Monday, 16 July 2012

Recipe: Spag in a bag

As readers of my blog may know, I'm organising two big events: Global Feast 2012 and The Underground Restaurant at Bestival.
The Global Feast will attempt to span the worlds cuisine over the space of 20 nights. Our Mediterranean night is on the 26th of July. Book here. Tickets still available. We have The Italian Supper Club, whose head chef Toro will be making fresh tagliatelli, their speciality, for 80 people on the night, which is a bit of a feat in itself. We also have Cinzia Ghignoni, the head chef of The Table Cafe, who I visited last Friday, doing one of the courses. Always good to see great female chefs! I tasted her food and it was sublime.
Italian food is my favourite food of all. I could (and probably do) live on pasta and Spaghetti Napoli is my death row mains. (Death row starter is fried courgette flowers stuffed with goat's cheese and drizzled with truffle honey. Death row canape is marmite on toast. Death row pud is pavlova with passion fruit. Just in case you were interested. )
This weekend I experimented with making larger versions of my spaghetti in a bag recipe (in my book) also known as Spaghetti al cartoccio. This will form the main course at Bestival: with a white vongole sauce for the seafood lovers and with Cosi Come tomatoes and edible flowers for the vegetarians. We will be using Garofolo, a bronze die spaghetti, for the pasta. I do think it's worth spending money on products like this: good pasta cooks better, it remains al dente.
It's a spectacular dish, very theatrical, being served in a large paper 'bag' and slashed at the table, steam billowing everywhere, with the perfectly cooked pasta nestling inside.
Book for Bestival here. Don't delay, we sold out last time and people were queuing to get in.

Recipe for edible flower spag in a bag:
You need good quality greaseproof paper.

For six:

5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 shallots, diced
6 bay leaves, fresh if possible.
500g Good quality sweet red or yellow tomatoes, quartered if large, or whole if small

500g good quality spaghetti (longer cooking times on packet, the better)
Sea salt, a big scoop for the pasta water.

Olive oil
Edible flowers such as day lillies, nasturtiums, courgette flowers
Pink peppercorns

Prep your garlic and shallots and 'soften' them, fry till light brown in a frying pan with olive oil. Add the bay leaves. Add a little salt (Maldons).
Add the tomatoes and fry lightly.
Set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in salty boiling water until half cooked. So if the pasta says on the packet, 9 minutes, cook for 4.5 minutes.
This is important. Don't overcook. The oven will take care of the rest.
Lay out your greaseproof paper square on a baking tin.
Drain the spaghetti and toss with the sauce. Add olive oil. Sprinkle some pink peppercorns for colour.
Dump it in the middle of the greaseproof paper. Fold over the edges carefully, sealing the bag.
Put the baking tin in the oven for 4.5 minutes.
Then serve the bag on the table, in it's baking tin or slid onto a large serving plate.
Slash open.
Stand back and bask in the applause.


  1. Looks delicious - though I've made spaghetti 'en papillotte' before, it's never looked as tidy as yours!

  2. Your Spaghetti al cartoccio looks jolly gorgeous and delicious. And I agree with you about choosing quality pasta. I never skimp on pasta either. Quality pasta may cost a little more, but it's well worth it.


I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)