Carluccio’s Penne Giardiniera … With Homemade Pasta!

Now everyone who knows Perry knows that Penne Giardiniera is his favourite dish from Carluccio’s … in fact I don’t recall him ever ordering anything other than this whenever we’ve gone there … so I thought I’d try to make it for him this weekend as a surprise … along with his favourite side dish of Garlic Spinach …

I decided instead of using Penne Pasta I would try and make some pasta from scratch … I used a very basic recipe of 2 cups all purpose flour and 2 eggs …

Make a well in the flour and add the eggs in the middle … slowly mix in the flour using a fork until it becomes easier to do it by hand …

The dough was quite dry so I added a couple tablespoons of water which helped it come together better … wrap the dough in cling film and leave on the counter to rest for 1 hr …

After the dough has rested you’ll need to roll it out on a floured surface … unfortunately I do not own a Pasta Machine … or a rolling pin for that matter … so I resorted to using a bottle of flavoured Gin that was given to us as a wedding present to roll out the pasta … it was tough work …

Managed to get it rolled quite thinly considering it was done by hand with a bottle of gin! … even so it was a bit thick for my liking … although I didn’t get any complaints from Perry about it …

Once its rolled out … cut it into thin strips and boil in salted water for 3-5 mins until al-dente … drain and keep warm until the sauce is ready …

I found the actual recipe for the Giardiniera on the Carluccio’s Blog … and I followed it almost exactly … made some slight modifications as I only needed a recipe for 2 rather than 4 …

Ingredients for the Spinach Balls and Sauce:

  • 250-300g Raw Spinach
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 170g Pecorino Romano (couldn’t find Parmesan but this worked as a good substitute)
  • 50-60g Dried Bread crumbs (I just toasted a couple slices of bread and used a food processor to turn it into breadcrumbs)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • 40g Butter
  • 1 tsp Dried Chillies
  • 2 medium Courgettes

For the Spinach Balls:

Gently boil the spinach in lightly salted water …

Press dry and tear roughly into a bowl …

Add a small clove of garlic, one egg, a dash of nutmeg, and 45-50g of grated Pecorino Romano cheese …

Add about 3/4 of the breadcrumbs which help to balance the moisture of the mixture … Season with salt and pepper … make one ball and fry to check the consistency and seasoning … if the mixture is too wet it will fall apart in the pan … I went back and added some more breadcrumbs as mine was abit too wet a mixture …

Fry until golden and set aside …

In the same pan as I made the Spinach Balls I sautéed some ribbons of courgettes (from one of the courgettes stopping when it got to the seeds) … which I made using a vegetable peeler … and set aside while I made the sauce …

In a pan melt the butter and heat the garlic and chillies … add the grated courgette (I used one large courgette) and fry for a minute or two … add the cooked pasta and toss in most of the remaining grated cheese (leave some for serving) … season with salt and pepper …

I served it up in a shallow bowl … with the ribbons of courgettes and spinach balls … topped with some more grated Pecorino Romano Cheese …

Made some garlic spinach to go with the food … sautéed about 170g of spinach with 2 cloves of garlic …

It was a very yummy lunch … and Perry enjoyed it immensely … he actually said he preferred my version to one from Carluccio’s! … so it must have worked out ok … he even loved the slightly too thick pasta!

Will definitely be making this again … soon no doubt …

Till next time …

Mina X

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