Saturday 24 January 2015

Tangy Chorizo, Parsnip and Orange Tagliatelle

Freakishly fast yet fabulously fancy, this quirky pasta can be thrown together in no time at all, and has a taste like none other. It’s super comforting, slightly sweet, and slightly spicy. But unfortunately, much like the Matrix, no one can be told exactly how Chorizo-Parsnip-Orange-Pasta tastes… You have to eat it for yourself.

If you want to turn up the dial to 11 on the fancy-o-meter, you can try to make your own fresh pasta to go with it, like in this Oxtail and Pappardelle recipe. But the beauty of this dish is in its speed, and dried pasta works just fine.

The extraordinarily perceptive amongst you may have spotted that I’ve used green tagliatelle. It should be noted that green pasta of any kind is neither healthier nor (as you may have been led to believe) more eco-friendly than ordinary pasta. Practically a breach of deceptive labelling laws, if you ask me. The tiny amount of spinach used for colouring is simply for a bit of flair. And don’t the green and orange just go marvellously together? Excuse me for a moment while I salute the Irish flag, as is customary when weeping tears of pure patriotic pride.

Slightly less customary is putting orange juice in your pasta, but that’s exactly what I’ve done here. It’s a real kick in the ass for your tastebuds, which I love. And if that’s not something you love too, boy are you in the wrong corner of the internet. So… ready to have your mind blown?

Heck, I’m up for anything. Let’s give it a shot!

1) Scrub parsnips, remove cores if necessary, and cut into matchsticks. Start heating oil in a pan.

2) Thinly slice chorizo and fry for a minute. Add the parsnips and fry both until a little crispy.

3) Add some chilli flakes, fresh thyme, salt, pepper and sliced onion. Lower heat to soften the onion.

4) Cook tagliatelle in salted boiling water. Complicated, I know.

5) Squeeze a big orange’s juices into the frying pan, and stir in a big blob of crème fraîche.

6) Drain the pasta and mix straight into the sauce. Finito!

Crazy, right!? But it tastes awesome, and goes great with a coating of parmesan and extra pepper.

Nuh uh. No way, no how, am I messing about with sticking fruit in my pasta.

Well I can’t force you. But then you’re kinda missing out on a lot of awesome stuff. Fancy-ass cooking isn’t really about having technical proficiency. It’s about having balls. Or ovaries, whatever. It’s about doing stuff you’ve never tried before. That maybe even no one has tried before. Even when you don’t know how it’ll work out. It’s adventurousness. Which is totally a word. And also an attitude that’ll serve you well in a lot more places than just the kitchen. If you catch my drift. WINK.

So if you do wanna give this a shot, but you just need a little more instruction, keep reading for a walkthrough. A cooking walkthrough. Other websites can help with the outside-the-kitchen stuff.

Ingredients (serves 2-3) - €5.50

  • 300g young parsnips (~400g if old)
  • 100g chorizo
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large orange
  • 60ml crème fraîche (or cream works well too, if you’ve got that)
  • 200g tagliatelle (green, for style points)
  • extra salt for the pasta water

If you’re using spicy chorizo, you can leave out the chilli flakes, as it’ll probably be hot enough as it is. If you don’t want to use green pasta for some unfathomable reason (or you just can’t find it), but still want the splash of colour, swap the onion for a leek.

    Start by scrubbing the parsnips and trimming off the ends. Smallish young ones are better, because the larger, older ones will have tough skins and rough, fibrous cores. A lot like people. It’s a good idea to peel tough skins and those cores will definitely need to be cut out (which is why you need more parsnips if they’re older, to make up for lost weight after coring). Check young ones for tough cores too, and remove if necessary. Just cut them down the middle and use your nail to poke the outer area, then the centre. The outer area should be spongey, and if the core is noticeably much tougher, cut it out. Either way, once you’re done cut them into long matchsticks. The official term would be julienning, but really that’s more precise than what we’re going for here. Just try to get each of the thin sticks of parsnip to roughly the same thickness. Don't worry about length, just do whatever is manageable.

    If you suck at cutting, and you’re left with chunky, uneven sticks of parsnip that more closely resemble random twigs than matchsticks, don’t worry. I got you covered with this useful hack. Put all of the parsnip bits into a bowl and stick ‘em in the microwave for a minute. Give them a mix around and then put them back in for another minute. This is just to cook the inside of the parsnips a little, as they might not cook the whole way through if we just fry them when they’re on the thick side. After re-heating food and baking potatoes, par-cooking like this is the next best use for a microwave. It cuts down on cooking times and it lets you add things to stir-fry dishes that you normally couldn’t. Pretty slick, huh?

    Back to the main event. Start bringing the olive oil to a medium heat in a large frying pan. While it’s heating, grab your chorizo and a knife. Slash a shallow cut down the side and peel off the condom foreskin casing. Once the poor little thing’s all nekkid, lay it down and slice it into very thin rounds. Think mini pepperoni, like for a pizza. Throw the chorizo into the hot pan and fry for about a minute, before adding the parsnip. Toss everything around in the oil, stirring until the parsnips go soft and floppy. Then leave them to crisp up on one side, for about 2 minutes.

    In the meantime, fill a pot with water, whack a lid on it and stick it on to boil. Strip the tiny leaves off of the thyme sprigs by running your pinched thumb and forefinger up the length of it, and roughly chop ‘em a little smaller. Scatter them into the frying pan, followed by the chilli flakes, the salt and the pepper. Stir everything around, then leave it alone to crisp some more.

    Peel the onion and cut it in half from top to bottom. Slice it into thin strips, following that same line, top to bottom. Imagine you’re making onion wedges, only much thinner. And imagine onion wedges are actually a thing, that’ll help this analogy work much better. Add them to the pan, stir, and turn the heat right down low. The onions only need to soften, not crisp. Every couple of minutes give the pan a stir just to keep anything from sticking or burning.

    Once your pot of water’s boiling, toss in roughly 1-2 teaspoons of salt and then the tagliatelle. Don’t worry, the majority of that salt will end up down the sink when you drain the pasta. Cook for however long the pasta packet says. Usually around 8 minutes. Always be tasting though, so that you know when it's almost cooked.

    About a minute before the pasta is done, squeeze your orange (separating out the pulp) and pour the juice into the pan. Add the crème fraîche and stir to get it all saucy and awesome. Sausome, if you will. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the sauce, while it’s still hot and wet. Hot and wet being the preferable state for most things, so it should be easy to remember. The extra bit of starchy moisture will benefit the sauce, which will also be absorbed more readily by the hot pasta than it would if the pasta were cool.

    Toss the pasta and sauce together, and once it all seems fairly evenly mixed, it’s ready to go! It’s wicked good as it is, but if you want to give it a little something extra, stir in a bit of grated parmesan and crack some more pepper on top. Bam!

(I kinda feel obliged to write something down here at this point, but really there’s nothing much to say. Flibbity boop, shoop da whoop.)


  1. This seems WEIRD at first, but also possibly delicious! Parsnips are so tasty I think, so this is going to be great when I give it a try! Sweet!

  2. Ok, first of all - sorry for stalking all over your blog and then spamming you! But we made this for dinner last night and it was SO. GOOD. At first it seems like a strange combination - some tuber, sausage, orange and creme fraiche - whaat, but it turned out so creamy and sweet, yet slightly tart and a little spicy and delicious. Will definitely make it again! So thaaaank yoooouuuu for sharing this wonderful recipe, you're brilliant!

  3. You're sucha starbar Tora! This is a recipe that I kept questioning my sanity over. I was a bit worried that I was just imagining it tastes good, and anybody else would hate it. Really relieved you guys loved it too!

    And hey, no need to apologise at all, you're livening up the place! Thanks so much for commenting!