We tried Pasta alla Norma from Jamie Oliver. This famous Sicilian recipe includes a pasta sauce made from aubergines, olive oil, oregano, red chilli, garlic, frsh basil, white wine vinegar, chopped canned tomatoes and seasoning. Ricotta is used in the authentic recipe, but we used Parmesan. We served with spaghetti. A very tasty meal.
Research online suggests the Sicilian grape variety Nero d’Avola is a good wine pairing. We didn’t have a bottle but we did have Cosiero Nero, Nero di Troia 2013, an Italian red from the Sunday Times Wine Club. This full-bodied wine is from Puglia and we found black fruits on the nose with a palate of black fruits, vanilla sweetness and a smooth, spicy finish. A good match with the pasta.
Chicken breast strips are cooked with a sauce containing onion, garlic purée, vegetable stock, sweet chilli sauce, red pesto, crème fraîche, basil, tomatoes and seasoning. The mixture is served over fresh pasta and we used tagliatelle.
We decided on a bottle of Esporao Monte Velho Tinto Alentejano 2013, a Portuguese red from the Wine Society. A good wine but a clash with this particular dish.
We turned to a bottle of The Huguenot Chenin Blanc 2014, an off-dry South African white from the Sunday Times Wine Club. See here for a previous pairing with this wine.
We tasted tropical fruits, especially pineapple and peach, and the finish was slightly citrussy. The wine was a very good match with the pasta.
We were looking for a recipe online for a midweek meal and found Spicy Mince Pasta Bake from RoosterandHen on the AllRecipes website.
We used Penne and this was baked in the oven with a mixture containing onions, garlic, smoked bacon, minced beef, red chilli, mixed herbs, Cayenne pepper, paprika, tomato purée, white wine, chopped canned tomatoes, mushrooms, Mozzarella, Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
We opened a bottle of Bricco Rosso Suagna Langhe Rosso 2008, a medium-bodied Italian red from the Wine Society.
The wine is a blend of Dolcetto and Nebbiolo and we tasted red fruits, especially cherries, vanilla notes with good tannins and acidity on the finish. A good match.
We found a Tagliatelle Alfredo recipe on the Wine Society’s website ideal for using up leftover ham a few weeks back but didn’t get around to trying it. The pasta sauce contains mushrooms, lemon juice, black pepper, white wine, cubed ham, (we used pancetta instead) and creme fraiche. The tagliatelle is garnished with chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan.
The Wine Society recommend a white Burgundy pairing, but we didn’t have the one they suggested. However, we did have a bottle of Macon-Lugny, Les Coteaux des Anges 2013, a white Burgundy from Costco.
We tasted a slight creaminess, with crisp citrus flavours of oranges and lemons. A very good match with the pasta.
Spaghetti is coated in a sauce containing onions, streaky bacon (we used pancetta instead), garlic, chilli flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, oregano and cream. A tasty and delicious recipe with a spicy kick.
We opened a bottle of Visionario 2011 Venezie IGT, an aromatic Italian white blend from the Sunday Times Wine Club.
We found this wine refreshing with creamy grapefruit flavours and a good match with the pasta. We thought the wine might pair even better with less spicy dishes.
We needed to use up some ham and found a recipe by Mary Berry online on the BBC Food website.
The recipe uses Parma ham but we used ordinary ham together with mushrooms, crème fraîche, salt and pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. Penne pasta is stirred into the mixture and chopped parsley is sprinkled over. We served with crusty bread and thoroughly enjoyed this simple but tasty recipe.
To pair with the meal we opened a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2012, an Italian white.
This was fresh, crisp with creamy grapefruit, peach and pineapple. This enjoyable wine was a very good match with the pasta.
For a midweek meal we cooked Fettuccine alla Romana from Supercook. This is a tasty, colourful Italian dish of fettuccine noodles with a sauce containing canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, mushrooms, red wine and a little sugar. It is served with grated Parmesan sprinkled over and fresh crusty bread.
We had difficulty finding fettuccine in our local shops and eventually found some in Waitrose made by De Cecco. It was very expensive and, whilst it was very nice, frankly we didn’t think the difference in taste justified the huge hike in price from standard own-brand pasta.
We opened a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Gavi 2012, an Italian white made from the Coretese grape. This crisp, dry wine had a citrussy freshness with flavours of pears. It was a good match with the meal.
We tried Tagliatelle Verde with Bacon and Tomatoes from Supercook. However, we couldn’t find any green tagliatelle in our local shops, so used plain. Never mind.
The sauce for the pasta contains bacon, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, tarragon, oregano, béchamel sauce and double cream. After combining with the pasta, the mixture is topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs and browned in the oven. This excellent pasta dish is served with crusty bread.
The creaminess in the sauce should have pointed us in the direction of something like a Chardonnay, but some of the flavours in the sauce suggested an Italian red might work and we opened a bottle of the Society’s Chianti Rufina 2011, an Italian red from the Wine Society. This is a good wine, but not quite a good enough match with this particular meal.
We switched to a bottle of Cimarosa California Chardonnay 2012 from Lidl, thinking it should be able to cope with the creamy sauce and it did.
There was a bouquet of tropical fruit and these followed through in the flavours, which were accompanied by pineapple and a smooth, buttery creaminess from the oak. A good match with this meal.
Last time we drank Stenmari Grillo Sicilia 2011 was with a Tagliatelle Bolognese and we made a note to try this Italian white from the Wine Society with fish or seafood next time.
We found a recipe in our Jamie’s Italian cookbook called Spaghetti con Gamberetti e Rucola (Spaghetti with Prawns and Rocket). The sauce contains prawns, garlic, red chillies, white wine, sun-dried tomato purée, zest and juice of lemon and rocket. Lemon zest is sprinkled on top of the spaghetti too when serving and so the dish had a definite spicy and lemony kick.
It seemed very appropriate to pair this dish that Jamie discovered in Sicily with a Sicilian wine and we found it fresh, crisp, citrussy, zesty with a grapefruit finish. It coped well with the strongly-flavoured sauce.
Good wine pairings with pasta and Bolognese sauce can be a challenge. If the sauce is ready-made or from an English cookery book recipe, it is likely to be herby, garlicky, very tomatoey and sweet. The traditional and authentic Italian Ragu is much milder in flavour and needs more gently-flavoured wines, preferably whites. (See here for how we learned our lesson the hard way).
The renowned Italian chef, Antonio Carluccio wrote an interesting article in the Daily Mail about the differences between the British adaptation and the traditional. We tried his Ragu recipe from the article and served it with Tagliatelle as suggested.
The Bolognese sauce contains pancetta, carrot, celery, onion, minced beef and pork, dry white wine, chicken stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper. We sprinkled some fresh Parmesan cheese over the dish. Try this recipe and taste the difference.
We paired the meal with a bottle of Stenmari Grillo Sicilia 2011, an Italian white from the Wine Society.
The wine was mellow with tropical fruits, a little melon and an intense grapefruit finish. We thought it was a lovely wine and a good match. We will try our next bottle of this wine with some fish or seafood.