Antonio Carluccio’s Pennoni Gardiniera
It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Antonio Carluccio last week. An unstoppable force in the world of food, integral to bringing good Italian food to us in the UK, we have a lot to thank him for. What Antonio didn’t know about Italian food wasn’t really worth knowing. I was so lucky to have worked and cooked with him many time.
He was forever trying to persuade me try weird and wonderful foods, regularly offering me intenstines, tripe, fermented fish (I passed on these, all a pretty hard sell for a vegetarian) as well as his perfectly rolled pasta or mushrooms straight from his last trip to the woods.
Antonio had such an infectious and total passion for what he was cooking and making, he wanted everyone to share that. To share in what he loved. I learnt a lot from him about how to roll pasta, different ways with mushrooms and vegetables, how pasta and Italian food changes from region to region and town to town. I was lucky enough to work with him and Gennaro Contaldo too and see them make fun of each other and lark around like a couple of school boys was a total joy.
I must have cooked more then 300 recipes with Antonio over the time I worked with him, this is hands down my favourite from his book on Pasta, I make it regularly, it a brilliant vegetarian pasta dish. Clever little spinach polpette and toothsome pasta, so hard to beat.
Thank you Antonio for the warmth, inspiration, knowledge and the brilliant food you brought to the world. I hope you are fuelling up on pasta somewhere before your next adventure. I for one will think of you every time I eat a bowl of pasta. Buon viaggio.
PENONNONI GARDINIERA from Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta
300g dried giant penne pasta, known as pennoni
salt and pepper, to taste
40g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
600g young spinach leaves
2 medium eggs, beaten
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
tip of a knife of freshly grated nutmeg
50g fresh breadcrumbs
20g Parmesan, freshly grated
olive oil for shallow-frying
FOR THE SAUCE:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 little fresh red chilli, not too hot, finely chopped
300g grated courgette
Prepare the spinach balls first by cooking the spinach leaves in salted water for a few minutes. Scoop out and leave to cool down. When cool, squeeze out most of the moisture and chop the leaves with a knife, but not too small. Then mix in a bowl with the egg, garlic, nutmeg, breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Make some balls the size of a large walnut and fry in shallow oil until they start to brown on all sides. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 12-15 minutes or until al dente. Drain. (Pennoni are large, so need long cooking.)
Meanwhile, for the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the garlic, chilli and courgette to the pan. Cook quickly in the oil, about 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the cooked pasta into the sauce, then divide between warmed plates. Sprinkle the top of each portion with Parmesan and place four or five spinach balls on top.
You could use paccheri or rigatoni instead of the pennoni.
Images: Laura Edwards
Recipe taken from: Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta