Ahh, spring is nearly here. The sounds of lambs bleating to their anxious mothers across dewy fields. Birds calling for a mate in budding trees above the flowering crocus and snowdrops.
Well, no. The apocalyptic scene below, my friends, is my local coast and is all down to one stubborn mother of a blocking anti-cyclone somewhere off the Scottish coast according the good people at BBC weather. And we’ve had it lightly by all accounts. I’ve no doubt the snow-bound residents of Ireland, Dumfries and Galloway or Yorkshire would rather like this delinquent weather system to ‘block off’. Fairly quickly.
I’m getting fed up of winter fires and ‘comfort food’, whatever that means – I want sunshine, barbecues, seafood in a busy cafe. For the first time in my life I’m becoming worried about rickets. What’s going on?
As a compromise, I made this big pappardelle dish recently. Hearty but hinting at holidays in Northern Italy, it succeeded in cheering me up no end.
It started with the distinctly un-Italian Cumberland sausage, which bar a few key ingredients is actually fairly similar, being made with plenty of herbs and a coarse texture. I filled in the gaps in this with some roast and ground fennel seed, dried chilli and gently fried garlic to give it that familiar Italian taste
I finished it off with some light single cream, finely sliced sweet red peppers and a good handful of grated parmesan.
Big flavours resulted and I felt both ‘comforted’ and slightly less like hibernating. Now if only we could dislodge this pesky anti-cyclone – over to you climatologists…
- 200g Pappardelle pasta
- 3 coarse pork sausages, Cumberland if you can get them
- 1 tbsp fennel seed, dry roasted and ground to a powder
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1/2 red pepper, finely sliced
- About 200ml single cream
- Parmesan cheese to taste
- Salt and Black pepper
Boil a large pan of water, season with salt and put in the pasta. 12 minutes to get on with the rest….
Heat a smallish frying pan with some olive oil. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and gently fry for a few minutes. Meanwhile, remove the sausage skins. Add the sausage meat to the pan with 1-2 tsp of ground fennel seed (to suit your taste) and brown well.
Add the peppers and soften for a few minutes more. Check the pasta, should be nearly there.
Lastly, pour in the cream and simmer to reduce a little.
Stir in a handful of parmesan, taste and season if necessary.
Drain the pasta and serve it up with the sauce on top (or mix in together in the pan..) and a good twist of black pepper.