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.

 

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!

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. 


 

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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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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Spagehetti con Pomodoro e Basilico

When the moon hits the sky like a big bowl of spaghetti its amore…

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“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart.”This quote from Shantaram (one of my favourite books) sums up my two food loves. Indian and Italian. I love the simple yet delicious flavours of Italian food and contrary to popular belief, a lot of Italian food is vegetarian.

Italian food is my go to cuisine when I am looking to make quick fix meals and this recipe is my go to recipe when I am lacking motivation and inspiration to cook. It never disappoints!

Hopefully you enjoy this dish as much as my family and I do.

 

Ingredients: 9   Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2
 
  • 200 – 250 gms of uncooked spaghetti
  • One can of crushed tomato or five to six fresh crushed tomatoes.
  • Onesliced brown or red onion
  • 1.5 teaspoon of chilliflakes
  • One teaspoon of sugar
  • Four pods of chopped garlic
  • Six to seven large basil leaves
  • Four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan and fresh basil leaves cheese for garnish

In a saucepan add three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onion and chopped garlic. and cook until translucent. Once the onion mix is slightly caramelised, add the basil leaves followed by the crushed tomato, chilli flakes, sugar and let the sauce cook on medium flame.

Once the oil surfaces to the top, the sauce is cooked. Season it as required with salt and blend the sauce to make it smooth and creamy.

In another saucepan boil water and add the spaghetti without breaking it. Cook the spaghetti al dente and mix it in with the sauce.Your dinner is now ready! Plate up and garnish with drizzle of one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.