Annie Bell’s pasta recipes supercharged with wholegrains and legumes

Power up your pasta: it’s our favourite supper staple, but not as we know it! These Annie Bell pasta recipes showcase the new-style pasta supercharged with wholegrains and legumes.

Spaghetti with sausages and peppers

Sausage and beans in a tasty new guise. Black bean spaghetti is high in protein so you only need a fraction of your usual portion yet will feel well-fed for hours afterwards.

Spaghetti with sausages and peppers
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

600g tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, black pepper
6 long red peppers, core and seeds discarded and thickly sliced
4 pork sausages (a tasty variety such as chorizo-style, Toulouse or ones with onions or herbs, e.g., Lincolnshire)
2 red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
130g black bean spaghetti, eg Liberto
coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 210C/190C fan/gas 6½. Arrange the tomatoes cut-side up in a single layer in a roasting pan, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of oil and season.

2. Spread the peppers over the base of another large roasting pan, drizzle over the remaining oil, season and toss to coat. If the sausages have skins slit and slip these off then break the meat into 2cm-3cm nibs and scatter on top of the peppers. Roast both pans for 30 minutes, then stir the onions into the peppers.

3. Roast for another 15 minutes, then remove the tomatoes. Stir the peppers and sausages and cook these for a further 15 minutes. At the same time, put a pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

4. Purée the tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper in a blender, as thoroughly as possible to avoid sieving. Add the pasta to the pan, stir and simmer according to the packet instructions or until just tender. Drain it using a colander, shake dry then return it to the pan. Add the tomato sauce and gently toss. If necessary, briefly reheat.

5. To serve, pile the spaghetti on to four plates, spoon the peppers and sausage on top then scatter with the parsley.

Courgette, mint and goat’s cheese penne

This gentle creamy sauce is deliciously light and fresh, perfect for this time of year.

Courgette, mint and goat's cheese penne
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
700g courgettes, ends trimmed and sliced
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
sea salt, black pepper
100ml white wine
a handful of mint, plus a few tiny leaves to serve
300g chickpea penne
100g soft goat’s cheese, coarsely crumbled
freshly grated parmesan, to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, then add the courgettes, spring onions and garlic. Season and fry for 15-20 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.

2. Add the wine, turn up the heat then simmer until well-reduced.

3. Liquidise the contents of the pan in a blender with the mint. Taste for seasoning then return to the pan.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, give it a stir and cook according to the packet instructions or until just tender then drain in a colander.

5. Reheat the sauce then mix in the pasta and gently fold in the goat’s cheese. Serve scattered with the parmesan, a drizzle of oil and a few tiny mint leaves.

Crispy pancetta carbonara

One of the easiest and greatest tasting recipes. Pancetta whisks carbonara into the present, fried to a delicate crisp then scattered over the spaghetti at the end.

Crispy pancetta carbonara
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

300g buckwheat spaghetti
150g thinly sliced pancetta, sliced downwards into thin strips
3 large eggs
75g freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
4 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
sea salt, black pepper

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

2. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick frying pan over a medium heat then scatter in the pancetta. Gently stir with a wooden spoon and fry in the rendered fat until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on a double thickness of kitchen paper.

3. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl, blend in the parmesan and the parsley then season well.

4. Drain the spaghetti in a colander, reserving half a cup of the cooking liquid. Rapidly toss the pasta into the egg and cheese mixture, taste for seasoning and add a drop of water if it seems dry. Fold in half the pancetta then serve with the rest scattered over and a little more parsley and parmesan.

Watercress and asparagus penne

A light and healthy take on the classic combination of pea and asparagus using green-pea pasta.

Watercress and asparagus penne
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

300g asparagus (trimmed weight)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthways
200g watercress
a large handful of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt, black pepper
250g green pea penne
freshly grated parmesan, to serve

1. For the sauce, cut off and reserve the asparagus tips then thickly slice the remaining stalks. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil over the base of a large saucepan, scatter over the garlic and sliced asparagus, pile the watercress on top and add 150ml water. Cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for 15 minutes until the asparagus is tender and the leaves have wilted, stirring towards the end.

2. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the reserved asparagus tips for 2 minutes, then drain in a sieve.

3. Whiz the contents of the watercress pan with the parsley, remaining oil, lemon juice and some seasoning to a smooth purée. Return this to the pan.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until just tender.

4. Drain the pasta in a colander. Reheat the sauce if necessary then add the pasta and toss to coat.

5. To serve, scatter the asparagus tips on top then liberally dust with parmesan and drizzle over a little more oil.

Salmon and spinach fusilli

This lively dish is nutritious, zesty and vibrant – salmon, spinach and red lentil pasta tizzed up with chilli, garlic and lemon.

Salmon and spinach fusilli 
Chris Alack

SERVES 2

20g coriander (fine stalks and leaves)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice, plus a squeeze
sea salt
120g red lentil fusilli
1 tsp finely chopped medium-hot red chilli
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
250g spinach
125g salmon fillet (skinned weight), cut into 2cm-3cm dice

1. Put the coriander, 2 tablespoons of oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little salt in a food processor and whiz into a purée, scraping down as necessary, then remove to a bowl.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, give it a stir and cook according to the packet instructions or until just tender, then drain in a colander and shake dry.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Stir the chilli and garlic into the oil, then add the spinach half at a time and fry until it wilts. Stir in the salmon, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 3 minutes.

4. Scatter over a little salt, drizzle over a tablespoon of lemon juice and gently stir. Mix in the pasta and serve dotted with the herb purée.

Chicken and mushroom pasta

Great as a weekday meal as you can make the sauce in advance and a good way to use up any chicken after your weekend roast.

Chicken and mushroom pasta
Chris Alack

SERVES 2

150g spelt penne
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
400g chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
100ml white wine
30g finely grated parmesan
sea salt, black pepper
150g cooked chicken, thinly sliced

1. If you are making the sauce and pasta at the same time, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until just tender.

2. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, then half the shallots and cook until translucent. Throw in half the mushrooms and fry for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden. Don’t worry about any liquid given out – this will add to the sauce. Remove and repeat with the remaining oil, shallots and mushrooms.

3. Return all the mushrooms and shallots to the pan, add the wine and simmer to reduce by about half. Transfer half the mushrooms and shallots and any liquid to a blender, add 100ml water, two thirds of the parmesan and some seasoning and whiz until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary. Stir this in with the rest of the mushrooms then add the chicken and heat through.

4. Drain the pasta using a colander and stir into the sauce. Serve scattered with the rest of the parmesan and an extra drizzle of oil.

TIP For a creamier mushroom sauce, add a little crème fraîche or soured cream to the finished sauce.

My favourite no-cook sauce: Crab spaghetti

This sauce is luxurious – and with no cooking needed! I recommend you serve alongside spelt or buckwheat spaghetti (300g for 4).

Crab spaghetti 
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

200g mixture of pre-cooked brown and white crabmeat
1 medium-hot red chilli, core and seeds discarded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed to a paste
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 heaped tbsp coarsely chopped
flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
sea salt, black pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a large bowl.

2. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain then toss with the sauce.

3. Serve scattered with a little more parsley.

Best of the new pastas

LEGUMES get a glamorous makeover in super-nutritious and filling pastas. You won’t need quite as big a portion as usual. Take advantage of red lentil, green pea, chickpea, black bean and edamame bean, in whatever shape is on offer.

WHOLEGRAINS but not the usual suspects. Our favourites include those made with buckwheat, quinoa and spelt.

COOKING TIPS Cooking times vary, so be guided by the packet. Every type will have a slightly different texture and flavour, true to the ingredient it is made with.

Recipes: Annie Bell. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe.

For more recipe ideas go toanniebell.net and @anniebell.net