GENNARO Contaldo has lived in England for 50 years now, but his love of Italian cuisine is as strong as ever; his latest cooking book is dedicated entirely to the country's national dish - pasta.

Here are three recipes to try at home.


Most of us don't bother making our own pasta - after all, buying the dried version from the supermarket is just so easy. However, Gennaro Contaldo wants this to change.

For Contaldo, making your own pasta dough is simple, cheap and tasty - and this dish is the perfect place to start.


(Serves 4)

For the pasta dough:

200g Italian '00' pasta flour, sifted

2 large free-range organic eggs

For the tonnarelli with Pecorino Romano and black pepper:

2tbsp black peppercorns

160g Pecorino Romano, very finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Make the pasta dough. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl or heap on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre, add the eggs and mix well together to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until required.

2. Roll the pasta dough out to a thickness of about 3mm or to setting number four of your pasta machine. Feed the dough through the thick spaghetti attachment for your pasta machine. Cover the pasta with a damp dish towel and set aside while you make the sauce.

3. Heat a large dry frying pan over a high heat and briefly toast the peppercorns. Transfer the peppercorns to a pestle and mortar and crush until fine. Put the crushed pepper back into the frying pan, but keep off the heat.

4. Put the Pecorino cheese into a bowl and set aside.

5. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the tonnarelli pasta and cook for just under two minutes, until al dente. As the pasta begins to cook, scoop out a ladleful of the pasta water and add to the frying pan with the pepper, set over a medium heat.

6. Take another couple of ladlefuls of pasta water and add the bowl with the Pecorino, mixing well until you obtain a creamy mixture.

7. When the pasta is cooked, use a pair of tongs to transfer it to the frying pan. Increase the heat to high and cook for one minute. Remove the frying pan from the heat, add the cheesy mixture to the pasta and mix until well combined. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of grated Pecorino and some more freshly ground black pepper.


This penne dish comes from Trapani, which is found on the coast of Sicily is one that requires little effort and few ingredients, but packs a huge punch in the flavour department.

Contaldo's top tip? "I never put tomatoes in the fridge," he says. "They're always hanging up." If you want your tomatoes to last longer and keep a sweet and juicy flavour, find a hook somewhere in your kitchen where you can suspend a bunch. Tasty - and doubles as a pretty ornament.


(Serves 4)

3 yellow (bell) peppers

4 oval-shaped tomatoes, such as San Marzano

4tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 red (bell) pepper, thinly sliced

350g penne pasta

A handful of parsley or basil, finely chopped

40g Pecorino, shaved

Sea salt


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

2. Put the yellow (bell) peppers into a roasting pan and dry-roast in the hot oven for about 35 minutes, until the skin is golden-brown and the peppers have softened.

3. Meanwhile, bring some water to the boil. Submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for two minutes, then drain, remove the skins and seeds, and finely chop the flesh. Set aside.

4. When the yellow peppers are ready, carefully remove the skins and seeds, and roughly chop the flesh. Set aside.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, add the garlic and chilli, and sweat for one minute. Add the red (bell) peppers and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until the peppers have softened. Stir in the roasted yellow peppers and tomatoes, add some salt and stir-fry over a high heat for one minute. Reduce the heat back to medium, cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes, while you cook the pasta.

6. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente (check the instructions on your packet for cooking time).

7. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the peppers along with a little of the cooking water and mix well to combine while still on the heat. Stir in the parsley, then remove from the heat and serve with shavings of Pecorino cheese.


A zingy quick, mid-week dinner.

Think pesto is just about basil? Think again.

An easy way to experiment is with this citrus version, which uses oranges as well as basil, almonds, pistachios and olive oil for a refreshing paste. Contaldo pairs it with spirali, which has a slightly looser spiral than fusilli.


(Serves 4)

2 oranges, peeled

2tbsp capers

1tsp dried oregano

1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole

325g spirali pasta

A large handful of basil leaves

50g blanched almonds

50g cup shelled pistachio nuts

2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Zest of 1 orange, to serve

Zest of 1 lemon, to serve


1. Using a sharp knife, segment the peeled oranges by cutting between the segment walls, discarding the pith but keeping any juice that collects.

2. Put the segments and juice into a large bowl, add the capers, oregano, garlic and a pinch of salt, stir to combine and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the spirali until al dente (check the instructions on your packet for cooking time).

4. Put the basil leaves, almonds, pistachio nuts, olive oil and the infused orange mixture into a food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy.

5. Drain the spirali, mix with the citrus pesto and serve immediately, sprinkled with the orange and lemon zest.

* Gennaro's Pasta Perfecto! by Gennaro Contaldo, photography by David Loftus, is published by Pavilion Books, priced £18.99. Available now.