Tag Archives: pasta

spaghetti pomodoro

Tre gli spaghetti pomodoro – Three tomato spaghetti

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Spghetti pomodoro is intended to be a quick light dish, and this one is full of tomato goodness. It is basically spaghetti tossed with three types of tomatoes – whole peeled, cherry and sundried with crispy bacon, sweet basil, garlic and topped with corriander.

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti pasta
  • Can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 sundried tomatoes
  • 4-6 slices of back bacon diced or slices
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Handful of basil leaves chopped finely or (1 tablespoon dried sweet basil)
  • Couple of sprigs corriander leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

  • Cook the pasta in boiling water per packet instructions
  • Heat up some oil in a pan and fry the bacon with some finely chopped garlic and half the basil
  • When almost crispy, add the cherry tomatoes and heat till they start to blister
  • Remove from pan and keep warm
  • Add the can of whole tomatoes to the hot pan and roughly break into pieces
  • When the sauce starts to bubble, add the rest of the basil, sundried tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes back to the pan
  • When heated through, take off the heat, add the bacon, season to taste and top off with the corriander.

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By now the pasta is also ready, drain and serve with the tomato sauce. Add some chilli flakes and grated parmesan (optional).

Courgette lasagne

Re-post of the recipe that appeared on Aquilaonline, my other blog.


Zucchini or otherwise courgette lasagne
View Zucchini or otherwise courgette lasagne on Instagram.

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can tomato and onion mix
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 medium courgette
  • 2 cups mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded

Bechamel sauce (makes about double than what is required)

  • 60g butter
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • 75g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • good pinch ground nutmeg

Method
In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40 minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice courgette into thin slices. I used a cheese slicer that had the perfect thickness. Lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Courgette has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a griddle pan, grill the courgette on each side, until cooked, about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 180° Celsius.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil, thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan, salt and nutmeg.

In a medium casserole dish spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the courgette to cover. Then place some of the white sauce mixture, then top with the mozzarella/cheddar cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella/cheddar.

Bake 45 minutes. Let it stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach lasagna al forno

spinach lasagna al forno

Nothing quite beats the winter chill like a good lasagna or lasagne if you feel like saying it in Italian.

Growing up my mom always made “green” lasagna, leaves of spinach lasagna with a rich bolognese and béchamel (white) sauce. It was only years later that we found out lasagna also came in a non-green version. Hmm…I think my parents wanted to make sure we got some extra vegetables in. That said, when there wasn’t a lot of meat in the house, I remember my mom adding more grated carrot and other veggies into the dish to “bulk” up the dish.

Either way it was super yum.

Fast forward to today, a cold and blustery winters day in Johannesburg. The only thing that could satisfy a hungry family – a hot and hearty meal. Lasagna fit the bill perfectly. I also like to make lasagna, mac-and-cheese, bobotie etc. in bulk so I doubled up the recipe below. Except for the mince, for which I bulked up with extra veggies. This yielded about 3 freezer tins of lasagna, each tin enough to feed a family of four.

Ingredients for the bolognese sauce

  • 350g minced beef
  • approx 10 sheets of spinach lasagna
  • 80g tomato paste
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese / or parmigiano if you prefer
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 1lt milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 50grams flour
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • nutmeg (to taste)

Method for bolognese sauce
Melt the butter in a pan and add the finely chopped celery, carrot and onion. Fry for about 5 minutes. Add the mince and cook till browned. Add the cup of wine and cook till evaporated. Add the tomato paste and stock. Cook uncovered on a medium heat for 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Method for béchamel sauce
About 20 minutes into the cooking time of your bolognese sauce, start making your béchamel sauce. There are few steps, but you have to take this part easy to make sure you don’t burn the milk.

Heat up the milk in a pan – the hot milk combines better with the flour and minimises lumps forming.

In another pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and make sure all of it combines with the butter. Now add about 2-3 ladles of hot milk at a time to the flour mixture. Whisk rapidly. Keep on adding ladles of milk and whisking. The sauce should be nice and thick. Take off the heat before it boils and add salt and pepper to taste.

Building your lasagna
Spread a ladle of béchamel on the bottom of the foil tin or a buttered ovenproof dish. Add leaves of spinach lasagna to cover the tin, taking care not to overlap too much. Cover the sheets with a layer of bolognese, followed by béchamel and some grated cheese. Continue to build up your dish alternating the layers of lasagna, filling and cheese. You should end up with a top layer of cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Your dish should be golden brown on top and the pasta cooked through. Serve with a side salad and a glass of wine in front of a fire.

Tuna casserole bake

I had some leftover canned tuna the other day and decided to make a nice warm tuna bake to ward off the wintery chill in the air. A quick Google search later, and I had a basic recipe and some ideas to start with. The recipe is mainly adapted from About.com’s Tuna Casserole Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 packet pasta screws, cooked al dente
  • 1 splash olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 packet soup (I used garden vegetable soup), prepared according to instructions on packet
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables or peas, precooked
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 1 or 2 cans tuna, lightly drained

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  2. Saute the onion and celery in a medium pot until softened
  3. Add the soup, milk, precooked frozen veggies, 1 cup cheese and black pepper to the pot
  4. Simmer, stirring, until all the ingredients are combined and the cheese has melted
  5. When it begins to boil turn off the heat and gently fold in the tuna
  6. Add the precooked pasta and toss to coat
  7. Pour into a casserole dish
  8. Top with remaining cup of grated cheese
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 min
  10. Grill the top for a few minutes until the cheese is lightly browned

The About.com recipe suggests using buttered breadcrumbs or potato chips as a topping instead of the cheese. This sounds yummy, I’ll definitely give it a try sometime! You can also check out the many interesting variations on this dish listed after their recipe.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the dish before we tucked in! Everyone enjoyed it, including my one year old who usually avoids tuna. A winner in my books.

Awesome veggie pasta sauce

I had no idea what to cook for dinner tonight, not a clue… so I took out what I had (mostly fresh veggies) and started cooking. The end result was a most delicious veggie pasta sauce, yummy, fresh, crispy-crunchy, divine, you-don’t-even-miss-the-meat. You can make this with whatever fresh vegetables you have in your fridge, in the quantities of your choice, I’ll list what I added tonight.

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Olive oil for stir-frying
  • 1/2 Green pepper
  • 6 Courgettes
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic (or to taste)
  • 1 can Chopped peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can Tomato & onion mix
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • 2 sprigs Fresh origanum, chopped
  • 1/2 sprig Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • Tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp Tomato sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp Mrs Balls original chutney
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until al dente, or even slightly underdone
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot on a medium heat
  3. Cut the green pepper into strips and begin to stir-fry
  4. Cut the courgette into medium-sized rounds
  5. Add the courgette to the pot when the green pepper starts to soften, stir-fry. You may add a splash of water if the veg starts to burn. This will steam the vegetables a bit.
  6. Grate the carrots on a large grate
  7. Add the carrots to the pot when the courgette looks about done.
  8. Add some garlic to taste and stir-fry the veg until it starts to soften / is al dente
  9. Add the broccoli and cauliflower to the pot
  10. Add the tinned tomatoes and tomato & onion mix along with a little water
  11. Add some dried mixed herbs and the fresh chopped herbs
  12. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce and chutney
  13. Season to taste with some salt and pepper
  14. Stir and leave to simmer for a few minutes before turning off the stove
  15. Serve with pasta of your choice – I used wholewheat organic Penne Rigate – some grated cheese, and if you like it spicy add some chilli paste and/or Tabasco sauce

Bon Appetite!

Pasta surprise

Nico was out working late the other night, so I decided to experiment with some ingredients that were about to get up and walk out of the fridge by themselves. As appetizing as that sounds, I can’t say that my dinner was delicious. Yes, it provided nourishment and didn’t taste too bad… but delicious it was not. So I’m not going to give you the recipe, believe me if you had to taste it you’d thank me for that.

Here’s a peak at what it looked like:

Pasta surprise

Mmmmm… looks yummy.

Whilst this was a vegetarian dish I did add some smoked paprika to give a meaty flavour. For some reason though this didn’t really work and the 1/2 teaspoon paprika seemed to have dissipated by the time the sauce had finished cooking. It had disappeared even further by lunchtime the following day. I have no idea why…

My lessons learnt are to plan the meal rather than just plonking ingredients into the pot randomly, canned garden peas may seem like a good idea at the time, and to remember a bit of lemon juice next time.