Springtime tagliatelle with chicken, asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli

tagliatelle with chicken asparagus and purple sprouting brocolli 3

When the first spears of asparagus appear in the garden or in our weekly vegetable box, there is only ever one way to eat them: simply steamed and served with melted butter and sea salt. There is something so beautiful in this simplicity, focussing completely on the heavenly fresh green taste of the fresh, crisp asparagus, it needs nothing else.

Then as the English asparagus season continues, the recipes become more varied and asparagus makes an appearance in all kinds of meals. We tend to eat as much of it as we possibly can this time of year. This easy pasta dish, which sees the asparagus partnered with tender stems of purple sprouting broccoli, also at its best in late spring, is a firm family favourite.

I made it one evening last week when the children got home from school. The girls asked if they could bring a friend back with them, a friend who in the past has been a little on the fussy side when she’s come over for tea, so I usually play safe and cook something like fish fingers. But I had my heart set on asparagus that evening, and nothing was going to change my plans. Their friend had never eaten asparagus before, so I was intrigued to see what she’d make of it. Thankfully she seemed to enjoy it as much as my own girls and even had seconds. Hurrah! I’m always so pleased when other people’s children eat my food!

I used some wonderful Sicilian olive oil from Pomora in this pasta, for frying the chicken and also a little drizzled over the finished dish.

Tagliatelle Collage

Through Pomora you can adopt your very own olive tree (or give it to someone as a gift). As well as receiving quarterly deliveries of delicious olive oil from your tree, you also get an adoption certificate and updates from the farmer throughout the year. The guys at Pomora have travelled across Italy and Sicily to find the very finest olive farmers. They all use sustainable farming methods, pressing their own olives in the traditional way under strictly controlled conditions. The olive oil is then shipped directly to customers, no middle men involved at all.

I was seriously impressed with the olio nuovo I received from Pomora to try out. This is their youngest, freshest oil, bottle directly after harvest. It’s unfiltered, giving it a gloriously vibrant green colour, and a delicious fresh flavour with a hint of pepperiness. It’s perfect for drizzling over pasta dishes as a seasoning and simply dipping big hunks of bread into.

tagliatelle with chicken asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli text

Tagliatelle with chicken, asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli

Serves 5-6

2 large chicken breasts, skinned and diced
large knob of butter
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp crème fraiche
a squeeze of lemon juice
50g Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper
9 asparagus spears
350g purple sprouting broccoli
375g dried tagliatelle (or 450g fresh)

Fry the chicken in the butter and olive oil until cooked through. Stir in the crème fraiche, lemon juice and Parmesan, and season to taste.

Steam the asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli until just tender and, if you like, slice into more manageable pieces.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions.

When the pasta is cooked, combine with the chicken sauce and stir through the vegetables. Serve at once with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a little more grated Parmesan.


I am entering this springtime pasta dish into the latest Family Foodies challenge, which I co-host with Louisa from Eat Your Veg. The current theme is Italian-inspired family food.

Disclosure: Pomora provided me with complimentary olive oils for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions are my own (and my family’s).

Posh prunes and custard

posh prunes and custard 2

My blogging friend Janie from The Hedgecombers is off on an incredible road trip across Wales this month, discovering the best places to eat and drink in the country. Lucky bugger! While she’s otherwise engaged, she’s handed over the reins of her blog to some fellow foodies, including me.

My recipe for Posh Prunes and Custard has just appeared over on The Hedgecombers if you fancy giving it a try, and do check out Janie’s tasty offerings while you’re there. I’m sure you’ll be tempted by more than a few…

Calling all bakers: tell your best children’s stories in cake!

Official C&B Show logo

With four shows in four new venues, the Cake & Bake Show is bigger than ever this year, and includes a BAKING COMPETITION on the theme of ‘Children’s Stories’ taking place at each of the venues: Harrogate, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

The Cake & Bake Show is calling on all cake makers to create a fabulous cake that is an interpretation of a children’s story. Each cake creation can be inspired from any children’s story or film, (there’s lots of inspiration in the cinemas this summer with new releases Minion, Peter Pan and Jurassic Park); or it can be a combination of your favourite characters or stories from over the years! Continue reading

Poached pears in red wine and spices

poached pear 2

I was lucky enough to meet the brilliant Italian chef Valentina Harris at a special dinner party thrown earlier this year by Paddy and Judith O’Hagan who are part of the team behind the Wells Food Festival. The party was for volunteers and supporters of the festival, and we were treated to an incredible Italian five-course feast, all prepared by Valentina, who cooked at last year’s festival and is lined up to be involved again this year. There were beautiful canapes, followed by a selection of pasta dishes, then a wonderful risotto, an array of sweet treats and finally cheese.

One of the desserts was poached pears in the most heavenly red wine and spice syrup. I was rather surprised by how much my oldest daughter Jessie enjoyed the pears – so much so, she insisted we take our chances and pop into the kitchen (we’d been warned about the amount of swearing going on in there!) to see if Valentina would share her recipe with us. Continue reading

Cooking Asian Street Food at Demuths

Demuths Collage

Blogging under the moniker Bangers & Mash, it’s pretty obvious I am a carnivore. But in recent years I have drastically reduced the amount of meat I eat, for both health and environmental reasons, and view it much more as a luxury food rather than every day staple. I’m always looking for new ways to cook more varied and interesting meat-free dishes and so when I was invited to try out a course at Demuths Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath I jumped at the opportunity. Continue reading

Gratin Polesano / potato and cheese gratin

Gratin Polesano CollageI was given this delicious gratin recipe by Italian chef and cookery writer, Valentina Harris, who I met through my involvement in the wonderful Wells Food Festival, which has now become an annual event in England’s smallest city.

This gratin comes from Northern Italy, and is perfect as a supper dish in itself with a green salad on the side, but if you really fancy pigging out it’s also a great accompaniment to roast chicken or pork for Sunday lunch. Continue reading

Ciao bambino! The Family Foodies Italian challenge

ciao bambino

In my eyes, Italian food has to be one of the most child-friendly cuisines in the world, in the same way Italian restaurants are very often the most child-friendly places to eat with little ones in tow.

Italian dishes feature frequently in my family meal plans. There’s the now staple penne with pesto or a simple tomato sauce, spaghetti with meatballs, crowd-pleasing macaroni cheese and homely lasagne. There’s pizza and calzone – both the homemade and from-the-freezer varieties. There’s gnocchi and minestrone soup and risotto. And then there’s the puddings – the ice creams and semi-freddo, the tirimisu and panna cotta.

So for our latest Family Foodies challenge, we’re inviting food bloggers to share their favourite family-friendly, Italian-inspired dishes. From the traditional and authentic to your own unique twists on Italian classics, all are welcome at our Italian-themed feast.

What will you bring to the party?  Continue reading