Sausage and mustard pasta

I’ve not posted on here for a few weeks, it seems like ages anyway. We all had the cold in what seemed like an illness relay race – thankfully the baby’s first cold didn’t seem to bother him too much, the rest of us were very brave too. The baby’s recently learned to sit up and should be ready for solid foods just in time to join in with Christmas dinner, which will be fun. I’ve started working, extremely part-time, but enough that I feel busy (it’s amazing how time consuming someone so small is when you’re trying to fit anything else in too!) and I’ve even managed to start a bit of regular exercise in a bid to shift the last of the baby weight. We’ve been eating a lot of stews (my older son has discovered a deep love of dumplings) which has been great when I have had the time but sometimes we need something a bit quicker to prepare.

This Nigel Slater sausage and mustard pasta fits the bill perfectly. I saw it mentioned on mumsnet and hunted the recipe down, the only alterations I made were to substitute half-fat creme fraiche for the double cream (otherwise what’s the point of all that exercise?!) and to add some chopped fresh thyme to the sausagemeat. The original recipe suggests conchiglie pasta but we had it with fresh egg tagliatelle and it worked well for us.

Olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
300g fresh egg tagliatelle
4-6 sausages (I used a supermarkets ‘premium’ range which were 85% meat)
About a tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
a dollop of smooth mustard, such as Dijon
a dollop of grainy mustard, such as wholegrain
150ml half fat creme fraiche (half a supermarket small tub)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the oil to a hot, shallow, large pan and fry the onions until they are very, very sweet. They want to be soft, not crisp, so put the lid on so they steam as well as fry, say a good 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions.
When the onions are caramelised, skin the sausages, mix through the chopped thyme and then rip the meat into good sized chunks and add to the onions and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the parsley (saving some to sprinkle over at the end) and stir in the mustards. It’s up to you to add as much or as little as you like of each. A tablespoon of each is usually enough.
Stir in the creme fraiche and check the seasoning, adding more mustard if you want. Drain the pasta and add to the pan and toss about till its all coated and mixed. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkling of chopped parsley.

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Nigel Slater – culinary hero

For most of my twenties I had the unadulterated luck to work in a bookshop, sadly now gone but in its day one of the biggest and best in the world. In the course of my job I got the chance to meet many authors but the person I was most excited about meeting and getting to sign my books was Nigel Slater. He writes about food passionately but in such an unpretentious way that it feels accessible to all and my well thumbed copy of Appetite was one of the first cookbooks to get me really excited about cooking. He visited the shop to do a stock signing for Toast which I had read in one sitting and had loved for its humility and humour. He was very kind to me as I babbled at him and good naturedly signed all my grease-spotted, floury copies of his books, as well as writing a dedication in a copy of Toast I was getting my dad for Christmas. He was and is a culinary hero of mine.

My good friend, Fi, seeing that I had started this blog, gave me a copy of the film of Toast which inexplicably I have never seen. So today I made a version of Nigel Slater’s lentils with sausages (I scaled it down a bit because there’s only two of us here) and tonight, while Barry’s out, I’m going to sit and watch Toast.

There’s something very beautiful about green lentils, uncooked they remind me of chips of some exotic semi-precious stone. Cooked they promise something hearty but not heavy and the contrast between the orange of the carrots and the green of the lentils in this dish satisfies my long neglected artistic side.

Lentils and sausages after Nigel Slater

  • Olive oil
  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, diced roughly
  • 1 stick of celery, diced roughly
  • 200g green lentils
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 big pork sausages
  • Chopped parsley

Fry the bacon in a heavy pan with a lid over a medium heat until it’s lightly coloured. Add the onion and let it soften for a minute or two while you chop the carrot and celery. Add them in too and let them soften but not colour. Add the lentils, stock, bay leafs and sausages. I made each of the big sausages I had into two smaller ones first by squeezing them in the middle, twisting them then cutting them in half. Bring it to the boil then turn it down to a simmer and cook it with the lid on for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley, season and serve.