Recipes from The Pasta Book by Gennaro Contaldo

Easy weekday dinners

September signals the end of the summer holidays, and that means back to the old routine – work, school, college… and more regulated mealtimes.Gennaro Contaldo

Italian cook and Jamie Oliver sidekick Gennaro Contaldo has the perfect answer – his new release, The Pasta Book, contains a host of recipes that are simple to prepare and yet satisfyingly upmarket, thanks to the freshness of their ingredients and a few extra little touches.

When it comes to pasta, Gennaro says, “use your imagination and think, ‘I’ve got this nice ingredient, it will go well with the pasta and make a lovely marriage’. Just don’t experiment too much.

“You can give it a go and say, ‘You know what? Gennaro said it was good and he was right!’”

If you want to put Contaldo’s boast to the test, here are two recipes from The Pasta Book.



Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 90g higher-welfare Parma ham slices
  • 1 large firm tomato
  • 200g taglierini pasta
  • a red or white onion, peeled, very finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded, very finely sliced
  • ¼ a fresh red chilli, finely sliced
  • bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating


Very finely slice the half the Parma ham. Quarter the tomato, cut out the seeds and finely dice the flesh.

Put the finely sliced Parma ham into a large dry frying pan over a high heat and cook for five minutes, or until crispy. Transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain.

Cook the taglierini in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, return the frying pan to a medium-high heat with three tablespoons of oil.

Add the onion, pepper and chilli and cook for a minute or so. Roughly slice the remaining Parma ham. Add to the pan. Stir in most of the parsley. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Reserving some of the cooking water, drain the taglierini and add to the pan. Add the lemon juice, diced tomato and a good grating of Parmesan. Toss well over the heat until lovely and glossy, adding a splash of the cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Divide between two plates, sprinkle over the crispy ham and add an extra grating of Parmesan. Finish by sprinkling over the lemon zest and the rest of the chopped parsley.



Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 200g bucatini pasta
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 4 ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled, finely sliced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, rinsed
  • 1 x 180g tin of quality tuna, in olive oil
  • lemon, juiced
  • 100g wild rocket, washed
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Cook the bucatini in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the anchovies and tomatoes. In a frying pan, heat three tablespoons of oil (use the oil from the tin of tuna for added flavour, if you wish) over a medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli, anchovies and capers. Fry for two minutes, then add the tomatoes and toss well.

Reserving some of the cooking water, drain the bucatini and add to the sauce. Toss well over the heat until lovely and glossy, adding a splash of the cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Flake in the tuna, then add some lemon juice and most of the rocket. Toss well to warm the tuna through and wilt the rocket, then season carefully with salt and more lemon juice. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a scattering of the reserved rocket.



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