Garlic and Chilli Pasta: Speedy Quick!

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Everyone’s always got a plastic container in the fridge at some time with languishing left over spaghetti.  You know, the night before when your eyes were bigger than your tummy, all that.

Well, here’s a perfect delicious speedy quick left overs lunch (or dinner) to make with that cold pasta with virtually nothing- well, some salt and chilli flakes and garlic do the trick. A few parsley stalks would be a bonus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cereal bowl left over cooked spaghetti
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 level teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/3 bunch flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a  large shallow fry pan.
  2. When oil is hot, add garlic and chilli flakes.
  3. Stir until flakes darken and garlic turns golden.
  4. Add spaghetti and toss well so that the flavoured oil coats all the strands well.
  5. Throw in the parsley and toss for long enough for the parsley to soften.
  6. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Add the extra tablespoon of oil after you’ve removed the pasta from the stove and toss to coat well.

Optional:

In another small fry pan with no oil, brown the breadcrumbs while stirring slowly until it changes colour to a golden brown.

Add the breadcrumbs at the very end and mix well before serving . Serves 1 for a meal or two for a snack.

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Helpful hint:

If you are using more pasta, increase the other ingredients like oil, chilli, garlic, breadcrumbs, etc in half measures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

When we lived in LA, you two girls came with us  to the T’s for dinner one night.  You were in for a treat. That Venice Beach location, and a wonderful infusion of Aussie family atmosphere was so pleasant . On top of that, DT’s prowess as an Italian chef was about to be revealed.

As the sun melted into the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashed with the tide coming in, we chatted at the kitchen island, about all things Australian. DT was cooking you girls something special she said she’d always made for her boys. As is true of most Italian cuisine, freshness and simplicity were key to a memorable dish of pasta.

The W family were here last week-end, and brought with them a large container of tomatoes, capsicums and chills from their garden. At first I used them sparingly, these  fresh garden picked delights. But as the days wore on, I knew I would only be wasting them if they perished. THAT would never do! It was time to make DT’s pasta dish!

This recipe is so simple, one doesn’t need a recipe, but a few things bear following to bring out a perfect flavour.  I know it is a deceptively simple recipe, Izzy. But the warmth of the pasta releases a wonderful aroma in the uncooked tomato and basil, and the mozzarella adds a slight creaminess which counters the  tomato acidity perfectly. Please tell Grouse honcho MW that he can substitute the cheese with soft tofu.

Pasta with Tomato and Mozzarella 

  • Very ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil,washed and picked off the stems
  • some good medium firm mozzarella 
  • pasta of choice (penne or spagatinni is favoured here)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
  2. When the water is boiling vigorously, add the pasta and boil carefully till perfectly al dente (pasta should be chewy not crunchy, neither should it be allowed to turn soft and squidgy). 
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cut tomatoes into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to bring out exceptional flavour. 
  4. When the pasta is perfectly boiled, drain, and quickly toss it in the bowl of tomatoes.
  5. The warmth of the pasta will soften the tomatoes slightly, adding to its juiciness, and creating a bit of a sauce. 
  6. Now add the chopped up pieces of mozzarella. It will melt slightly, adding to the ‘sauce’.
  7. Serve immediately, while still warm, but not before you tear up the  basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta.

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Squid Ink Pasta

As our time together in the Northern Hemisphere draws to a close,  I am anxiously reviewing in my mind what of your favourites I still haven’t cooked.

It has been a strange December, with dad traveling so much, and you taking care of me so patiently while I’ve been in this air cast boot from my fall. Endless cups of tea, a cheery smile and such encouragement from my two girls. Lucky me.  But not much cooking, as I’ve just been so much slower getting around.

I did whip up very quickly a favourite on Thursday night. It was between Claudia’s Nativity concert and her art class end of year Christmas drinks.  We were all so tired and hungry after long days, and only had about 50 minutes at home before dashing out again.

Of course I had the dried squid ink pasta in the pantry, so the rest was easy.  We all love this dish. Funny really, seeing that Claudia has a deep aversion to any seafood that is not a straightforward FISH. But squid ink pasta? You both have adored it from the very beginning, even as small children. You eat it topped with left over bolognese sauce, or with pesto tossed through it. I love it tossed with good oil, and sprinkled with sautéed garlic and chill flakes. Simple and SO good!

In all the cities we’ve lived, our measure of a good Italian deli has been if it stocks a decent variety of dried squid ink pasta. In Virginia, it took me a while to scout it out, but within a year of living there, I could even buy it fresh by the pound, just on Main street. That was a thrill!

While many recipes for squid ink pasta include seafood, ours is with salad ingredients and crispy bacon. The briny taste of the pasta is a nice balance with the bacon. I always think this dish could do with some lovely fresh prawns thrown in, but you and I know your sister would have a fit. Try it!

Squid Ink  Pasta with Arugula and Bacon

  1. 250 grams squid ink pasta
  2. 1 punnet cherry tomaoes, chopped
  3. half a large onion, sliced and sauted
  4. 1 packet fresh arulgula (rocket)
  5. 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  6. 6 rashers bacon, fried crisp
  7. good olive oil
  8. salt to taste

Method:

  • In a serving bowl, place the chopped tomato, arugula and sauteed onion
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil, and cook the pasta till al dente
  • Drain the pasta, and toss it in with the vegetables with about two to three tablespoons of the oil
  • Sprinkle a little salt to taste
  • Top with crumbled bacon and pine nuts and serve warm


A lifetime of Bolognese

 

From the time you girls could eat solid food bolognese was a favourite. The first time I ever had the sauce cooked at home was in Lahore, Pakistan. Dad and I were newly married, and there we were in a new country, sharing a house with a quirky English guy who was working on a project to preserve the old city.

John did not do anything domestic at all.  He worked, and came home to meals, and then spent the rest of his time working more in his room. But when he heard we were returning to Australia, John did a surprising thing: he cooked us a farewell meal.

From the American commissary where we were able to shop for ‘western’ provisions, he bought his ingredients of tomato paste, a package of parmesan cheese and a large can of tomatoes. He coerced Parvez the driver into taking him to the market, and found his other fresh ingredients.

I remember the excitement in the house: he seemed to be cooking all day. The smells that wafted from the kitchen were so tantalizing. After six months of eating mainly dhal and chapatis, the meal was delicious and memorable.

Our family recipe is the sum of many friends’ versions. When Graeme and the family came to stay in Richmond, I found he was liberal with the balsamic vinegar. In Los Angeles, Jon cooked his amazing version for our two families one night, and it had small chunks of steak in it with the ground beef. Our friend Madge mentions milk as an ingredient. I love that our family’s ultimate go-to comfort food meal has been shared at our table where ever we’ve lived with just about all our friends. Enjoy it at your table, with your friends! Oh, and be sure to make it your own along the way.

Bolognese Sauce

  • 2 lbs lean beef mince
  • ¼ lb. lean beef steak cut into thin strips ( optional)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes ( about 28 oz) 
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste or freshly squeezed juice of ½ a lemon
  • a sprinkle of pepper

 

Method:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil, and sauté the onion and garlic
  2. When the onion mixture is beginning to melt, add the meat and stir until evenly browned.
  3. Add crushed tomato, tomato paste and a ¼ cup of water  (if very dry)
  4. Stir in the parsley and bring the sauce to a gentle  bubble
  5. Turn the heat down, add balsamic vinegar, salt/lemon juice, sugar , pepper, and stir well
  6. Simmer on a very low heat for at least 30 minutes
  7. Serve over al dente pasta, sprinkle with parmesan or chili flakes