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. 

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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Zucchetti Puttanesca

When you feel like pasta but don’t want the calories…

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The food scene today is all about healthy eating, losing weight and looking good. Fad diets such as Paleo, Ducan, GM, etc…etc…seem to guarantee weight loss by becoming a part of our everyday lifestyle. Despite these claims few of us are able to see these diets through to the end. The burning question is why do so many diets fail?

I am no expert on diets or the causes for their failure. My theory is simple and twofold: If you feel like it you should eat it – but in moderation! If you know its bad for you – find a healthy substitute!

Its amazing what a world of difference staying away from processed foods and eating in moderation can make to your life. Today’s recipe is all about fresh healthy ingredients, it steers clear from any processed food and you can eat it to your heart’s content. Its Zucchetti!! Yep you heard that right, its like spaghetti but made from zucchini.

The sauce is a fiery and full of flavour Puttanesca! This is the perfect choice of sauce for the Indian palate, which loves hot, sour, sweet and spicy flavours. The sauce is flavoured with rosemary and accented with capers and olives. Perfect with a chilled, crisp Pinot Grigio on a hot summers day and just by itself on a bed of Zucchetti on a cold winters night!

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Ingredients: 14      Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Four to five zucchini
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • Five to six garlic pods, chopped
  • Five to six red chillies, chopped
  • One can of crushed tomatoes 
  • 10 to 12 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • Two teaspoons of capers
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese, crumbled  (optional)
  • Handful of fresh baby rocket (optional)

To make Zucchetti – wash the zucchini and cut the ends. Using a serrated peeler, peel the zucchini lengthwise. If you have any fancy gadgets that help you achieve the same result, please use them. When using the peeler, you may not be able to peel all of the zucchini. Don’t stress, simply chop the leftover zucchini as I did and use it in the sauce. This gives the dish another textural twist and of course no wastage!

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To make the Puttanesca – Heat three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Now add chilli and garlic, cook for two minutes.

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Once the onion mix is cooked, add capers, olives and leftover chopped zucchini. Give all the ingredients a good stir so the spicy garlicky flavour coats them all. Cook for five minutes on a medium heat.

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Now add crushed tomatoes, followed by rosemary leaves and cracked pepper. Season the sauce with salt and a teaspoon of sugar (the sugar balances the acidity in the tomatoes). Cover the pan with a lid and let the sauce simmer on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes.

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Add Zuccheti and using a pair of tongs gently toss it in the sauce. Cook for two to three minutes until slightly soft.

Zuccheti Puttanesca is ready to serve! Garnish with crumbled goats cheese and baby rocket. Enjoy this lip smackingly delicious dish guilt free!!!

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Spicy Coconut Egg Curry

Spice up your life…

You would have noticed the recent round of recipes has had a flavour of the subcontinent, they show my love for Indian food and the ease with which these lip smackingly delicious curries can be made. The flavours are so distinct and robust one simply can’t have enough.

I have previously showcased an egg curry recipe, it can be found here. However today’s spicy coconut egg curry is very different to the previous one. It is inspired by southern Indian flavours of curry leaves, mustard seeds and delicately flavoured coconut. The curry has a dash of spice, the chilli uplifts it to a whole new level.

You can devour this curry with light, flaky savoury parathas (recipe can be found here) or simply on a bed of steamed basmati rice. 

Ingredients: 11   Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four eggs, hard-boiled
  • One onion, chopped
  • Two tomatoes, chopped
  • 400 ml light coconut milk
  • Four-five green chillies, chopped
  • Six-eight curry leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons oil ( I used mustard oil)

Heat oil in a saucepan, I use mustard oil which really enhances the flavour of the curry. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now add curry leaves and once they crackle add chopped onion. Cook the onion until translucent.

Add tomatoes, followed by turmeric powder. Cook the onion-tomato mixture for about five to seven minutes until the tomatoes are soft.

Now add coconut milk and one cup of water. Season with salt and sugar. Cover the saucepan and let the gravy simmer on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes, until the gravy has thickened.

Using a fork prick the eggs all over gently (this will allow the curry flavours to seep into the egg when you drop it into the curry). Gently drop the boiled eggs into the curry one by one. 

Your spicy coconut egg curry is ready to be devoured. Enjoy!

Lemon Caper Spaghetti with Carrot Ribbons

Back with a bang and some lip smackingly delicious pasta…

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After a two month-long hiatus, LSD is back! Did you miss your daily dose of lip smackingly delicious food? Apologies to have kept you hanging. I was holidaying in India with my wonderful family, I was forbidden to enter the kitchen and was thoroughly spoilt with an assortment of my favourite dishes everyday. Knowing this, I am sure you can excuse my absence.

Now that I am back in Melbourne, where the weather is cold, dark and grey most days – I can’t help but rekindle my love affair with food, trying and testing recipes and bring them to you. In return I ask that you share your comments and feedback with me, because let’s be honest feedback is the motivation needed to keep LSD going.

Moving on today is monday and I am sure you’ve had enough of it already. To make your dinner woes easier today’s recipe is a quick, easy, flavour packed family meal that will keep you coming back for more. Perfect for summer or winter nights, this pasta recipe is tantalising for sure!

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Ingredients: 12      Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 500 gms of spaghetti
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Six to seven pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Two red chillies, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 teaspoons capers
  • Three carrots, peeled
  • Handful of toasted and chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
  • Five – six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • One cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and cracked pepper to season

To start let me tell you how to make carrot ribbons. Trim the ends of a peeled carrot, use a vegetable peeler to carefully slice the vegetable lengthways into long, thin ribbons. Once your carrot ribbons are ready, drizzle them with one tablespoon of lemon juice to ensure they don’t change colour.

In a saucepan bring water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook it as per packet instructions. Make sure the pasta is al-dente (i.e. has a bit of a crunch).

To make the sauce – in another pan heat three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on a medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until translucent. Now add chopped garlic and chillies and cook until you can smell the delicious garlic aromas.

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Now add the chopped parsley, capers and lemon juice. Cook this mixture for about 2 – 3 minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti and toss it so it is coated with all that delicious flavour.

Season with salt, add the remaining extra virgin olive oil and finally add the carrot ribbons. Toss the spaghetti one more time before serving.

To serve garnish the dish with cracked pepper, grated parmesan cheese and toasted macadamia nuts for that little extra crunch.

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Tamatar waale Jeera Aloo (Tomato glazed Cumin Potatoes)

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of potato…

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If there is one recipe that is a family favourite it is this one! Every time we have a get together my mother makes sure this recipe is there to grace the occasion and every time I see my mother in law this is her top request among things to eat. My husband loves jeera aloo so much that he could simply devour a bowl on its own and can eat them for days on end without any complaints.

As it is a dry dish it goes really well with Arhar ki Dal (the recipe for it can be found here) or other lentils and gravies too. When you serve it with a gravy item this dish makes a complete meal, after all the staples of any Indian meal are a curry, a dry side dish, roti breads, rice and other accompaniments such as raitas, pickles, papadums.

I can’t stress enough on how quick this dish is to make and it is so comforting, its like a warm hug on a rough day! So the next time you are wondering what to do with those potatoes in your pantry, try jeera aloo and I can most certainly guarantee it won’t disappoint.

 

Ingredients:  6  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Five to six potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • Two tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Two teaspoons cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Cut the boiled potatoes into cubes and keep aside.

In a pan heat oil and add cumin seeds, let them sizzle for about two minutes or until you smell their aroma.

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Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook them for about five to seven minutes. Once the oil starts to leave the sides of the mixture, add chopped coriander and give it all a good stir.

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Add the potatoes to the tomato mix and stir them to coat the potatoes evenly with the tangy tomato goodness. Season with salt as required and let the potatoes cook for about 10 minutes until slightly crispy.

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If your mouth is already watering just by reading the recipe and seeing the photos, I suggest you get moving and make this simple, no fuss dish for dinner tonight. Take my word it will become your family favourite too.

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Stir Fry Noodles

Keep it simple…

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Here we are again its the middle of the week and I can guarantee cooking inspiration is slowly dwindling away. While getting take away will be an option tempting most of us, lets not forget it is not hard to whip up a simple mid-week meal. All you need is a little bit of inspiration.

The key to mid-week meals is keep them simple. Choose one dish that uses a few ingredients and is quick to make. One dish that fits this brief perfectly is ‘Stir Fry’. The secret to a good stir fry is don’t put too much all at once in your wok because otherwise the ingredients start to sweat instead of frying, particularly vegetables.

My recipe today is an udon noodle stir fry with vegetables and tofu. Udon noodles are of Japanese origin and traditionally used in soups, but I love their texture and prefer them over other noodles when stir frying. So without further ado here’s my simple mid-week stir fry noodles recipe.

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Ingredients:  15        Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • One pack of udon noodles (270 gms)
  • Three spring onions, thinly sliced
  • One bunch of choi sum, leaves and stem separated
  • Two carrots, julienne
  • 150 grams of tofu cubed
  • One red capsicum sliced
  • Four to five garlic pods, finely chopped
  • One thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • One tablespoon of ABC sauce or sweet soy sauce
  • One tablespoon of siracha sauce or hot chilli sauce
  • One teaspoon of Chinese rice wine
  • Salt to taste
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • One teaspoon of sesame oil

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To start boil the noodles as per packet instructions and keep aside.

To stir fry, heat a wok on high heat and add oil. Now add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant. Add choi sum stems (you can use any other Asian greens too) stir fry for two to three minutes until bright green or just tender. Now add the choi sum leaves and stir fry until soft. Then add the carrots and peppers and toss the wok to mix all the ingredients. 

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Now add the tofu cubes and all the sauces and give the wok a good toss to evenly coat all the ingredients with the sauce. For my non vegetarian readers, you can replace the tofu with chicken or any other meat. Finally add the noodles, season with salt and toss the wok one last time so all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Plate up the noodles in a bowl and drizzle them with some sesame oil, garnish with crispy shallots and a soft boiled egg if you are craving a little extra protein. There is it! Your lip smackingly delicious and healthy mid-week no fuss meal, this will definitely be a crowd pleaser.

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