Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Spinach farfalle with mushrooms, celeriac puree, parma ham and a crispy hen’s egg

It feels like ages since I wrote my last blog entry. With December and Christmas being really busy, my Mondays off were spent rushing around sorting presents and preparing for the holidays and time in the kitchen was minimal. Now that we’re back into January I’ve been really looking forward to doing some proper cooking again, and this week was the first time that my Monday lunches got back on the road again. 

I am always thinking up different dishes to make on my days off, and I have been wanted to make this particular one for a while. As always, the dish started off as a simplified version, just some fresh tagliatelle with mushrooms and parma ham, but the more I thought about it, the more bits were added to it until it became the finished meal. No doubt I will think of other ways to further change it as time goes on... 

I have been making fresh pasta for many years now, but have always made ‘cut’ pasta or cannelloni. I have always wanted to have a go at making pasta shapes, but have never got around to it until now. The same goes for making a flavoured and coloured pasta dough. The idea of making farfalle with different coloured halves it not my own. I first saw it whilst watching Masterchef last year, when one of the finalists learned how to make it whilst placed in a London Restaurant (I seem to remember it being with Alain Ducasse but I’m not positive). It seemed like a great idea and fairly straightforward to make, but after making the batch for this recipe it definitely takes a knack to get the pasta just right. I found that the most important thing is making sure that the seam between the two dough pieces is properly sealed before running it through the machine, otherwise the seam can split which makes the finished dough look really messy. It’s well worth trying though as the little bow ties look great once finished. 

The inspiration for this dish came from eating plain pasta (not even any butter or oil!) with breaded chicken as a small child. I used to love the crispy bits of breadcrumb that would find their way into the pasta, and this is replicated with the deep fried egg. It’s funny how childhood eating memories influence the way we eat now, although I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back to syrup sandwiches any time soon!

The key with getting this dish right is balancing the flavours properly. The richness of the egg yolk and saltiness of the parma ham is cut by the acidity in the puree and the earthiness of the mushrooms. No one taste really dominates, they just come together and compliment one another when eaten at the same time. 

This dish can be changed slightly to make it vegetarian. In this case, swap the parma ham for a salty, tangy cheese such as a mild goat’s cheese. 

Serves 2


For the pasta: 

200g ’00’ strong pasta flour, separated into two 100g amounts, plus more for kneading
2 eggs
50g spinach leaves, tough stalks discarded
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dried cous cous

For the crispy eggs:

3 large eggs
100g plain flour
75g panko flakes
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Vegetable oil for frying, about 1.5-2 litres

For the celeriac puree:

1/3 of a large celeriac (about 300g), peeled and chopped into 1in pieces
3 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
40g butter
Salt and pepper

200g fresh girolles, trimmed and cleaned with a brush
100g brown beech mushrooms, trimmed
15g dried porcini mushrooms
20g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a lemon, juice only
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

To finish:

2 slices parma ham
A few shards of parmesan
A few rocket leaves

First make the pasta. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil, and when hot, blanch the spinach leaves for a minute. Immediately put the cooked spinach leaves into iced water and leave to cool. Thoroughly squeeze out the water from the leaves so that they are fairly dry. Place into a food processor and blitz until very finely chopped (they should be too dry to really form a puree). Add 1 of the eggs and a pinch of salt and blitz again until will combined. Tip in 100g of the ’00’ flour and mix again until the dough resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Pour onto a work surface and knead really well, until a smooth and elastic dough is formed that is not wet or sticky. Wrap with clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. 

Now make the plain pasta dough. Put the second 100g portion of flour into a cleaned food processor bowl and add the second of the eggs, the olive oil and a good pinch of salt and repeat the blitzing / kneading / resting process as the spinch dough. 

Using a pasta machine and a little extra flour, roll each dough through each of the thickness settings until you get to the second finest (I only really use the finest setting for filled pasta). Cut each sheet of pasta in half so that you have two narrow pieces of each dough, then cut each piece so that it is about 30cm long; this will make it much more manageable. Carefully brush one long edge of each spinach sheet to about 1cm in, then very gently position the long edge of one of the plain pasta sheets on top. Seal with your fingers. Roll the sealed combined sheet through the second thinnest setting on the machine and you should be left with a sealed sheet with one side spinach dough and the other plain. Cut into 4cm strips, then use a large circular cutter to form the outer edges. Try to make this as even as possible so that the join between the two doughs is in the centre. Squeeze the centre of the strips to form the bow tie shape. Gently flour the completed farfalle, then pour the cous cous onto a plate and position the pasta on top. The cous cous absorbs the moisture but will drop off in the pan whilst boiling. Set aside to dry whilst you prepare the rest of the recipe. 

While the pasta dough is resting, make the crispy eggs. Bring a pan of water to the boil and lower in 2 of the eggs. Cook for 1 minute, then turn the heat off, cover and leave for another 5 minutes. Remove the eggs and place in iced water mixed with the white wine vinegar. Allow to cool thoroughly, then peel the eggs very carefully. Set up 2 small plates and 1 small bowl. Put the flour on one plate, the panko on the other and beat the egg into the bowl. Season each element. Roll the eggs one at a time very gently in the flour to cover then dip into the egg. Finally transfer the eggs to the panko and roll around until fully covered with the breadcrumbs. Set aside until needed.

To make the puree, bring a large saucepan of salty water to the boil and when hot, add the chopped celeriac. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until tender before draining and putting into a food processor with the milk, butter, seasoning and mustard. Blitz very well before tasting and adjusting with milk/butter/seasoning as necessary. Pass through a fine sieve and into a bowl. Keep warm if near to serving, or cool and refrigerate if making in advance to reheat later. 

Put the porcini into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 20 minutes to soak before draining, keeping the strained liquid for later. 

While the celeriac is cooking, make the crispy parma ham. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (Fan). Line a baking tray with baking parchment and lay the parma ham on top. Cook in the hot oven for 6-8 minutes or until very crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and break into small shards. 

Fill a large saucepan with water, add salt and bring to the boil. In a separate medium saucepan heat the deep frying oil to 170ºC. Finally, put a large frying pan onto a medium heat. 

When everything is hot, melt the butter with the olive oil in the frying pan. Add the soaked porcini and the garlic and fry for 1 minute, before adding the girolles and season well. At this point, put the farfalle into the boiling water and carefully lower the crumbed eggs into the hot oil. Add the beech mushrooms and lemon juice to the frying pan and cook for a minute, by which point the pasta should be ready. Lift the pasta using a slotted spoon and transfer to the pan with the mushrooms and gently stir everything together. Add a couple of tablespoons of the porcini liquid and cook for another minute, at which point the egg should have turned a golden brown in the oil. Remove from the oil and drain. 

To serve, spoon a little of the puree onto the middle of the plates and top with the crispy eggs. Arrange the farfalle around the egg and top with the mushrooms. Spoon a little of the buttery pan juices over the pasta. Scatter the parma ham, parmesan and rocket around the pasta and serve. 


  1. I have had such a taste for parma ham lately, this is sounding amazing!

    Lela - www.LelaLONDON.com

  2. Thanks, glad you like it!

    I love it too, and use it loads in cooking. Really like the intense flavour it has when roasted, and it acts as a great seasoning in it's own right.


  3. That looks delicious! You are a very talented chef!
    Erica xo