­o­rated and the pasta is per­fectly cooked. Re­move from the heat and stir in a small bunch of chopped dill and the juice of a lemon. Fin­ish with a gen­er­ous glug of olive oil and sea­son to serve.

Cook’s tip In­stead of dry­ing the sea­soned beans, you could coat them in a little olive oil and roast them at 200C/400F/ gas 6 for about 10 min­utes, if you pre­fer.

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