Monday, 12 November 2012

Pea, mint and almond tortellini with black pudding, crispy bacon and peashoots

Another day, another pasta recipe... I really am addicted to pasta, and could make and eat every day of the week. In this country is has a stereotypical association with stodgy student food, but it is so much more than that! With a little thought, you can make a lovely pasta dish out of pretty much anything that you’ve got in the fridge; and that’s exactly what I did with this recipe. 

Normally I leave making fresh pasta for weekends, or when I have a bit of time to cook something nice. It’s something that I like not to rush, and although with a bit of practice it’s quick to make, I find that taking my time with it makes the whole process lovely and therapeutic. On this occasion, I had made a batch of pasta a week before for a dinner party, and froze the cricket ball sized leftover dough. I didn’t really have a plan for it at the time, but it was too good to waste and definitely came in handy. All I had to do was take it out of the freezer the night before and it was all ready to roll out when I got home from work. 

I fancied making filled pasta again, and what I had in my fridge and freezer left me in no doubt as to what I wanted to put in it (or basically that was all I had in so had very little choice...). I had some peas in the freezer, and some bits left over from a previous breakfast and thought that they 
 go well together. Peas with bacon or black pudding is quite a classic combination with things like scallops or liver, so I was sure that it would work here too. Perhaps unsurprisingly it did, with the fresh and zesty peas contrasting beautifully with the salty bacon and the earthy black pudding. 

The best thing about it is that it is so easy to put together, and if you already have the pasta dough made then it’s so quick. Perfect for that night after work where you fancy something tasty but can’t really be bothered. For vegetarians, the basis of this recipe can remain the same, but the bacon and black pudding can be substituted with a nice tangy hard goat's cheese.

Serves 2


For the pasta:

200g 00 Flour
2 medium eggs
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the filling:

250g frozen peas
125g good ricotta cheese
1/2 bunch mint leaves
2 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and pepper

For the butter sauce: 

80g butter
3 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
Salt and pepper

To finish:

6 slices of black pudding 
1 handful peashoots
1 tbsp finely grated parmesan

First make the tortellini filling. Saute the spring onion and garlic until softened and add to a food processor with the ricotta, mint, ground almonds, parmesan, lemon juice and seasoning. Heat up a small saucepan of water until boiling and add the peas. Cook for a couple of minutes until tender and sweet before draining. Run the peas under cold water to stop the cooking and leave to dry off for a couple of minutes (tipping onto kitchen paper speeds this up). Add most of the peas to the food processor and blitz everything together until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and lemon, then stir in the few remaining peas for a bit of texture. Set aside until you are ready to fill the pasta.

Now make the pasta. Put the flour, eggs and a good pinch of salt in a food processor, and blitz until the mix looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Tip everything out onto a floured surface and knead together until the dough has an elastic texture but is not sticky. Knead in a little flour if necessary. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour to rest.

After half an hour, remove the pasta dough from the fridge. Using your pasta machine, roll the dough until it goes through the thinnest setting and you have a long, almost translucent sheet. Cut the pasta into 4” squares on a well floured surface, and spoon a large tablespoon of the filling into the middle of each square. Brush a small amount of water onto one half of the pasta sheet, and carefully fold diagonally to form a triangle with the pocket of filling sealed in. As you fold, push out any air that is trapped inside. Using a pastry cutter, cut around the folded triangles to make little neat semicircles. Holding one semicircle in one hand, gently form a dimple in the middle with your thumb and wrap the two corners around your thumb, then sealing with a little water. Sprinkle with a little flour and set aside in the fridge on some greaseproof paper until needed. Repeat until you have 6 tortellini (3 per person).

Heat up a saucepan on a medium-high heat with a little olive oil, and fry the bacon pieces until crispy. Remove and set aside, and remove any excess oil from the pan but do not clean. 

Fill a saucepan with water, season with salt and bring to the boil. 

While the water is boiling, cook the black pudding. Carefully cut the slices so that they are just bigger than the tortellini. Save the other bits to add to breakfast. Heat a non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil on a medium heat. Fry the black pudding for 3 minutes per side. 

Heat up the saucepan used for the bacon to a medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter turns a light brown colour and is foaming, add the crispy bacon bits. Taste and season.

When the water has boiled, and the black pudding and butter sauce have 2 minutes to go, put the tortellini into the boiling water. Cook for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes before carefully removing with a slotted spoon. 

To plate up, arrange the black pudding on the plate and top each one with a tortellini. Spoon over a good amount of the bacon butter sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and finish with some peashoots. 

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