Let’s face it, recipe books based around pasta aren’t exactly thin on the ground and everyone has at least one already. So should you find room for Peter Sidwell‘s new contribution? Well perhaps because his angle on pasta is ‘healthy food for busy people’

We’re all ‘busy’ nowadays aren’t we? Or so we’re told. How much of that is self-inflicted – working too late to try and impress the boss, running a taxi service for kids who have signed up to too many after school classes, trying to get to the gym when all we need to really do is eat less and walk more etc etc.

Peter looks like he could lose a few pounds himself, but I find a chef with a bit of meat on him reassuring. Same as one who smokes. Yes, yes I know, I know.

Anyway Peter is not a smoker but he does have a cookery school in Cumbria and is on telly a lot, so can be trusted to deliver recipes that work. Add to that his exhortations to mix pasta with seasonal English produce as much as possible and you have a winning combination.

He’s big on getting your store cupboard sorted so you can rustle up meals in minutes without hitting the shops and he also recommends making extra sauce so you can freeze the surplus. All sound advice.

The book is set out by seasons, which is always helpful and encourages the reader to use what’s in the shops and cheap. A dish of Spring cabbage and pancetta is simplicity itself and you know it can’t go wrong. His idea of using up spare cooked pasta in a frittata is an odd one, but probably worth a try, while baby spinach, pasta and smoked salmon is nought to plate in about ten minutes.

Dishes like Watercress, Taleggio and black pepper sound simple and tasty as do peas and parmesan (everyone has frozen peas in the house), five minute Spag Boll and Smoked Haddock carbonara are also mouth-watering. He even shows how to make your own ricotta so how cool is that?

There’s a lot of taste and common sense in this book, which is refreshing after a lot of overwrought cookery books recently, and who doesn’t enjoy a plate of great pasta?