I buy pork sausage meat in 500g tubes from my butcher and always keep at least one handy in the freezer as it’s so versatile. I make my famous Pigeon Cottage party sausage rolls with it, use it as a base for all kinds of stuffings and it also provides the foundation for this delicious pasta sauce. The creamy sauce flavoured with fennel seeds, chilli, lemon zest, white wine and mustard is quite rich so folding in a generous amount of wilted spinach at the end balances the dish perfectly. Wild garlic leaves are in season at the moment and they would probably work quite well too. You can use whatever pasta you have to hand obviously but I find the short, frilly edged Malfada Corta from the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range is just perfect. It freezes well so I make enough for four, freeze half and cook the pasta and spinach fresh as and when I need it. If you have all your ingredients to hand, you can have this on the table in half an hour quite easily.
- 500g pork sausage meat
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp of garlic, crushed to a paste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g bag of fresh spinach
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- Zest of a lemon
- Black pepper and salt
- 4 tbsp double cream
- 50ml white wine
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 pinch chilli flakes
- To finish – grated Parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil
- Pasta of your choice, about 50g per person
- Heat the oil in pan and gently sauté the shallot until soft and golden.
- Add the fennel seeds and the pork sausage meat. Break it up with the back of a spoon as it cooks through for 5 or 6 minutes so there are no large lumps. Add the wine and stir for a couple of minutes whilst it reduces.
- Stir in the chilli flakes, garlic, lemon zest, mustard, cream and season with a little salt and plenty of ground black pepper. Keep it cooking on a low heat until the pasta is ready.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. Usually about ten minutes.
- To prepare the spinach, wash it in plenty of cold water and then pile it into a colander or a large sieve and place it to drain over a bowl. Discard any cold water that drips through. To wilt it, boil a full kettle of water and pour it over the spinach. Put the colander in the sink and pour over the boiled water in the bowl. Two soakings should be enough. Once it cools a little, take the spinach out of the colander and squeeze it lightly into a rough ball with your hands. Place it onto a chopping board and chop it coarsely.
- Drain the pasta once it’s ready, add the pasta and the chopped wilted spinach to the sauce and stir throughly. Allow it to warm through for a few minutes before adding to warmed pasta bowls – the sauce and the spinach should coat the pasta and not be runny.
- To serve, drizzle with a dash of extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan.
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