TEN FAVOURITE VEGETARIAN PASTAS
This week is Meat Free Week here in the UK, an initiative born in Australia which is challenging everyone to give up meat and be a bit more conscious about what they put into their bodies for the week.
When I gave up eating meat seven years ago everything changed. I felt lighter, brighter and more energised and it suits me down to the ground. It also made me look at food and cooking in a totally different way – I explored flavour and texture and what I cooked was more led by the season and my mood than what piece of protein was going to be in the middle of my plate.
I know making one positive change like this can have a massive impact on your life so I am really proud to be an official supporter of Meat Free Week. This is an important cause that we all need to embrace on a weekly basis, but this initiative is a good place to start. I am excited that lots of people will be experiencing for the first time how amazing it can be to eat a plant-based, joyful diet of a rainbow of fruit and veg. Check out the MFW site for some of my recipes and ideas from other amazing chefs and friends around the world.
To celebrate, I am going to share an amazing new recipe every day this week along with a selection of my favourite vegetarian recipes from friends and chefs. Starting off the week is this quick, easy and comforting Monday night bowl of pasta and my ten favourite ever pasta recipes.
This roasted tomato and ricotta rigatoni is all all round winner. The sauce is cooked twice – once in the oven, and once on the hob. The result is a silky sweet tomato sauce that clings to the the pasta, with some fresh yet salty ricotta salata to top things off.
I make this with regular pasta as well as gluten free pasta for days when I want something lighter. My favourite is a chickpea pasta (Del Ugo make a good one) or a good gluten free pasta (I like the Dove Farm corn).
ROASTED TOMATO RIGATONI
1.5kg ripe tomatoes on the vine
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 bay leaves
5 thyme sprigs
A tiny splash of red wine vinegar
400g dried rigatoni
80g ricotta salata (check for a vegetarian one)
A small bunch of basil, leaves picked
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
Put the tomatoes on a large baking tray, and season. Scatter over the garlic cloves, thyme sprigs and bay leaves then transfer to the oven and roast for 25 minutes, until the tomato skins are burnished and split.
Let the tomatoes cool for a minute or two, then pull them off the vines and place in a frying pan with the red wine vinegar and a pinch more salt and pepper. Squash with a spoon and simmer for 15 minutes, until you have a thick, strawberry-red sauce with an almost creamy consistency.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni according to the packet instructions. Drain, reserving a cupful of cooking water, and add to the sauce with a little of the water to loosen.
Drizzle over a good glug of olive oil and serve with grated ricotta and a scattering of basil leaves, if you like.
Here are my favourite vegetarian pasta recipes from some friends and chefs I love;
This healthier mac and cheese from Sarah Britton of My New Roots
This indulgent mac and cheese from my old boss which I knocked up with him on a shoot in New York
My favourite avocado pasta from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’
Nigel Slater’s stupidly simple Orecciette with cheese and artichokes
The wonderful Sara Forte’s pasta with fennel, rocket and lemon
This yoghurt, chili and pea pasta from theyearinfood.com
My favourite tomato pasta from the queen of food Alice Waters
This springtime nettle pasta from the ever brilliant Heidi Swanson
And another killer one from Nigel, baked aubergines and pasta.