Today is the Autumn Equinox, and as if by magic, leaves are falling off trees and the air feels a little crisper, a little fresher; a little more like the nights will soon be drawing in.
Being a summer baby, this is not my favourite time of year, so I’ve compensated by creating a new huge bowl of pasta. I’ve been meaning to experiment with a vegetarian ragu (although technically the definition of ragu is something that contains meat) for absolutely ages, but the change of season felt like an appropriate moment.
Warning – this is not the most beautiful plate of food. However, it’s absolutely worth it for the taste: Perfect warming food for that transition into autumn. Soft leeks, hearty tomatoes and a touch of crème fraiche for richness.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
- Half a large leek, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- Half a can of white beans –I used cannellini but any small white bean will do
- Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
- 1 – 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche
- A glug of olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Parmesan or vegetarian parmesan, to serve
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on a low-medium heat and add the leek. Allow it to cook slowly for around 5-10 minutes or until it’s softened. Add the crushed garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes, if using, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until everything is soft and fragrant.
Add the chopped tomatoes,and an equivalent amount water by filling up the can and adding it. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes before adding the white beans. Season with salt and pepper, then, cook on a low-medium heat for around 20 minutes, or until the ragu has reduced and become a shade darker in colour.
Just before serving, turn off the heat and stir through the crème fraiche. Check the seasoning again, adjusting to taste, and serve, on pasta, with a handful of the grated cheese.