chestnut & cavolo nero pasta with ricotta

i’ve not been feeling particularly creative in the kitchen recently, relying on old favourites, not least due to the arrival of autumnal favourites such as cavolo nero, crown prince pumpkins etc. however in an attempt to shake things up i decided to put a focus on using up some of the things that have been sitting for too many months, unloved, in my cupboards.

the starting point for this dish was a pack of cooked chestnuts and jacob kennedy’s recipe for chestnut and mushroom pasta. his recipe is much more involved, requiring homemade chestnut pasta, but given this was a mid-week supper i kept things simple. i also wanted to keep it vegetarian, so swapped the original pancetta for sundried tomatoes. the end result was a richly flavoured dish, with the chestnuts and ricotta adding a creamy earthy flavour that contrasted nicely with the slow-cooked cavolo nero and savoury tomato.

chestnut & cavolo nero pasta with ricotta (serves 2)

pasta for two – i used tagliatelle

25g butter

1 large shallot, sliced (or a small red onion)

2 cloves garlic, sliced

8-10 cavolo nero leaves, stems removed and diced, leaves cut into pieces

100g cooked chestnuts, sliced

6-8 sundried tomatoes, sliced

150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

5 sage leaves

50-75g ricotta (you could use cream or crème fraiche instead)

25g grated parmesan plus extra to serve

salt and freshly ground black pepper

melt the butter and add the sliced onion, garlic and diced cavolo nero stem (this has a lovely slightly crunchy texture – don’t just throw it away!) and cook for a minute or so. add the cavolo nero leaves and cook until they have wilted. put the pasta on to cook and then add the chestnuts to the cavolo nero and cook for a good 5 minutes until the nuts begin to crisp and brown. add the tomatoes, mushrooms and sage and cook over a relatively high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms have softened and started to brown. you might want to add a little wine or water at this stage of this get dry.

when the mushrooms are cooked, stir in the ricotta and parmesan, season to taste and set aside until the pasta is ready. add a little of the pasta cooking water if you want a looser sauce and then stir the pasta and sauce together. serve with extra parmesan.