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FOOD Autumn pasta dishes


Turning the season’s wheel

Redmond Cabot

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace As I have seen in one autumnal face
– John Donne

All change at food HQ, as the season’s ripe harvest is enjoyed with a sparse winter looking over your shoulder.
Days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and food intakes in general require ‘upping’ as bodies require more heating. Hearty dishes replace light plates. The past lies harvested, the future lies ahead through uncertain paths. Such is our lives.
Have you tried any jam this year? I only made a small amount last week, the berries before were fairly damaged, not ripe, and often swollen with rainwater. Does not appear a great year for fruits after stop-start beginning to summer? Please let me know if you have had great success.
’Tis the season for beetroot though. I love the red, slick, flesh of freshly cooked beetroot and the vitalness of its nutritious flavours this time of year. I came across a real winner of a roasted beetroot, smoked mackerel and horseradish salad recently. Basically, you mix salad leaves with cut, roasted beetroot and flaked smoked mackerel. Serve with a dressing of olive/rapeseed oil with crème fraiche, grated horseradish and a squeeze of lemon. I have a feeling beetroot would go well in a winter salad with braised hake too.

Pasta straddle dishes

No, this has nothing to do with any sexy straddling in the kitchen. These are two pasta dishes that ‘straddle’ the seasons. They can be hearty and delicate at the same time. They are convenient like summer dishes but contain autumnal flavours.
As always, boil your pasta in plenty of heavily salted water and remove while it still has a ‘bite’ and before it becomes too soft. Always take a little of the cooking water with the pasta to combine with your sauce.

Smoky tomato pasta sauce

What you need
  • 12 ripe tomatoes
  • Big sprig of thyme
  • Small fistful of shredded basil leaves
  • Olive oil
  • 25 black olives
  • Seasoning
  • 120g linguine or spaghetti per person

What you do
Wash and halve your tomatoes and place cut side on a baking tray. Scatter the thyme over the tomatoes, and season. Grill the lot together until the skin bubbles and the juices start running free. Place in bowl and mash around with the basil with a fork. Toss in the olives. Add a small touch of balsamic vinegar if you like, for bite. Pour over the cooked pasta, stir and serve.

Spinach balls with pasta and courgette

This recipe from Italian chef Antonio Carluccio uses green, seasonal ingredients with a bit of crunchy frying adding an autumnal twist to this Italian pasta dish.

What you need
  • Spinach balls
  • 500g spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 50g grated cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

  • 2 courgettes grated
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 chilli
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 100g penne or rigatoni per person

What you do
Drop the spinach in salted boiling water for two minutes, remove, squeeze and drain. Chop up and mix in a bowl with the beaten eggs, garlic clove, breadcrumbs and cheese, season. Mix and form into 1-inch balls. Fry the balls in hot oil in frying pan and remove when crispy to paper towelling. For the sauce, fry garlic and chilli over medium heat for two minutes and add courgettes for another five minutes. Season and add grated parmesan. Stir in pasta (with a touch of its cooking water), serve out in bowls and place balls on top.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm, and Newport Street Market on Fridays, 11am to 4pm.