Category Archives: Pass the Pasta

Pasta recipes

Greek Lamb with Orzo

Greek Lamb with Orzo
Greek Lamb with Orzo

This recipe originally by Mary Cadogan, is based on a Greek classic. It’s made using Orzo, a widely available small rice sized pasta, which is used in place or the original Greek ingredient; Manestra.
It’s an easy recipe but takes a while to cook, however the flavoursome and tender lamb makes it all worthwhile

Serves 6


  • 1kg shoulder of lamb
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried if you don’t have fresh)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2l chicken or vegetable stock, hot.
  • 400g orzo 
  • freshly grated parmesan , to serve



  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 
  2. Cut the lamb into 4cm chunks and spread over the base of a large, wide casserole dish. 
  3. Add the onions, oregano, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon and olive oil, then stir well. 
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 45 mins, stirring halfway.
  5. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock, cover tightly, then return to the oven for 1½ hrs, until the lamb is very tender.
  6. Remove the cinnamon sticks, then stir in the orzo. 
  7. Cover again, then return to the oven and bake for a further 20 mins, stirring halfway through. 
  8. The orzo should be cooked and the sauce thickened.

Serve, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve with fresh crusty bread (like Soda Bread).

Top Tip:
This recipe can be frozen, just cool and freeze after step 4 and defrost and return to a casserole dish, gently bring to a boil (adding some water if it looks a little dry) and restart at step 5.

Classic Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce

This is a classic and versatile recipe, I use it regularly and always make a double batch and freeze it in portions, as it makes a quick base sauce for so many other dinners.

Once you’ve made it you’ll never want to use a jar again.

Serves 8 -12 Gluten Free


  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • large bunch fresh basil
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 x 400g/14oz cans chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan or large frying pan,
  2. Fry the onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent and soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the garlic and finely chopped basil stalks and sizzle for one minute, again not allowing them to colour.
  4. Stir in the tomato purée.
  5. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, and sugar.
  6. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick.
  8. Tear and stir in the basil leaves just before the end.

This can be frozen but should be used within a month.

For a creamy mascarpone and tomato sauce, add 1 tbsp of mascarpone cheese per person to the sauce and a little bit of the pasta water to thin it a little, Top with some Basil leaves and a generous grating of parmesan. Or fry off some meatballs and add to spaghetti for a quick and easy meal.

It’s just as good on it’s own on some pasta….

Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

I first saw this recipe in a television advert for Sainsburys many years ago, it had a voice over by John Nettles back when he was in ‘Bergerac’.  I suspect Jamie Oliver was still in school at the time!

Anyway, I’ve kept it as true to the original as possible, with only the addition of meatballs made from sausages. Leave them out for a vegetarian version and use Gluten Free Penne Pasta for a Gluten Free version (just cook the pasta fully before adding to the sauce and baking.

Use a good fresh sausage to make your meat balls, I like Sainsburys Sicilian Style(Gluten Free) or Pancetta & Parmesan. Any Italian style fresh sausage would work tho.

Serves 4


  • 2 Pack Mozzarella, cubed
  • 400g Fresh Italian style sausages, skinned and rolled into small meatballs (you should be able to get 2 per sausage)
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 2 X 400g tin of Peeled Plum tomotoes
  • 150g Parmesan grated
  • 2 tbls Tomato Puree
  • 1 tbls Olive Oil
  • 300g Penne Pasta
  • 1/2 tsps Mixed (or Italian) Herbs


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C(180c Fan Oven)
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water.
  3. Heat pan and add oil and fry sausage balls until the are browned, add the garlic and fry for a moment or two being careful not to let it burn (or it’ll become bitter)
  4. Add tomatoes, herbs, puree, half Mozzarella, parmesan to the meatballs in the frying pan.
  5. Bring tomato mixture to the boil and simmer on a low gas until pasta cooked.
  6. Drain Pasta and put into oven proof dish, pour over tomato sauce and stir.
  7. Sprinkle over rest of Mozzarella and a touch more Parmesan
  8. Bake in oven for 10 Min or until cheese has melted and is golden

For a Spanish take on this recipe replace the sausage meatballs with 150g roughly chopped Chorizo, it’s smoky paprika flavour works well with in the tomato sauce too….

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

This is a classic Italian soup, full of many different textures and vegetables. But it’s also a little bit more than a soup – it’s almost a main course that you can eat with crusty bread for lunch. The idea behind most soups is to cook them as quickly as possible to keep all the freshness in. This dish is a prime example of needing to cook all the ingredients gently first in the oil and then adding the stock while it’s boiling. This way you’re not stewing it for hours and losing all the goodness out of the vegetables. The thickener of this soup, although it’s got tomato purée and all the vegetables in there, is the starch from the pasta, so don’t panic if the soup looks a bit thin at first.

Serves 4 and it’s Gluten Free too!


  • Olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 250g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small swede, peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed and chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 ltr chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100g spaghetti (use you favourite Gluten Free spaghetti, for a gluten free version of this recipe. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly dependant on the time your particular brand takes to cook)
  • ½ a Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 400g Tin of White Beans in Water (ie Cannellinni or Flagolet)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Pesto


  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and lightly sauté the onion, garlic and rosemary until softened.
  2. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook without colouring for 3-4 minutes until the fat begins to come out.
  3. Add the carrot, swede, celery and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Season the vegetables while they’re cooking in the pan.
  4. Add the tomato purée, stir, and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Add the hot stock. Turn down to a simmer and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  6. Put the spaghetti into a clean tea-towel and roll it up so you’ve got a sausage shape. Hold both ends tightly, then tap it over the edge of a table or work top so the spaghetti breaks into small even pieces.
  7. Add to the soup and simmer until the spaghetti is tender – it should take about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, Beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
  8. Check the seasoning, then serve the soup in bowls and eat…

To get that authentic Italian feel, top with a teaspoonful of pesto. Eat with crusty bread (like my Cheese Soda Bread), it’s perfect comfort food for a blustery day.