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.

 

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.

    

Rainbow Chard and Pea Fettucini 

Every now and then, try something new…

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I strongly believe the more you cook, the better you become at cooking. The more you try new ingredients the better you become at matching flavours and textures and creating true culinary masterpieces.

My husband constantly loves to challenge me in the kitchen. Somedays when he goes grocery shopping he will come back with a new herb or a new spice or a new vegetable. Of course my challenge then is to turn that new ingredient into a gastronomical delight for him. Lucky him!
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The other day after a trip to the farmers market, Ji came back home with a truck load of goodies. One of them was a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard. My kitchen came to life with those beautiful colours, bright pink, orange, yellow and green. It was almost too beautiful to cook with, alas a woman has got to eat.

I decided to add a bit of colour to one of our favourite weeknight meals and made a lip smackingly delicious pasta with rainbow chard and peas. If you would like a bit of colour in your life too, read the recipe below.

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Ingredients: 15  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 500 gms of fettuccine or pasta of your choice
  • One bunch of rainbow chard, stems sliced and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 250 gms of peas (I used frozen)
  • 125 gms of marinated red bell peppers, chopped ( these are available in the deli section of the supermarket)
  • One brown onion, finely sliced
  • Five to six pods of garlic, finely sliced
  • One red chilli, finely chopped
  • 125 gms of parsley (stems and leaves), finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon 
  • One teaspoon dried oregano
  • One teaspoon dried basil
  • Six to eight tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season 
  • Cracked pepper to garnish
  • Parmesan cheese to garnish 

Cook pasta as per packet instructions and keep aside.

In a pan heat three tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add the onions, half the parsley and chilli, cook on a medium heat for three to four minutes. 

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Now add the sliced stems of the rainbow chard and give the ingredients a good stir. Once the stems are a little tender add the leaves, peas, marinated peppers and lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients well.

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Finally add the pasta, dried herbs, remaining parsley and olive oil. Season with salt and  toss the pasta well, ensure the pasta is evenly coated with the beautiful lemon olive oil sauce.

Your fettuccine is ready to be served. Place a generous portion of the pasta on a plate, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper. Serve with a chilled glass of Riesling on a warm summers evening and watch the rainbow brighten your night.

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Zucchini blossom Potato Gnocchi

Summer nights with summer delights…

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The beauty of summer is not just the clear blue, sun-kissed skies, but also the availability of fresh produce. I am so excited to see my local grocer stocked up with beautiful fruits and vegetables, one of my favourite summer vegetable is zucchini and its beautiful blossoms. Usually I stuff zucchini flowers with goats cheese (you can find the recipe here), but this time I round I decide to do something different with them – cook them in a pasta.

While my most favourite pasta is spaghetti, for this dish I decided to use potato gnocchi.  One day I will endeavour to make my own gnocchi, but during the week where the need for quick meals is paramount packaged gnocchi will do just fine. The best part about using gnocchi is that it takes only 3 – 4 minutes to cook and as a working woman you will know time is of the essence during mid-week cooking.

Ingredients:   11      Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • One packet of potato gnocchi
  • Eight to ten baby zucchini
  • Eight to ten zucchini flowers
  • One teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes
  • Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One dozen cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled goats cheese
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

Begin by separating the zucchini flowers from the zucchini stem and remove the pistil in the middle of the flower by carefully parting the petals and keep aside.

Heat three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Now add the sliced onion, chopped garlic and mint, cook until the onion mix is caramelised.

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Add sliced zucchini, along with the chilli flakes and cook until the zucchini is tender. While the zucchini is cooking bring water to a boil and add the gnocchi, cook it as per packet instructions.

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Once the gnocchi is cooked add it to the zucchini mix and give all the ingredients a good toss, coating the gnocchi with all those delicious flavours.

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Now add the sliced tomatoes and toss the ingredients, cook until the tomatoes are soft. Season with salt as per taste, but remember not to over salt as we will be adding the goats cheese later.

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Lastly add the zucchini blossoms and crumbled goats cheese, give the gnocchi a good stir and serve hot!

There you have it! A lip smackingly delicious mid-week meal all in 15 minutes.

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