This is a nice tomato based pasta dish adapted from the 30 minute meal “Pregnant Jools' Pasta” but when making a vegetarian version the recipe requires a few tweaks. In the programme, Jamie Oliver talks at length about the necessity of good quality sausages and how integral they are to the dish. He also uses a heaped teaspoon of fennel seeds to complement the pork. This is where an issue arises if pork sausages are omitted; the vegetarian sausages we use work well in most dishes and are lovely on their own but in this recipe their flavour just isn't quite powerful enough to stand up to the fennel and balsamic vinegar. I'd like to cook this meal again, omitting the fennel, decreasing the balsamic vinegar and using more oregano, which I think would stop the flavour of the sausages getting overpowered and lost.
The salad is simple and works well with the pasta but the tarts were my favourite bit of the meal and they were incredibly easy to make. I couldn't find six deep pastry cases so I used eight shallow ones instead and the tarts still turned out nicely. We ate them with ice cream rather than the specified creme fraiche but they would work equally as well with custard. Likewise, any kind of jam can be used - we opted for black cherry but next time I'd like to try raspberry.
I don't have a food processor for the pasta sauce but my blender worked well enough and I left out the stick of celery as I strongly dislike it.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, boil the kettle and place a large frying pan on a high heat.
- Pasta - Remove the ends from the spring onions and chillies then roughly slice. Chop the carrots and celery and place in a food processor (or blender) with the spring onions and chili. Process for a few seconds until coarse then transfer the vegetables into the frying pan with some olive oil.
- Roughly chop up the sausages and add them to the food processor along with the fennel seeds and oregano. Once processed add the sausages into the frying pan.
- Place a large saucepan on a low heat. Fill with the water from the kettle and a little salt.
- Tarts - Place the pastry cases on a baking tray. Crack the egg into a large bowl along with the ground almonds, butter, sugar and vanilla. Grate in the zest of half an orange and mix well.
- Spoon a little jam (less than a teaspoon) into the pastry cases and top with a large teaspoon of the almond mixture. Add another teaspoon of jam then another teaspoon of the mixture then place the tarts on the middle shelf of the oven for 18 minutes.
- Pasta - Add the pasta to the saucepan and cook as specified on the packet.
- Salad - Trim the bottoms of the chicory and pull the leaves apart. Place on a plate along with the watercress and rocket. Mix well.
- Pasta - Crush the garlic into the frying pan that contains the vegetable and sausage mixture then add the balsamic vinegar. Fry for a few minutes and then add the tin of chopped tomatoes.
- Salad - Shave some parmesan over the salad, season with salt and pepper, then slice the lemon into wedges.
- Pasta - Drain the pasta and save a little of the starchy water. Transfer the pasta into the frying pan of sauce, stir well and add some of the reserved pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Season well then tip the pasta into a large bowl, grate over the parmesan cheese and tear up the basil leaves, scattering over the pasta.
- Tarts - Once the tarts are golden brown, remove from the oven and serve with the creme fraiche.