[VIDEO] Tagliatelle with a pancetta, red pesto, mushroom and asparagus sauce

It would be no understatement to say that we eat at least two pastas per week in this house. We were doing so long before we started baby led weaning with Archie but from day one with him we realised that pasta meals give us the perfect mix of ease of preparation, interesting textures, diverse strong flavours and low cost.

I try to vary things as much as possible with the pastas I make. When we started solids with Archie, we stuck to large shapes which he could hold, such as penne and fusili. Now he will eat anything we give him and I would say that no two pastas dishes are ever the same here. They are just a perfect opportunity to enjoy whatever vegetables, meat or fish we have to hand.

In the early days, Archie was very heavily dairy allergic and it used to break my heart to have to refuse him parmesan. The soya alternatives are okay but not a touch on the real stuff. He was given the all clear at 18 months old and has really been making up for lost time! As I said in the risotto post, we buy big slabs of aged parmesan at our local Costco wholesale store. Not only does this mean we get deliciously strong mature cheese, it is also way cheaper than even the basic stuff at a supermarket. My little food snob makes me laugh now when he turns his nose up at the dry processed parmesan if ever he gets served it somewhere!

He has been comfortable using his own spoons and forks since around 10 months old but a recent addition is copying the way we twirl our pasta! I have had many requests to see him eating what we make so, while trying to maintain his privacy, I have added a little clip at the end due to popular demand!

Tagliatelle with a pancetta, red pesto, mushroom and asparagus sauce
Preparation time 5 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes
These quantities fed two adults and Archie, with seconds and a portion for his lunch the next day!

300g tagliatelle
One large onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
100g/4oz cubed pancetta (or any other smoked bacon)
A 300g/ 12oz bundle of asparagus, cut into 2cm long spears.
175g/ 6 oz sliced chestnut mushrooms
Tomato purée
3 tbsp of good quality green pesto (yes, green pesto! It goes red when you add the tomato purée)

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a large pinch of salt (we did this even when Archie was only 6 months old)
  2. Add the tagliatelle, bring back to the boil and leave to cook as per the instructions on the packet. When Archie was very little, we used to cook the pasta for maybe 4 minutes longer than it said in the instructions, just to make it a little softer.
  3. Heat up a dry frying pan and fry the pancetta cubes until they start to lose their fattiness and go a little brown. Remove them from the pan and put them to one side.
  4. Add a little olive oil (you will not need much as the pancetta will have left its fat in the pan) and gently soften and cook the onion and garlic until they go golden.
  5. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and continue to stir and cook until the asparagus is soft. This will take between 4 – 5 minutes. You can of course cook them for longer if you are keen for them to be extremely soft.
  6. Mix in the pesto and then 2 or 3 good squirts of tomato purée. The sauce will turn a nice, rich rusty colour.
  7. Ladle some of the pasta’s cooking liquid into the sauce to loosen it up. Cover the sauce to simmer gently for 30 seconds.
  8. Meanwhile, drain the pasta and run some cold water through it to avoid it sticking.
  9. Toss the pasta into the hot sauce, season it and serve immediately with loads of parmesan. We also find adding some cayenne pepper at the end works really well to although Archie is less of a fan!

15 Comments

  1. Brilliant! I love Archie helping you and so does Izzy and we are looking forward to trying out your newest recipe yum yum yum! I particularly love Archie’s chef’s hat…awesome! keep up the good work honey you’re inspirational and I almost had a little blub I am so proud to see you doing this after all your hard work xxx

    Reply
  2. You of course mean red (not green) pesto in your recipe list, Nick? ;-)

    Reply
  3. Another little gem. What a lucky boy Archie is, he will have some lovely memories of cooking with you when he is older. I think the way you patiently work with his "help" is so sweet too. And to see him greedily twirling up and gobbling his pasta at the end was a real treat, what a pro with the fork!

    Reply
  4. So sorry to hear about Archie’s allergy! Our daughter is also severely allergic to dairy, which means no dairy for me either! I’d really love some suggestions for tasty dairy-free dishes. So far I’ve muddled along using the internet but I miss cheese something chronic, and I find myself sticking to safe dishes instead of branching out and getting adventurous.
    Although, I’d throw adventurous out the window if you had a magical recipe for dairy free milk chocolate! Christmas will not be a happy time in this household without chocolate, I can tell you that!

    Reply
  5. :-) Finally made it on here. Looks fantastic! Love it! Alex is so similar to Archie in the way they get involved. Makes for interesting meal times to say the least. Great meal idea too, will be giving this one a go soon! :-)

    Reply
  6. Wow, isn’t Archie good at twirling his fork to load the pasta? And isn’t he so good generally? If I chatted to a video camera whilst cooking with Millie she’d be yelling “stop talking!” which is what she does if I ahve the cheek to talk to anyone other than her ;)
    This recipe is inspirational – again! Well done, I’m loving this blog, it’s such a superb idea and one you have managed brilliantly!

    Reply
  7. We had this for a birthday tea and it was fantastic. Asparagus was BOGOF so will be having it later in the week too!

    Reply
    • I know, I was very nervous when you said you were making it for your OH's birthday!! Very relieved that it was tasty!!

      Reply
  8. Thanks Fothers!! Yes, I noticed you said you were making it for a birthday tea, that made me very nervous. As for asparagus, it is a really good time of the year to buy it, as you say, it is really good value… Thanks for coming to the blog!!

    Reply
  9. I made this tonight with broccoli, portobello mushrooms and penne, as that's what I had on hand. It was just fantastic, so yummy! And the little ones slurped it down like crazy too. Keep it up, these recipes are great and I love watching Archie help you!

    Reply
    • Thanks Molly, I love hearing success stories!! Believe it or not, when I started the blog, I hadn't quite connected with the fact that people were (of course!) going to be making them themselves. It still feels kind of surreal when I hear of people making the dishes!! Glad you are enjoying the blog…

      Reply
  10. Hi Nick, definitely going to try this recipe! Just a quick question, how do you start training Archie to use the spoon and fork himself? My 10 month old has been having pureed/mashed food but she loves her finger food! I just stumbled across this "baby led weaning" approach, and am very keen to try. But just not sure whether she can feed herself at this age? Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Hi Jessica, I am not sure we "trained" Archie as such but he was definitely picking up a spoon from around 8 months old. It took him a good while after that to master it though! I think we had a pretty low mess threshold so, although he was mainly feeding himself with his hands, we didn't worry too much about food falling on the floor (and elsewhere!). We found that by having him at the table with us, he wanted to copy what we were doing… there is a lot of information and advice about this on the baby led weaning forum at http://www.babyledweaning.com/forum... all the best, Nick

      Reply
  11. This is a great video and a recipe I must try! We eat pasta a couple of times a week, so keen to expand my pesto repetoire! ;) Love Archie devouring it at the end! :)

    Reply
  12. This is definitely one to try!! We've just had it, my 5 year old helped me chop mushrooms and asparagus and did a grand job! Was really tasty and so easy! She even ate it! Tho did leave the chunks – don't be offended, she's a fusspot! Her little brother enjoyed it too! Will be going in my recipe collection! Bluebelly and Lemon Drizzle cake is in the oven!!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>