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!

Superfood Pesto

Why do regular pesto when you can do super pesto…


With my little boy getting more and more interested in food, I am constantly looking for new ways to incorporate healthy ingredients into his meals. In my world healthy does not need to be boring. Healthy meals can be equally exciting if done well, a little inspiration is all you need.

Take this superfood pesto for instance. I had lotsa greens and herbs in the fridge that needed to be used. So I decided to take the concept of pesto and turn it up a gazillion notches by combining all the herbs and veggies together. The result was absolutely sensational.  I used some rocket, mint, Vietnamese mint, dill, continental parsley, peas and spinach. Combined all that with some chilli flakes, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts. You can replace the spinach with silverbeet or kale too. 


My little boy absolutely demolished his superfood pesto pasta, I added some cheeky bits of steamed Beetroot for that extra dose of iron. Checkout the recipe below, a quick and easy meal for the whole family.

 

Ingredients: 11 Preparation time: 10 minutes

  • Half a bunch of fresh mint
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley
  • Quarter bunch of Vietnamese mint
  • Quarter bunch of dill
  • One cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
  • One cup of spinach
  • Two pods of garlic
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice 
  • Two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 125ml of extra virgin olive oil


Steam the peas and spinach until soft. Wash all the herbs, pat dry and add to the blender along with the other ingredients. Blitz until smooth. Your pesto is now ready. 


These proportions make enough for you to freeze a good chunk and use on days when putting a meal together for your family is the last thing on your mind.


I served this superfood pesto with rigatoni pasta, which my nine month old could easily grasp and feed himself. So in my books this is – Winner winner super dinner!

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. 


 

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 with Lemon Parsley Prawns and Pangratato

The taste of spaghetti the calories of zucchini…

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Have you ever thought how amazing it would be to be able to eat spaghetti without worrying about the calories? In today’s increasingly health conscious world the need for healthy food options is insatiable. Slowly but surely everyone is joining the ‘healthy eating’ bandwagon and LSD is no exception.

We all know eating carbs in moderation is ok, but why eat in moderation when you can choose healthier alternatives and eat in abundance. In ode to this today’s recipe is a twist on the Italian classic spaghetti with prawns.

For this recipe you will need to invest in a julienne peeler, they are readily available in super markets. I recently bought myself this gadget and my world has never been the same again. The little pocket rocket converts your everyday vegetables to pasta alternatives and with a little LSD inspiration you can makes these dishes taste just like or even better than real pasta (no offence to the Italian Nonnas).

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Ingredients:  12    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Two to three green zucchinis
  • One onion finely sliced
  • Three to four pods of garlic finely chopped
  • Two to three red chillies finely chopped
  • Two tablespoons of Italian parsley finely chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • One dozen prawns shelled and deveined
  • Stale baguette to make pangrattato
  • 100 gms of crumbled feta
  • One teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Lets start by making zucchetti which is nothing but peeled zucchini. Peel the zucchini lengthwise with your julienne peeler and keep aside.

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Next step is making the pangrattato – break up the stale baguette (by stale I mean old and crusty not fungus laden) into a food processor, with a pinch of dried oregano leaves and blitz it coarsely. In a pan add a teaspoon of olive oil followed by the coarsely pulsed bread crumbs. Keep tossing the pan until the crumbs aren’t golden brown, continuously tossing the pan will prevent the crumbs from burning. Pangrattato is ready place it aside.

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Time to make the zuchetti – Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, once the oil the hot add the sliced onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Now add garlic and red chilly, stir all the ingredients until you don’t start smelling that beautiful garlicky aroma.

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Add the peeled zucchini to the aromatic onion and garlic mix, then with a set of tongs toss the zuchetti to evenly coat it with all the flavours. Cook the zucchini for seven to eight minutes, remember you want it to be crunchy and not overcooked.

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While the zuchetti is cooking lets get the prawns ready. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the dried oregano leaves. Now add the prawns and toss them to evenly coat them with the oregano, then add the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Cook the prawns for about five minutes or until fully cooked.

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Now the zucchetti is cooked, add the crumbled feta and give it all a good mix. Time to assemble the dish. Divide the zucchetti among the serving plates, top it with the prawns and sprinkle the pangrattato on top. Tada! your lip smackingly delicious zuchetti with prawns is ready to be devoured and remember you can eat all that and more.

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Quattro Fungi and Toasted Pine Nuts Risotto

Your little dose of aphrodisiac…

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Food in my view is an all-encompassing experience, engaging all your senses, giving you a sense of euphoria! Add Friday to this mix and it is reason enough to celebrate.
 
My ideal Friday is coming home to my wonderful kitchen and cooking an easy but equally delicious and indulgent meal for Ji and I. What better a way to unwind! Cooking  on a Friday night may feel like climbing the Everest for some but believe me once you start enjoying the cooking experience as much as the eating experience, your life will never be the same again.
 
On my way home from work last Friday I was tossing up what to cook for dinner. I knew I had two luscious globes of broccoli in the fridge, but my mind and belly felt like something a little more indulgent. The chill in the Melbourne air  also called for some rich, decadent, flavour packed comfort food. 
 
Contrary to my popular choice of comfort food this meal is all about celebrating the humble yet gastronomically glamorous Italian food! I chose to make a mushroom risotto, a perfect dish to spice up your night in. Mushrooms belong to the family of natural aphrodisiacs, add a glass of wine and company of your better half to the mix – that’s what nirvana feels like!
 
Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 1.5 cups of brown arborio rice or medium grain rice
  • 500ml of white wine (I used a chardonnay)
  • One cup each of assorted mushrooms (I used dried shiitake and fresh oyster, Swiss brown & button mushrooms)
  • One medium-sized onion chopped
  • Six to eight pods of garlic finely chopped ( there is no such thing as too much garlic)
  • One cube of vegetable or chicken stock (I used Massel vegetable stock cube)
  • Five tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Tablespoon of butter (optional)
For the garnish
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • Finely chopped continental parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Start by preparing the mushrooms. Slice the swiss  brown and button mushrooms (prior to slicing them remove the stem). Add one cup of hot water to the dried shiitake mushrooms and soak them for about 10 to 15 minutes until soft. Strain the shiitake mushrooms, don’t throw the water away as we will use it for stock (this stock is key in bringing out the flavour). If you have dried porcini mushrooms its even better, prepare them in the same way as the shiitake mushrooms.

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In a saucepan add olive oil followed by onion and garlic. Cook the onions for 10 – 12 minutes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned. Now add the vegetable or chicken stock cube, this should be easily available at your local supermarket. Stir the onion mix until the stock cube is nicely incorporated.

Add 1.5 cups of uncooked rice, I used medium grain brown rice.  Coat the rice with the onion garlic mix and cook for five to seven minutes on a medium heat. Brown rice in my view is a great option because of the great nutty flavour and crunch. Plus face it brown rice will be slightly kinder to your waistline than white rice.

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Time to get naughty!! Add 500ml of white wine to the rice, I used a Bethany Chardonnay.  Keep stirring until the wine reduces. Brown rice requires a lot of liquid to cook, so add stock of the shiitake mushroom and three cups of water (approximately 750ml of water). Keep stirring. 

The key to a creamy risotto is either lots of cream and butter a.k.a calories or a woman/man with a good arm that can keep stirring. When the water has reduced add the remaining water, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook the rice for 30 – 40 minutes on medium heat.

Check the rice to see if it’s cooked, remember brown rice tends to be crunchy and  holds it form better than white rice.  So don’t fret if the rice is still visibly separate, nobody likes a gluggy sloppy risotto! 

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Add the mushrooms, cover the lid and cook the risotto for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt as desired. To make the risotto glisten you can add a spoon of butter and give it a good stir, this is optional!

Garnish this bad boy with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and grated parmesan. Serve hot and let your Friday night in sizzle with this lip smackingly delicious beauty!!!

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