Chestnut and Butternut Squash Pasta with SunBlush®
Gourmet and Chef Alex Mackay
Gourmet recently launched a brand new web site www.merchant-gourmet.com.
As well as an online store to enable you to easily order
Merchant Gourmet products a recipes section has been
created, into which video guides have being incorporated
from top chef Alex Mackay.
Merchant Gourmet was started by Mark Leatham in 1985.
He spent his time looking for the cream of the crop,
and talking about it to la crème de la crème.
Today, Merchant Gourmet now has over forty products
that you will find on the shelves of major supermarkets.
Mark is still looking for more, newer good stuff, and
working with their suppliers. The rest of the team spend
a lot of time cooking and tasting.
The range includes everything from Chestnuts to Porcini
Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Balsamic Syrup. Merchant
Gourmet wants people to use them all the time, rather
than lose them in the back of the cupboard. The big
idea is that a bit of something special can elevate
your lunch or dinner. One ingredient makes all the difference,
if you will.
For written version of recipe please
scroll down page
Mackay . . . the Cook, the Teacher, the Writer and the
is everlasting, ever changing, magical fun. I cook all
the time, very often three times a day. I cook for work,
I cook to relax, I grow things that I want to cook and
I read about how best to cook them. And I really love
to talk and write about it.
fifteen years ago Raymond Blanc called me in Bermuda
to ask me to come back to Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons
and run his Cookery School. That was the day I started
to become less of a chef and more of a cook.
days I'm learning to be a father as I write, appear
on television, run Delia Smith's Cookery Workshops at
Norwich City Football Club and spend as much time as
I can with the wonderful Kids Cookery School. And as
you can see I have also become the Merchant Gourmet
write a monthly recipe feature for Sainsbury's Magazine.
I won The Guild of Food Writers Cookery Journalist of
the Year 2006 and was runner up in 2007 and 2008. My
book "Cooking in Provence" won the Gourmand
World Cookbook award for "Best Book on French Cuisine
in English" and was in a short list of three for
"Best First Book" at the Guild of Food Writers
am a regular on Ready Steady Cook on BBC 2 and I have
featured on This Morning and Too Many Cooks on ITV.
I was a regular for five years on UKTV's Great Food
Live and made three thirteen part series for Carlton
cookery workshops at Norwich City Football Club with
Delia Smith are now going into their seventh year.
started working in restaurants completely by chance
after being asked to leave school in New Zealand at
fifteen. I washed dishes for a year before starting
an apprenticeship and then as soon as I finished I bought
a one-way ticket to France. I spent nearly three years
working in the kitchens of two starred Michelin restaurants
in Burgundy, Tours and Courchevel. After this I went
to work for my great friend and mentor Raymond Blanc.
I was promoted to Sous Chef after six months. I left
a year later to get a little rest in Bermuda where at
the age of twenty-three, I was runner up in Bermuda's
Chef of the Year Awards. It was then that RB called
to ask me to the come back to Le Manoir as Director
of L'École de Cuisine and Head of development
for Blanc Restaurants Ltd in charge of all its publishing
and consultancy activities.
time I spent three years at Le Manoir working on Projects
as varied as Raymond Blanc's books and food for Virgin
airlines. I then opened my own school, Le Baou d'Infer,
in Provence. It was soon placed in the world top ten
by the Sunday Times and Conde Nast Traveler as well
as being voted one of the Worlds Finest by House and
Garden Travel. The cookery school is now finished after
fulfilling its five-year plan and, apart from the first
year, always being fully booked.
projects these days are ever more varied, but food,
and people that want to learn about it are always at
live in Oxford with my wife Jess and sons Jake and James.
Smith from her foreword to Alex Mackay's book Cooking
Mackay is, first and foremost, a brilliant chef. Yet
at the same time he is much more than that. He has
a rare and special gift, which goes beyond simply
creating beautiful dishes. That gift is the ability
to teach, inspire and enthuse others who want to learn
how to cook."
Raymond Blanc from the booklet for Alex Mackay's
former Cookery School Le Baou d'Infer:
"I have watched Alex grow with great pride from
a fine chef into a fine teacher and listened with
pleasure to the many guests who have enjoyed his free
style of teaching and learnt so much in their time
with us. The sadness I feel as he leaves is overwhelmed
by the joy of seeing a pupil become a master."
CHESTNUT AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH PASTA WITH SUNBLUSH®
The squash and Chestnuts make this macaroni rich, gently
sweet and irresistible. It is also good and hearty,
perfect for the evenings as they get colder. A little
ricotta, spooned over the top, is a nice addition. The
butternut squash can be replaced with sweet potato or
1 large butternut squash (approximately 1kg), peeled,
de-seeded and chopped into 3cm cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
200g packet of Merchant Gourmet Whole Chestnuts
16 SunBlush® Tomatoes, cut in half
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
800ml-1 litre hot water
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
4 sprigs of rosemary, spikes picked from their stalks
Salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 240°C / Fan 220°C / Gas
the squash, the easiest way to do this is with a Y
shaped vegetable peeler. Toss the squash with the
oil, season and then roast for 30 minutes. You need
to remember to add the Chestnuts and SunBlush®
Tomatoes after 25 minutes
your kettle. Pop the packet of Chestnuts into a large
bowl, pour the water over the top and leave them for
5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove them from the water,
open their plastic wrapper then separate the Chestnuts
into a bowl
the meantime, put the sliced onion and garlic into
a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water. Cover
the pan then put it onto a medium heat and sweat for
5 minutes until the onions have softened
the macaroni to the saucepan and then stir in the
in 2/3 of the hot water; bring to the boil, turn down
the heat and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add more
water if the pasta begins to dry out, it should always
be slightly soupy. Turn off the heat, cover and then
leave to sit for 2 minutes
the squash, Chestnut and SunBlush® mixture from
the oven then sprinkle over the chopped rosemary
to taste, stir half of this mixture into the macaroni,
spoon into plates then scatter the remaining squash,
Chestnuts and SunBlush® Tomatoes over the top
At my house we only really need 3 portions, but there
is no point in just using a bit of the butternut,
so I make 4 portions and freeze one. This is an ideal
dish for kids as the butternut squash, Chestnuts and
SunBlush® Tomatoes are all slightly sweet. The
best pasta to make it with for younger children is
Orzo. Id also highly recommend the Chestnuts
with vegetables as a puree; so far I have used celeriac,
potato, sweet potato, parsnip, carrot and onion. The
combinations are wonderful for kids, also for grown
ups as side dishes or with stock added for soup.