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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Pepper Mushroom Stroganoff with Cous Cous

Show off at dinner with your Stroganoff…

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The key to a successful marriage along with love, respect and trust is good food. After all a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – gentleman this holds true for your women too!

I love surprising my husband with new and innovative culinary experiments, especially midweek because there is nothing like coming home to a warm, hearty meal.

Stroganoff originated in Russia around the mid 19th century (there’s a bit of food trivia for you). Today it is a popular dish world over and has many variations.  My version is vegetarian given the meaty flavour of mushrooms, this stroganoff will satisfy the carnivores too. Quick and easy to make yet so full of flavour, one would think you spent hours cooking it.

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Ingredients:   8     Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 200 gms of sliced mushroom
  • Two portobello mushrooms 
  • One medium brown onion sliced
  • Two pods of garlic finely chopped
  • One tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • One tablespoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Five tablespoon light sour cream
  • Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

In a pan add olive oil followed by sliced onion. Once the onion is soft and translucent add garlic and cook the onion mix on medium heat for four to five minutes.

Now add the sliced mushrooms and chopped portobello mushrooms. The portobello mushrooms give this dish its rich flavour. Flavour the dish with all the spices, add pepper, chilli, paprika. Cover the pan and let the mushrooms cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

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Once the mushrooms are slightly soft add the sour cream and mix up all the ingredients. Let the stroganoff cook for another five minutes on medium heat.

Serve hot with steamed rice or pasta. I served this lip smackingly delicious dish with couscous and a side of steamed veggies.

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