White Bean and Silverbeet Spaghetti

A Vegan surprise…

Whether you like it or not vegan food and therefore vegans are here to stay. So if you can’t meat them you join them! Vegan food, when done right can be delicious and filling, saving you a trip to McDonalds later. Given the increasing popularity of this food religion, I am slowly trying to build a repertoire of recipes which are not only vegan friendly but also packed with loads of flavour. Leaves in a bowl with a can of chickpeas and a squeeze of lemon is definitely not my idea of a vegan meal.

The pasta recipe below is a good way to incorporate one vegan dish a week in your meal plan. Al dente spaghetti tossed together with creamy butter beans and earthy silverbeet (you can use spinach in place of silverbeet), flavoured with extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli, parsley and finished off with fresh lemon juice. Now if this isn’t a flavour bomb I don’t know what is.

Ingredients:    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of spaghetti
  • 400 gms of tinned white butter beans
  • One bunch of silverbeet or spinach (stalks included), finely chopped
  • One small onion, finely sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One red chilli, finely sliced
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley (stalks included), finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

Cook spaghetti as per packet instructions.

Heat two to three tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add onion, once translucent add garlic, handful or parsley stalks and red chilli. Cook until aromatic.

Toss in the butter beans and pan sear on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly charred. Turn the flame to medium and add the silverbeet.  Season with salt and cook until the silverbeet stalks are al dente.

Now add half the lemon juice to the silverbeet and bean mix. Toss until evenly mixed.

Finally add the spaghetti, remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well and tada! Garnish with cracked black pepper and vegan cheese or parmesan if you are not going vegan the whole way. Either way, it truly is a lip smackingly delicious vegan surprise.

 

Fridge Clean Out Pasta

A little bit of this, a little bit of that


Some days you can plan all you want but nothing goes to plan. Most days in the life of a stay at home mum are like this. Since baby number two has come along, all I seem to be doing is feeding him and trying to stop my toddler from poking his baby brothers eyes out. The struggle is real!

Amidst all this craziness I find taking out even 15 minutes to cook gives me composure and peace. After all when you do what you love you are one step closer to nirvana! Today I was all set on making my husband his favourite chicken schnitzel with mash potatoes and roast vegetables. Only problem was I had none of the ingredients in the fridge. Talk about things not going to plan!

While last minute food shopping was out of the question! Yes you do lose basic liberties like running out to the shops on a whim when you are a parent. My 15 minute window to put a meal on the table was rapidly closing too. After ransacking the fridge and pantry, I managed to pull together – a pack of spaghetti, a punnet of grape tomatoes, handful of kalamata olives,  capers, half a bunch of parsley and a bag of frozen peas. There was only one way this was going, we were heading to Italy (well metaphorically anyway) with a big bowl of pasta.

 

Ingredients: 12  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of pasta (I used spaghettini)
  • One punnet of grape/cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 250 gms of peas
  • Handful of olives, cut into halves
  • Two tablespoons of capers 
  • Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • Three to four garlic pods, finely chopped
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt to season 
  • Cracked black pepper to garnish (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan to garnish (optional)

In a heavy bottom sauce pan bring water to a boil. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, in another saucepan heat three tablespoons of EVOO. Add garlic, once aromatic add onions and cook until onions are lightly caramelised. Then add half of the chopped parsley, along with the olives and capers. Mix well. Cook on a low flame for four to five minutes.


Now add peas and toss the mixture thoroughly. Once peas are slightly soft add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook on a high heat for two to three minutes. 

Finally add the pasta, followed by the rest of the parsley and EVOO. Toss through to make sure all the ingredients are evenly mixed. Your fridge clean out pasta is ready to serve. Garnish with cracked pepper and Parmesan. 

Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon Spaghetti

Let this heal your broken heart


Yesterday as I was prepping for dinner, Donald Trump was announced as the President of the United States. I needed a minute to digest what I had just heard, how could this be? My heart immediately reached out to all the blacks, the Muslims, the women, the lgbt community. What would happen to their American dream?

My hangry, screaming toddler got me to snap out of my downward spiralling thoughts. Yep, hurry up Mum, I’m hungry, focus!! So I looked over my kitchen bench and saw half a cauliflower  staring at me. A thought crossed my mind, what if this was our last meal? After all Trump becoming President is a sign of all hell breaking loose.

What was going to be a plain old boring dinner, suddenly got very glamourous and this is how.

Ingredients:  12   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of spaghetti
  • Half a cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Half a bunch of parsley (stem included), finely chopped
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • Five to six pods of garlic, crushed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1.5 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1.5 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Cracker pepper to taste
  • Goats cheese for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius.


In a baking dish assemble the cauliflower florets. Add three crushed garlic pods, sprinkle with chilli flakes and smoked paprika. Drizzle about three to four tablespoons of olive oil. Bake the cauliflower for 20 – 25 minutes until slightly charred and crispy.

Bring water to a boil in a stock pot and cook pasta as per packet instructions.

In another saucepan, heat remaining olive oil. Add remaining garlic, once aromatic add onion and half the parsley (mostly chopped stems). Cook this mixture for four to five minutes.


Now toss in the spaghetti into the onion mixture, followed by lemon juice and season with salt. Mix the spaghetti well. Then add the roasted cauliflower and gently toss the pasta. Add more olive oil if the pasta looks dry.

Garnish with the remaining parsley, cracked pepper and goats cheese.

As you eat dinner tonight spare a thought for all the people in the world, send out positive vibes and always spread goodwill and love.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese 

My vegetarian bolognese brings all the Italian Nonnas to the yard…

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Everytime I go to an Italian restaurant I’m so tempted to order Nonnas homestyle spaghetti bolognese. After all there is nothing more comforting than rustic homestyle Italian food. The only problem is that a classic bolognese sauce is cooked with mince meat, which makes it a deal breaker for me. Not anymore! I can have my bolognese and can eat it too.

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This vegetarian bolognese packs the rustic Ialian homestyle flavourful punch, no animals were harmed or killed in its making and it’s just so easy.  You could make a big batch and freeze it too for ready to eat meals on weeks nights when cooking is the last thing on your mind.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400 gms of canned brown lentils
  • 300 gms of firm tofu, crumbled
  • One red onion, finely chopped
  • Two medium Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 400 gms of canned tomatoes or Pasata
  • Three to four pods of garlic, minced
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon chilli powder
  • Two teaspoons of sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Four tablespoons of olive oil
  • One litre of vegetable stock

Drain the lentils, thoroughly rinse them  and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Once aromatic add garlic and onion, cook until onions are lightly caramelised.

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Now add tomatoes, Passata and all the dried herbs and spices, mix well. Add crumbled tofu, cover the pot and cook the ingredients on a medium for seven to ten minutes.


Once the tofu is soft, add the stock and lentils. Mix well, cover the pot and cook the sauce of a low heat for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir the sauce from time to time to help break the protein and infuse the flavour thoroughly.


Season with salt and mix well. Let the sauce simmer for another five to seven minutes. In the meantime cook spaghetti as per packet instructions.

To serve toss the sauce with pasta and ladle a generous serve on top. Garnish with cracked pepper and grated Parmesan. I can guarantee this spaghetti will bring all the Italian Nonnas to the yard and you can say – Damn right it is better than yours!

Prawn linguine

Something special for those special occasions…

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. I woke up to a beautiful present, he bought me flowers, came home early from work, settled the babies for the night and finally as I went to bed I found a beautiful Swarovski bracelet on my pillow. Yes, I know he’s a keeper! I really hit the jackpot when I married him.

 Earlier we would have gone out to dinner, wined and dined till the wee hours of the morning. Now that wouldn’t go down too well with our eight month old boy and his furbling. Needless to say then our stay at home dinner had to be something special.

One of my husband’s favourite dishes is my prawn linguine. A touch of wine, a touch of chilli, loads of garlic and of course succulent prawns. What’s not to love? So if you are looking to celebrate something special in the comfort of your own home then this is the dish for you.

  
Ingredients: 10  cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of linguine pasta
  • 400 gms of prawns, shelled and deveined 
  • Three ripe truss tomatoes, chopped
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley, chopped
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • 250ml of white wine ( I used a riesling)
  • Five tablespoons of olive oil
  • One teaspoon of red chilli flakes
  • Salt to season
  • Cracked black pepper to garnish

Cook pasta as per packet instructions until al dente. In another pot heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a pot. Add garlic and chilli flakes, cook until aromatic.

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Now add tomatoes, parsley (some some for garnish). Cook tomatoes until slightly soft. Then add white wine, lemon juice and let the sauce simmer for three to four minutes on a low heat.

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Add the prawns and mix well. Season with salt. Once the prawns start to change colour and start getting orange add the pasta. Toss the pasta well to ensure the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Finally add remaining olive oil, you can use more olive oil if the pasta looks dry.

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Your lip smackingly delicious prawn linguine is ready to serve. It’s best enjoyed with a garnish of cracked pepper, a wedge of lemon and of course more wine.

    

Roasted pumpkin and pine nut spaghetti

Why do boring when you can do flavourful… 

I am a morning person but dinner is my favourite meal of the day. It’s the one meal my husband and I eat together, whilst chatting about our day, watching our favourite tv show or simply drinking a glass of wine.

Even after so many years my husband gets so excited about my cooking. His face lights up when he asks ‘what’s for dinner?’ One of the reasons why I love cooking so much is because he enjoys eating so much.

My cooking routine is simple. Pour a glass of wine, crank up ‘French cafe radio’ on Pandora and rustle through my fridge and pantry for flavourful combinations. The other day I found a beautiful cut of Kent pumpkin, baby green peas and goats cheese in my fridge. To compliment these ingredients, I had smoked paprika and pine nuts in my pantry. There were many different ways these ingredients could have ended up but I had only one dish in my mind – PASTA!

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Ingredients: 14 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of pasta, I used spaghettini 
  • Half a pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • One cup of green peas, fresh or frozen
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped 
  • Two tablespoons of fresh mint, finely chopped 
  • Two tablespoons of pinenuts, toasted 
  • Two tablespoons smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon of dried oregano
  • One teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • Five to six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season
  • Cracked black pepper to garnish
  • Handful of goats cheese, crumbled for garnish (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a baking dish add cubed pumpkin. In another bowl add about three tablespoons of olive oil, smoked paprika, oregano and chilli flakes. Mix well and pour this dressing on the pumpkin. Mix well and roast in the oven until charred and soft. Keep aside.

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In a saucepan bring water to a boil and cook pasta as per packet instructions.

In another pan heat remaining olive oil. Add garlic, cook until aromatic. Then add onions and cook until translucent. Now add peas, mint and remaining smoked paprika. Cook until peas are tender.

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Now mix in the cooked pasta. Toss the ingredients well to evenly mix all the flavour. Add a little olive oil if it appears to dry.

By this stage you will be tempted to devour the pasta as it is, but fight that temptation. Remember good things come to those who wait!

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Drop the cooked pumpkin into the spaghetti. Gently toss it so as to avoid breaking it. Don’t fret if some of the pieces begin to crumble, it will give the spaghetti a saucy, creamy texture. Add the toasted pine nuts, cracked and crumbled goats cheese to garnish. Feel free to avoid goats cheese for a vegan friendly dish.

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Your lip smackingly delicious spaghetti is ready to be served. Serve alongside a heavy bodied Shiraz and enjoy.

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Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti

If I was born in any other country, it would be Italy…

  

There is nothing better than an al dente, flavour packed pasta. Add to that a cooking time of 15 minutes, things are already looking great.

I love using assorted mushrooms to make this dish. Different textures and flavours make it a quick weeknight meal to reckon with.

So all you Italian Nonnas out there you better watch out, gone are the days to slave away in the kitchen. 15 minute meals are here to stay!

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Ingredients: 12  Cooking time:

Serves: 4

  • One packet of spaghetti 
  • One punnet of button mushrooms, sliced
  • One punnet of porcini mushrooms, dried or fresh
  • Two to three medium sized portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • One medium brown onion, finely sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Half a bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped 
  • 250 ml of cooking cream
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt to season
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish 
  • Fresh baby rocket to garnish (optional)

Cook pasta as per packet instructions and keep aside.

In another pan heat EVOO. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add sliced onions and cook on medium heat for two to three minutes or until lightly browned.

Add all the mushrooms, including any stock and mix well. I recommend using dried porcini mushrooms, their stock adds a real intense and delicious mushroomy flavour to the dish. Simply soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water for seven to ten minutes or until soft. Cook the mushrooms on a medium heat for five to seven minutes. Now add fresh parsley and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for five minutes.


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Now add the spaghetti and toss it well. Ensure the creamy mushroom sauce coats all the pasta evenly. Check for seasoning and add more if required.


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Your lip smackingly delicious pasta is ready to serve. Garnish with grated Parmesan, cracked pepper and fresh rocket. 


 

Green Goddess Pasta

It’s going to be an evergreen summer…

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One of the best things about living in Australia is the amazing community support. Since having baby SK we have had midwives visit us at home, periodic visits to check on his development by the maternal child health nurse and finally being connected to other mothers with babies of similar age.

Baby SK and I have a great time at our mothers group. Little people all intrigued by each other and mums who are going through the same trials and tribulations and celebrating the same milestones. It’s a perfect setup for new friendships. 

I invited one of my friend and her gorgeous baby girl from mothers group for lunch. The weather gods were not going to be kind I already knew. It was going to be 37 degrees so lunch had to be refreshing but also easy to eat. So I decided to make a pesto pasta and a salad.

Last thing I wanted on a hot day was a greasy oily pesto. Adding lemon juice took the pesto a gazillion notches up. So without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients: 10   Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 400 gms of pasta (I used farfalle pasta)
  • One bunch of basil
  • 100 gms of toasted pine nuts
  • 125 gms of grated Parmesan cheese (extra for garnish)
  • 150 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Two pods of garlic
  • One globe of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • One large zucchini, peeled into ribbons
  • Salt to season

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For the pesto, use fresh basil.  Wash the basil leaves and pat them dry. Drying the basil leaves maintains the green colour of the pesto.

In a food processor combine basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and lemon juice. Blitz all the ingredients until smooth, add more oil and lemon juice if needed. 

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions and keep aside.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Add minced garlic, cook until aromatic. Now add the broccoli florets, cook until slightly tender. Then add the zucchini ribbons. Cook for another three to four minutes. 

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Now add the pasta and toss all the ingredients. Then add four to five tablespoons of pesto and mix well. Season with salt as required. 

Your lip smackingly delicious green goddess pasta is now ready to serve. Delicious to eat and so simple to make. Try this on a busy weeknight or a lazy weekend, you won’t be disappointed. 

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Spaghetti Napoli – My Way

Simplicity, Flavour and Ease…all in one…

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Recently I was looking at my wedding and honeymoon photos. Someday I really wish I could go back in time and relive those days. Surrounded by family and friends, dressed in glamorous clothes, eating unbelievably amazing food and then travelling around Europe with my husband. Oh what bliss! We went to France, Italy, Greece and Austria, mesmerised by each country my husband and I really did not want to come back.

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I was really excited about Italy, primarily because I love Italian food and could not wait to try the local cuisine. My obsession with Italian food started quite young but back in those days it was hard to find those fresh and authentic Italian flavours in India. Everything from pizza to pasta was loaded with chilli and oregano and because I knew no better I loved it just as it was. 

I discovered authentic Italian flavours when I moved to Australia and met my sister-in-law and her family. Their food is simple and uncomplicated yet it packs so much of a flavour punch that each bite is like a party in your mouth. Similarly in my travels around Italy it wasn’t the fancy meals that I enjoyed but the simple ones, using a few ingredients and cooked with love. Add to that the beautiful red wine from the region, the warmth and passion of the locals, I was truly in food heaven.

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Today’s pasta dish is inspired by those simple yet bold and fresh Italian flavours. Spaghetti Napoli was my go to dish when we were in Naples. The sweet tomatoes, fresh herbs and al dente spaghetti gosh I never seemed to get enough of it. My version has a bit of a twist, I am using the freshness of mint to elevate this dish to the next level. Believe me when I say tomato and mint is a match made in heaven.

Ingredients: 8    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 250 gms of spaghetti
  • Five medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • Four to five pods of garlic, roughly chopped
  • One tablespoon of capers
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Five to six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

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In a deep saucepan bring water to a boil, add salt, followed by the spaghetti and cook as per packet instructions. Until al dente.

To make the sauce, heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add the roughly chopped garlic and cook until aromatic. Once the oil is aromatic, you can remove the garlic if you don’t like chunks of garlic through your pasta.

Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes until the tomatoes are soft. 

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Next add capers, fresh mint leaves and season with salt as desired. If you are not fan of capers you can replace them with olives.

Finally add the pasta and toss through, ensuring the sauce is evenly coating the spaghetti. If serving this dish to kids you can replace the spaghetti with penne or fusilli pasta as it would be less messy when the little ones eat.

To serve garnish with grated Parmesan cheese or just cracked pepper for a vegan friendly option. Serve hot alongside some garlic bread or a simple green salad.

Enjoy this Italian sensation with a glass of red and the company of your family and friends.

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Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Linguine

Yet another glamourous vegetarian meal…

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Being an avid foodie I love eating delicious food, but also pushing the boundaries when cooking. Professionally I work in human resources where everything is done procedurally by the book, so I find my creative outlet through cooking. I love trying different herbs, spices, vegetables to create my culinary masterpieces. Coincidentally the results are always, well almost always very rewarding.

My dream is to someday own an all vegetarian restaurant, showcasing vegetarian dishes from around the world. The key to delicious vegetarian meals is always using fresh produce that is in season. Another important tip is know your herbs and spices and the only way to learn all about them is by incorporating them in your everyday cooking.

Today’s recipe is about showcasing the delicious pumpkin we currently have in season in Melbourne. Nothing says winter like a warm hearty pumpkin soup, but today we are stepping the humble pumpkin up a notch with a lip smackingly delicious linguine. 

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Ingredients: 19  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of linguine pasta
  • Half a butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • Three truss tomatoes, cubed
  • Eight to ten kalamata olives, pitted and diced
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Five to six pods of garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
  • One tablespoon smoked paprika powder
  • One teaspoon red chilli powder
  • One teaspoon of cumin powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Six to eight sprigs of fresh rosemary 
  • Six to eight sprigs of fresh oregano 
  • One tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two teaspoons vinegar
For the garnish (optional)
  • Four eggs
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese
  • Two teaspoons toasted black sesame seeds
  • Fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a baking dish add the pumpkin, tomatoes, olives, onion and garlic. Sprinkle the spices and tear up the fresh herbs, if you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can use dried rosemary and oregano (one tablespoon each approximately). Add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, season with salt and pepper as desired and toss all the ingredients. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.

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Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Once the veggies and the pasta are cooked, toss the linguine thoroughly and ensure the pasta is coated with the ingredients evenly.

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For the garnish I have used a poached egg, which gives this dish another flavour element and combined with the other ingredients it becomes a lip smackingly delicious sauce. To poach an egg, start by individually cracking the eggs in small bowls. Next bring water to a boil in a deep saucepan. Add vinegar, lower the heat and slide each egg one by one into the water. Depending on your pan a really runny poached egg will take two to three minutes and a medium poached egg will take about five to six minutes.

To assemble the dish plate the linguine. Place the poached egg on top and finally garnish with goats cheese, parsley and toasted black sesame seeds.

Your lip smackingly delicious Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Linguine is ready to serve. Try this dish for your next pasta night and be sure to impress family and friends.

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