Sian Redgrave is an Australian cook, stylist and food writer, whose work is influenced by her deep interest in fashion, art and design. Using food as an expressive medium and a means of connection, Sian’s approach to cooking is one that combines historical techniques and modern design with an effortlessly refined execution. Find her recipe for a classic pasta e fagioli, below.
10 ingredients you always have in your fridge?
An opened jar of anchovies, Dijon mustard, good salted butter, Parmigiano, capers, miso paste, fresh herbs, kimchi, a haul of vegetables from the market, and frozen homemade chicken broth.
What is your most memorable dining experience?
In November last year during my residency at Numero Venti, a 16th century palazzo hotel in Florence (which hosts artists, giving them a space to create). I would wake up every morning, drink a coffee and then go to the Sant'Ambrogio market to buy the most beautiful Tuscan produce to cook with. The meals prepared within such an incredible space shared with inspiring and creative people is an experience I will never forget, it felt like I had travelled back to the Renaissance.
What influenced your love of food?
From as early as I can remember I really loved cooking, most probably because I loved eating. This insatiable hunger mixed with my mothers keen interest in holistic health, and organic food meant that all meals were made from scratch and abundant in seasonal produce. I was a very creative kid, drawing, painting, building and whipping up something in the kitchen. Mum definitely ingrained in me how to nourish myself through food, and then as I got a little older I realised the creative and connectional nature of cooking. It has always been an artistic outlet and a form of meditation for me.
Who is the best cook you know?
Mona, my friend and photographer extraordinaire Georges Antoni’s mum. Her traditional Lebanese food is an expression of everything she is, generous, vibrant, comforting and full of flair. A plate of her cabbage rolls and kibbe topped with garlicky yoghurt is something I daydream of often.
Recipe for Pasta e Fagioli
Comforting to cook and nourishing to eat, beans are seriously delicious. This is my take on ‘pasta e fagioli’, an Italian classic and in my opinion, one of the best dishes ever. My version is lighter than the traditional recipe and draws flavour from Parmigiano rind, the ultimate umami bomb.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
FOR THE SAUCE
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra to serve)
- 50g salted butter
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced plus 4 additional left whole with skin on
- 2 medium sprigs of rosemary
- 500g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 500g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 500ml good quality chicken stock
- A good chunk of parmigiano rind
- 2 bay leaves
- Sea salt flakes and plenty of cracked black pepper
- 1 lemon
- Parmigiano to serve, grated
- Handful or sage leaves and a little olive oil to fry them in (optional but delicious)
FOR THE PASTA
- 400g semolina flour
- 200ml warm water
You could also use store bought cavatelli if you’re short for time
1. To start, take a large heavy based pot and add half of the butter and the olive oil. Warm over a medium heat, adding the onion and sauteeing for 10 minutes. Once the onion is translucent and soft add the minced garlic, stirring for another minute. Now in with the beans, 300ml of the stock, rosemary, parmigiano rind, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves and a couple of strips of lemon peel. I find it easiest to peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler if you're not too savvy with a knife. Allow this to gently simmer for 30 minutes, allowing the beans to soften and soak up all the flavour from the broth. While the beans are cooking, get on to the cavatelli.
2. To make the pasta, either in a bowl or straight onto a clean bench top, pour the flour and make a well in the centre. Add 3⁄4 of the warm water and then stir the flour in gradually until you form a rough dough, adding the rest of the water
if needed. Knead well for 7–10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover in cling wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Work with 1⁄4 of the dough at a time, leaving the rest covered. Roll into a long rope, around 1.5cm and then cut into 2cm pieces. Roll each piece over the back of a fork or on a gnocchi board, forming little ridges on each cavatelli.
3. Once all of the pasta is rolled, add the rest of the chicken stock to the beans, along with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the pasta is cooked (if using store bought pasta this will take longer and you may need a little extra water). Turn the heat off, fish out the rosemary and then stir in the rest of the butter. Check for seasoning.
4. Serve with plenty of finely grated lemon zest, parmigiano, a drizzle of oil and crispy sage leaves.