Leek, potato and cabbage soup

Another classic, with a twist…

  
I love ‘fridge clean-out’ kind of soups. The other day I found a globe of Savoy cabbage and leek in my fridge. Rustling through the pantry I found a couple of potatoes. There was only one way these ingredients were headed, into a large crockpot and coming out as a warm bowl of comforting soup.

Cabbage gives this classic potato and leek soup a real textural twist. My philosophy behind cooking is about always trying new things. Whether that is flavours, ingredients or cooking techniques they all make us one step closer to becoming culinary geniuses.

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One leek, finely chopped  
  • One Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
  • Two medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Two to three pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One medium sized bay leaf
  • One litre of vegetable stock 
  • One teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Two tablespoons olive oil

In a heavy bottom pot, melt butter and heat olive oil together. Add garlic, once aromatic add leek. I usually use the white part of the leek only, but this time I used the green bits too. Lower the heat and cook until leeks are slightly soft.

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Now add the cabbage and mix the ingredients well. Add potatoes, stock, season with salt and pepper. Finally add a bay leaf and cover the pot.

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Cook on a medium heat until potatoes are soft. Your lip smackingly delicious soup is ready to serve. Personally I like my soups with texture, but you can blend yours if you wish. 

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Garnish with some more crushed black pepper, serve alongside some warm crusty bread. Another winter warmer to comfort you on a cold night.

  

Potato and Bean Tacos

It does not get simpler than this

When we get really hungry but are really tired to cook, I bring out my Mexican toolkit. Mexican food is so simple to put together. No hassles with serving or plating up, especially when serving tacos. This DIY meal makes it fun for the whole family to get involved. 

Recently I made some rather indulgent tacos with crispy smoked paprika potatoes and refried beans. Yes, we are a potato loving family that isn’t afraid to eat all the potatoes and look like potatoes.  Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to take step by step photos because we were really hungry and there was a war to get stuck into crispy potatoes.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of soft tortillas 
  • Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
  • 400 gms of refried beans 
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • One onion, chopped
  • 400 gms of corn, steamed
  • One bunch of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One packet of taco seasoning
  • Two teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season 
  • Sour cream for topping 
  • 200 gms grated Parmesan 
  • Lemon wedges for garnish 

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add dried mint and smoked paprika. Once aromatic add the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are soft and crispy. Garnish with fresh coriander and parmesan.

I used canned refried beans for this dish.  You can also used cooked kidney beans as an alternative, simply mash them. Empty the beans in a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Microwave for three to four minutes. Keep aside.

Mix the chopped onion, tomato and coriander leaves. Add one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Two tablespoons of lemon juice. Your salsa is ready.

In another bowl mix corn, remaining coriander, lemon juice and taco seasoning. Your corn salsa is ready too.

Finally microwave your tacos to heat them through. To assemble the tacos, put a layer of beans, followed by potatoes. Add tomato and onion and corn salsa. A dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of lemon. A midweek meal does not get simpler than this.

 

Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

The Punjabi happy meal…

  

Growing up as a Punjabi kid life was very simple. There were three commandments to live by. First, beta nashta  kha lo ( eat your breakfast kiddo). Second, beta khaana kha lo (eat your lunch/dinner kiddo). Third, beta kuch aur kha lo ( eat something else kiddo). Life was all about breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything else sort of fit around it. 

Besides the three commandments one thing common in every Punjabi kids life is the Punjabi Happy Meal. No it’s not McDonalds because no self-respecting Punjabi mother would dare to feed their child that. It’s Rajma Chawal! A red kidney bean stew served on a bed of steamed basmati rice. Nothing says happy meal and happiness like this dish in a Punjabi household.

There is such depth and flavour in this curry.  It is like a mother has squeezed all the love out of her heart and put it straight into Rajma. 

  

Ingredients: 14 Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400gms of Rajma (kidney beans)
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • Four medium tomatoes, grated
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of cumin seeds 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of coriander powder
  • One teaspoon of chilli
  • Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Quarter teaspoon of asafoetida (hing)
  • Three tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (for garnish)

Soak the kidney beans overnight or at least for five to six hours. This helps to break the protein, soften the beans and cook them quicker.

In a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom saucepan add the beans. Cover them with water, add cinnamon and bayleaf. Cook until the beans are soft and can be mashed between two fingers.

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For the tadka (tempering), heat ghee in a saucepan. Add asafoetida (hing), cumin seeds, once aromatic add onions and cook until onions are lightly browned.

Now add grated tomatoes, key for this stew is use the freshest tomatoes. Add all the dried spices. Cook on a medium heat for 10 to fifteen minutes.

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Add the beans and the broth. Season with salt. Cover the saucepan and let the stew cook on a low heat for about an hour.


Your lipsmackingly delicious kidney bean stew or Rajma are ready. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve over steamed basmati rice and enjoy this happy meal with your beautiful family.

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Hyderabadi Baigan 

When memories create meals, they are one of a kind…

  

Many things in life are easy to forget but one seldom forgets a delicious dish. One such dish I found myself recently reminiscing about and relentlessly craving was Hyberabadi Baigan, also known as Bhagare Baigan. An eggplant curry inspired by flavours from Hyderabad, a former princely state in the southern belt of India.

Hyderabadi cuisine has evolved over centuries through local and foreign influences. The key ingredients of Hyderabadi cuisine are coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds. While the cuisine is more meat based, you can also find some real vegetarian gems in the mix.

Here’s my take on this Hyderabadi classic. To be enjoyed with parathas or rice,  every mouthful is lip smackingly delicious.

  

Ingredients: 15  Cooking time:  45 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 1.5 dozen of baby eggplants, quartered and soaking in water 
  • One medium-sized onion, sliced
  • Two medium tomatoes, quartered 
  • 200 gms of peanuts, roasted
  • 400 ml of coconut milk 
  • Six to eight curry leaves
  • One lemon sized tamarind ball or juice of one lemon
  • One bay large bay leaf
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Half teaspoon chilli powder 
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Three tablespoons of mustard oil
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying the eggplants.
  • Salt to season 
  • One teaspoon sugar

For tempering (optional)

  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Six to eight curry leaves

Begin by pan frying the quartered eggplants until they slightly change colour and are soft. Keep aside.

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To make the sauce, heat oil in a kadahi or a heavy based pot. If you can’t find mustard oil you can use vegetable oil, ghee or olive oil.

Once the oil is aromatic add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves. When the spices splutter and are aromatic add sliced onions. Cook until onions are slightly caramelised.

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Now add roasted peanuts and mix well. Cook onion and peanuts for about five to seven minutes. Then add the tomatoes and dried spices. Mix well. 

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While the tomatoes soften, soak the tamarind ball in quarter cup hot water. Once soft squeeze the pulp and strain the juice. If you don’t have tamarind you can also use juice of one lemon. Add the tamarind  juice, one teaspoon of sugar and two cups of water to the tomato mix. 

Give the ingredients a good stir. Once it comes to a boil turn the gas off and let the gravy cool. Then blend until smooth. Finally add coconut milk to the gravy, season with salt and cover the pot and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on a low heat.

  
Now the gravy is ready for the eggplants. Drop eggplants gently into the gravy. Let the gravy simmer again for 10 to 15 minutes so the eggplants soak in all the flavour.

 

Last step is to add the tadka or temper the gravy with aromatic flavours of mustard seeds and curry leaves. Heat ghee in a skillet. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once they splutter and are aromatic add to the curry and mix well to infuse the flavours.

Your lip smackingly delicious Hyderabadi Baigan are ready to be served. 

  

Sweet potato and lentil soup 

The soup season is here…

  

Today I don’t really have a story and nor did I attempt any artistic photos last night while making this pot of healthy goodness. What I do have is a cracker of a soup recipe!

Imagine your kitchen coming to life with the alluring aromas of cinnamon, garam masala and bayleaves. This soup packs a punch in the flavour department and will most certainly kick the butt of any cold or related ailments the onset of winter may bring with it.

  

Even my husband who dislikes curry based soups (yeah go figure, loves curry but not curry flavoured soups) went back for seconds. SammyK totally demolished his soup bowl and let out a ferocious victory growl as all that pepper tickled his throat. Yes sir! We are a family that loves our herbs and spices.

So without further ado here’s the recipe for this beauty.

Ingredients: 15   Cooking time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

  • One sweet potato, peeled and cubed 
  • 250 gms of split green lentils
  • 400ml of light coconut milk
  • One small lemon
  • One onion, finely chopped
  • A thumbsized piece of ginger, grated
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Two bayleaves
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon pepper
  • Half teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Salt to season 
  • Four tablespoons of olive oil
  • Four tablespoons of yogurt (optional)
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat oil in a crockpot. Add cinnamon stick. Once aromatic add onions and grated ginger. Cook until onion is translucent. Now add sweet potatoes and mix well.

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Now add the lentils, garam masala, pepper, chilli flakes (leave some for garnish), bay leaves. Mix well till all the ingredients are coated with the spices. Then about a litre of water or vegetable stock. Cover the saucepan and let the soup simmer for about 15 minutes. 

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Now add juice of half a lemon, mix well. Finally add coconut milk. Give the pot a real good stir and let the soup simmer for another 15 – 20 minutes on low heat. To finish off the soup mash the lentils and sweet potatoes. This way it has some texture but is mostly rich and creamy. Scoop some soup out for the little ones prior to seasoning with salt.

For the garnish add four tablespoons of yogurt in a bowl. Mix about a teaspoon of lemon juice. For the next garnish hear two tablespoons of olive oil. Add quarter teaspoon of chilli flakes. Once aromatic turn off the heat. 

Serve this lip smackingly delicious soup with a dollop of lemon yogurt, a drizzle of chilli oil and sprinklings of fresh parsley.

  

Big Breakfast

Because nothing says weekend like a big breakfast…

Now with Samuel Kabir eating solids our mealtimes have become so much more fun. It’s so entertaining watching him try new things, roll his eyes or smile with glee each time he tries a new food. One thing is for sure the boy loves his food. Who wouldn’t I suppose with foodie parents like us two.

My favourite part of the week has to be cooking and relishing weekend brunches with my family. Recently I decided to make my own spiced breakfast beans and crispy breakfast potatoes. Needless to say there were cheesy scrambled eggs and beautiful crusty grilled sourdough. 

 

While I’m a complete believer in convenience and using canned baked beans would’ve been just fine. Since it’s the question of nutrition for little SammyK I make no compromise. Besides when homemade beans are so easy to make and ready in 15 minutes, why wouldn’t you make them at home.

Ingredients:  18 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the beans

  • One can of reduced salt cannellini beans
  • One small onion, chopped
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon of rosemary leaves
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil

For the potatoes 

  • Three to four medium-sized potatoes, cubed
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs 
  • Salt to season 

For the eggs

  • Eight eggs
  • Quarter cup of milk
  • Half a cup of grated tasty cheddar
  • Salt to season
  • One teaspoon of olive oil

Begin by rinsing the beans thoroughly to wash off the salts and rind. On the other hand parboil the potatoes until slightly tender.

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Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and onion, cook until aromatic. Now add tomatoes, herbs and spices and let the tomatoes stew on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

  
Once the tomatoes are soft add the beans and half a cup of water. Mix well and cover the pan, let the beans simmer for 10 minutes.

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In the meantime, heat oil in another pan. Add mixed Italian herbs, once aromatic, add the potatoes. Toss well and cook until potatoes are cooked through and crispy.

  

To make the eggs. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl. Heat oil in a pan, add the eggs and turn the heat low. Keep folding the eggs in until scrambled and fluffy. Add grated cheddar and mix through. Garnish with cracked pepper. 

Your lip smackingly delicious big breakfast is ready to serve. If you are sharing this with your little one, take out relevant portions for him/her and then add salt for seasoning to the remaining. All the meat lovers feel free to add chorizo in beans or bacon on the side. Or just take my word that you won’t miss the meat if you eat a well cooked vegetarian meal once in a while.

  

So what are you waiting for. Pile it all up on a big plate and enjoy with a nice cup of coffee. Meanwhile in our house SammyK demolished his food and then went on to feed his furbling.

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Coriander Zucchini and Corn Fritters

Stop fretting, just eat a fritter…

While we were in India among other things one of the big things to happen was, Samuel Kabir eating solids. Yes my little boy is growing up way too quickly but I couldn’t be more excited. I was so eager for him to start solids, so I could cook some real tasty treats for him.

I adopted the ‘baby led weaning’ approach for introducing SammyK to solids. I’m not going to bore you with the details of baby led weaning. In essence there are no purees, no ice-cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos. It’s just you and your child, eating food that you enjoy with you and your family.

So today I made my little prince zucchini and corn fritters for breakfast. There was a salt free baby version and a salted adult version with lemon chaat masala yogurt aioli. 

  

 
Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves : 2

  • One zucchini, grated
  • One small can of creamed corn
  • Half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • One egg
  • One heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • One heaped tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • One teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • Half a teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Salt to season
  • Olive oil to pan fry

Begin by squeezing out all the water from the zucchini and transfer it to another bowl. In the same bowl add all the other ingredients and mix well using your hands.

  
Heat olive oil in a non stick pan. Now pour one tablespoon per fritter in the pan. Let them cook on a medium heat. Flip over gently to the other side once the edges are browned.

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Cook on both sides until golden brown. The key to a good fritter is crispy on the outside and yet moist (sorry, for lack of a better word) on the inside.  

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To make the aioli to go with the adult version – In two tablespoons of Greek yogurt add quarter teaspoon on chaat masala, one teaspoon lemon juice and one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Voila done! 

Your lip smackingly delicious fritters are ready to be served. 

 

Paupers Soup…

Winter is coming, bring out the crockpot…

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Hello gorgeous readers, I’m back! After an eight week holiday in India, Singapore and Indonesia, I was well and truly ready for home. 

After the sweltering heat in Asia, we are back to the cold in Australia. Though I love winter and everything about it. Especially soups and the warmth they bring on a cold winter evening.

Here’s a simple silverbeet and butterbean soup known as Paupers Soup. Why paupers? Mainly because it used all the basic ingredients and seasonal vegetables you would find in an Italian kitchen. Simple, rustic Italian, the kind which kicks pretentious, petite portioned food in the nuts.  Full of deep earthy flavours and utterly nutritious. It will definitely help you and your family keep the cold and flu at bay.

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Ingredients:  14  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

  • One bunch of silverbeet, chopped
  • Two medium sized potatoes, cubed
  • Two carrots, peeled and sliced into discs
  • One medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • Three pods of garlic finely chopped
  • One red chilli, chopped
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley (leaves and stems), finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 400 gms of butterbeans ( I used the canned ones)
  • One bay leaf
  • One teaspoon of crushed black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • One litre vegetable stock
  • Four tablespoons of olive oil

Heat olive oil in a crockpot. Add garlic, cook until aromatic. Now add onions and red chilli, cook until onions are translucent.

Add the veggies and parsley. Mix well. Now add the stock and bayleaf, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 15 – 20 minutes on low heat.

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Once the veggies are slightly tender add the beans, followed by lemon juice. Add more stock or water if required. Cover the pot again and let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes on low heat.

While the soup is simmering you can prepare equal number of poached eggs per serve to garnish the soup with. Poached egg is a great accompaniment with this dish.

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Your lip smackingly delicious winter warmer is ready to serve. Serve this with fresh sourdough bread. I can most certainly guarantee one bite will teleport you to Italy.

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Kashmiri Paneer

And just like that sometimes magic happens…

 

Being back in Bombay is great, catching up with friends, eating Maa’s home cooked food and basically just being a lady of leisure.

One evening when my foodie best friend decided to come over, it was going to be an evening of endless cups of tea. Of course as we are both devout foodies it was not going to stop there. Moreover with paneer in the fridge beckoning to be cooked, we were in for some kind of treat.

On raiding my mum’s pantry, I found an assortment of beautiful fresh spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and the most fragrant, aromatic dried kashmiri chillies. Hence the name Kashmiri Paneer.

Ingredients: 15    Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 6

  • 500 gms of Paneer, cubed
  • 100 ml of milk
  • Two medium tomatoes, sliced
  • Two medium onions, sliced
  • 125 gms of cashew nuts, roasted
  • Four cardamom pods, crushed
  • Four to five cloves
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon coriander seeds
  • One teaspoon chilli powder
  • Two to three dry Kashmiri chillies
  • Quarter teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • Three tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
  • Salt to season 

In a heavy based saucepan heat two tablespoons of ghee or olive oil. Add asafoetida, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Once aromatic add onions and cook on a medium heat until translucent.

Add tomatoes and chilli powder. Cook until tomatoes are soft. Now add roasted cashews (keep a handful aside for garnish), cardamom pods, milk and one cup of water. 

Simmer the gravy on a low heat for four to five minutes. Turn the heat off and blend the gravy until smooth. Add water if needed to bring the gravy to desired consistency. Season with salt to taste. Mix well.

In another pan add some olive oil and pan sear the paneer until golden brown. Drop the paneer chunks into the velvety smooth gravy. Note, frying the paneer is optional. The dish will taste just as good if you choose not to fry the paneer.

For the garnish, heat one tablespoon of ghee in a pan. Roughly chop remaining cashews and add to the pan. Break Kashmiri chillies into halves and add to the pan. Once aromatic pour the cashew chilli mix on to the gravy.

Your lip smackingly delicious Kashmiri paneer is ready to be devoured. It tastes best when served with flaky namkeen parathas, you can find the recipe here.

  

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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