Category Archives: Pasta

08May/17

Spaghetti Carbonara

Oatly has hit the supermarkets with their dairy free crème fraiche and it is superb! And here we have our version, simple as always, of spaghetti carbonara and, even if I say so myself, it  was delish and every drop of sauce and morsel of spaghetti were wiped off in record time. We got our Oatly creamy oat fraiche from Tescos and the link is below in the ingredients.

Ingredients

250 grams spaghetti
2 tablespoon olive oil
250 grams chopped mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms)
1 mushroom stock cube (Kallo)
1 teaspoon onion granules (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sauce
1 tub Oatly crème fraiche
1 avocado chopped
10-12 wild garlic leaves OR 2 cloves grated garlic

Method

  • Fry mushrooms in oil for a few minutes
  • Add stock cube dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water, onion granules and a little black pepper, give it a stir to and set aside
  • Blend all the ingredients for the sauce
  • Boil spaghetti as usual and add to mushrooms
  • Pour sauce on spaghetti, give it a quick stir to warm through and serve

 

07Aug/15

Rich tomato pasta

Tomato pasta

This is a simple, rich and tomatoey pasta which doesn’t require much else and is bliss served by itself.  The whole garlic bulbs are sweet and creamy when cooked with the sauce.  If you wish you could serve with vegan meatballs or vegan sausages.  We also had some spinach on the side.

The only downside to this this recipe is that although it is very simple, the tomatoes do need to be simmered on low for a few hours…..this is what makes the sauce rich and creamy and so very perfect transforming a regular tomato pasta into food fit for angels and all things heavenly.

You could use any sort of pasta but I opted for Casarecce which is currently my favourite. Summer is here, so what better time to buy a bag load of ripe, sweet tomatoes and make your pasta divine.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

400 grams pasta, I used Casarecce
1000-1200 grams large ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
100ml red wine (optional, replace with water)
Sea salt
3-4 whole bulbs of garlic
700ml water
Some fresh herbs – whatever you have growing in the garden; marjoram, basil, oregano will do fine
Vegan meat balls to go with the pasta (optional)

Tomato pasta(3)

Method

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add all the chopped tomatoes, salt and red wine
  • Bring to boil, cover and simmer on low heat for about 2.5-3 hours…yes, you do need to cook the tomatoes really well

Tomato pasta(2)

  • After a couple of hours of cooking the tomatoes, mash them with a potato masher. Pop the whole garlic bulbs, a little water if required, cover and cook for a further 30-60 minutes until the sauce is thick and rich
  • Add 700ml water, bring to boil and add the pasta. Cook on low for about 20 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan
  • Add fresh herbs, stir and serve with vegan meatballs or sausages if you wish
19Nov/14

Hearty Winter Pasta

Pasta, spinach & soya mince

I did a simple all in one spaghetti a while ago when the sun was shining and a light pasta dish was so welcome with a glass of wine in the garden.  But those days are gone, the sun is waning and the evenings are closing in – it is after all November!  This hearty winter pasta is based on the all in one style but is far more robust and well, hearty!  We had a friend coming to dinner and I decided to make it a little bit special and quickly fried a few meat free balls for topping!  It went down very well indeed and second helpings were in order.

I have used a pasta which I had never seen or tried before called Casarecce – it is not actually a tube like penne, but more like rolled flat strips of pasta.  It worked beautifully and absorbed the sauce far more effectively than penne – a shape of pasta I have never really warmed to.  So grab yourself a pack of Casarecce next time you’re shopping – I am now hooked and well stocked up.

4-5 servings

Ingredients

400 grams pasta (I used Casarecce which worked beautifully – available at Sainsburys in UK)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large tomatoes, about 400 grams, chopped
200 grams fresh spinach or equivalent amount frozen spinach (chop if leaves are big)
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley (I buy big bunches, wash, chop and freeze – works well)
40 grams dehydrated soya mince (frozen vegan mince is fine too – about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
100ml red wine (optional, but it does add to the flavour)
Salt to taste
Vegan meat balls (optional – I used VegiDeli available at Holland & Barretts in UK and Goodness Direct online)

Pasta, spinach & soya mince(4)
Onion & garlic with tomatoes added

Pasta, spinach & soya mince(3)
Mixture ready for the pasta to go in

Method

  1. Fry onions and garlic in olive oil on low heat until translucent but not brown
  2. Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until mushy
  3. Add chopped parsley and fry for a couple of minutes to release flavours
  4. Add spinach, soya sauce, oregano and wine
  5. Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes until spinach has wilted and ingredients well mixed
  6. Add 650ml of water and the Casarecce.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and let it cook gently – packet says 10-12 minutes, but check. Keep stirring and check for salt.  Best to keep a kettle on the boil in case you need a drop more water.
  7. Fry the vegan meat balls and add before serving

Pasta, spinach & soya mince(2)

 

20Aug/14

Pasta, spinach & cherry tomatoes

Pasta, spinach & cherry tomatoes(2)

I think pasta is always at its best when kept simple – a dollop of good virgin olive oil, sea salt and possibly a dash of garlic.  However, there are times when we all crave a rich tomato sauce and that’s good too, why not?  All said and done,  pasta, olive oil and garlic have a long lasting relationship and remain best buddies.  I have added some cherry tomatoes and spinach to Conchiglie (that’s what I had in the cupboard – Penne is fine too) and the best part is this should take you very little time to put together.  I used fresh spinach which is better in a simple pasta dish – wash and cook and then chop roughly… enjoy!

Ingredients

250 grams Conchiglie
250 grams spinach, cooked and chopped
250 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
Sea salt

Method

  1. Fry the garlic in olive oil until pale golden
  2. Add halved cherry tomatoes and salt and fry on medium/high heat for about 3 minutes
  3. Add spinach and oregano and fry for a further 2 minutes
  4. Boil pasta and add to spinach and tomatoes – stir and fry for a couple of minutes to blend
03Aug/14

Spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti aglio e olio requires no introduction – it is an Italian classic which most of us are familiar with and a favourite with purists.  When you simply don’t want a tomato sauce with your pasta and crave something truly Italian, this is the one to go for and it never fails to deliver.

Instead of going for vegetables with tomatoes, I stuck to the simple olive oil and garlic theme and served it with broccoli tips and baked courgettes which were superb and a terrific accompaniment for this simple pasta.  Let me know what you think ……

4 servings

Ingredients

400 grams spaghetti (100 grams per person)
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
Sea salt
Few fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Method

  1. Boil water with a spoonful of salt in a large deep pan, add spaghetti and cook as per instructions on packet
  2. In a large wide saucepan gently fry the garlic slices on low heat. The garlic should be pale golden and not too brown as it will turn bitter
  3. While the pasta is boiling, take half a cup of pasta water and add to the garlic and take off heat – this will keep it from browning further
  4. Add spaghetti to garlic and oil and some sea salt to taste
  5. Stir in basil leaves and serve with courgettes and broccoli

Courgettes with mint

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes, sliced thinly (do not peel)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon dried mint
Sea salt
Chilli flakes (optional)

Method

  1. Mix courgette slices with all the ingredients except chilli flakes in a bowl
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 220C, 450F, gas mark 8 (my oven is not fan assisted)
  3. Place single slices, as much as possible, in your largest roasting pan
  4. Bake for 20 minutes – check after 15 minutes to ensure they don’t burn
  5. Sprinkle chilli flakes if using and serve with spaghetti aglio e olio

Broccoli tips with garlic

Ingredients

1 pack of broccoli tips (about 125 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Chilli flakes (optional)
Sea salt

Method

  1. Slit the broccoli tips lengthwise in two – won’t be 2 perfect halves, just slit the stem and tear apart
  2. Stir fry for about 12-15 minutes on medium low heat – I covered mine for a few minutes to cook the stems, keep stirring
  3. Serve with spaghetti aglio e olio
17Jul/14

Spinach, mushroom & ricotta lasagne

Spinach, mushroom, ricotta lasagne

Yesterday was another warm sultry day in London – oh joy!  Summer is here and our fingers are crossed in the hope that it will last the course!  

All the past wet and gloomy summers now a hazy memory; the sun is out and we couldn’t wait to get out into the garden and open a bottle of something – I settled for my usual Campari with soda and John went for a bottle of ale, each to his own I say.  The cats as usual followed us to the back of the garden which is where the sun moves to after 5pm.  Our garden is a typical long and narrow London garden which backs off to a railway embankment overgrown with tall native trees, which means we have our very secluded patch surrounded by trees and the sky and cats of course!  It’s almost like being in the country if it wasn’t for the trains, but we love them too and feel blessed and lucky.

Illu & Shimizu
Illu and Shimizu, sharing the seat with me (out of the picture!)

Irina 2013 summer
Irina is a “he”! The cat rescue lady thought he was a she hence the name! It doesn’t bother him so Irina it is and she doesn’t suffer from a personality disorder either – he’s a big time hunter! naughty cat

Back garden July 2014
Part of the back garden

Then there’s dinner to think of…… we weren’t inspired by the thought of a salad as we had skipped lunch and needed some proper food and lasagne got our vote.  I didn’t feel like something tomatoey and John had just been to the shops and come back with fresh spinach and mushrooms ….. not surprising then that I was inexorably and irretrievably drawn to a dish of spinach and mushroom creamy lasagne, possibly with a green salad – this was voted in and off I went to the kitchen to soak the cashews for the ricotta.

Not everyone loves spinach but I promise you this spinach, mushroom & ricotta lasagne will make you change your mind – just give it a go!  I will shortly post a recipe for a more traditional lasagne with tomato sauce and vegetables  (when we are next in the garden sipping Campari!) but for this I plumped for a béchamel sauce with ricotta.  The sauce and ricotta give it a smooth, mild and creamy texture and the spinach and fried mushrooms make for a happy marriage – perfect for a summer’s meal in the garden.

Lasagne no doubt requires a little preparation – works in stages and you do have a few pans and dishes to wash after – however, the good news is all the steps are short and easy and the result well worth it. 

I have used 800ml of soy milk for the béchamel sauce because John doesn’t like it too saucy and that’s ok by me! moreover, I couldn’t fault it as it was very juicy and moist – the ricotta in the spinach makes a lovely, creamy filling.  However, if you prefer it sloppier, add another 100ml of soy milk and a little more cornflour (about half teaspoon) to thicken the sauce.  Serve with a fresh green salad and see their faces light up!

4 servings 

Ingredients
Approximately 12 sheets of pasta (the sort which doesn’t require pre-cooking!)
Oblong ovenproof dish (mine is 11x8x2½ inches)

Ricotta
200 grams firm or medium tofu (Blue Dragon do a firm silken which is the firmest I can find)
½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
100ml unsweetened soya milk (almond or coconut is fine too)
Good pinch of salt

For the filling
500 grams fresh spinach (you could use frozen too; defrost and squeeze water out and chop – no need to cook)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
300 grams basic white mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bechamel sauce
800ml unsweetened soya milk (almond or coconut is fine too)
7 teaspoons cornflour (this makes a runny sauce and keeps the pasta moist)
Quarter of medium onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons margarine (I used Vitalite dairy free)
2 bay leaves
A little salt and some black pepper to taste

Method

Ricotta 

  • Put all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth

Filling 

  • Steam fresh spinach for about 15 minutes, squeeze out water and chop roughly. Add oregano and stir in the ricotta – set aside
  • Fry sliced mushrooms in olive oil for about 5 minutes – set aside

Bechamel sauce 

  • Add cornflour to a little milk (about ¼ cup) and mix thoroughly – set aside
  • In a saucepan, gently fry onion, garlic and bay leaves in margarine for 3 minutes – don’t brown, fry on very low heat
  • Add rest of milk to the onions and garlic and slowly bring to the boil
  • When boiling, lower heat and slowly add the cornflour paste to the milk, stirring all the time – cook for about 2 minutes on low
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Putting the lasagne together 

  • Pour about one-fifth of the béchamel sauce into the base of the dish
  • Lay 3 sheets of pasta, pour another one-fifth of the sauce on the pasta, top with mushrooms and spinach
  • Lay another 3 sheets, pour another one-fifth of the sauce on the pasta, top with mushrooms and spinach
  • Repeat twice more and top with remaining béchamel sauce – I used 12 sheets of pasta in my dish which is 11/8×2½ inches

Bake in pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for 40 minutes

28May/14

Spaghetti all-in-one

Spaghetti all in one(5)

This has to be one of my favourites and I simply can’t remember how I got here… perhaps caught a glance of some recipe some place, somewhere, and adapted the way I knew best.  For this recipe the spaghetti is cooked in the juices of the vegetables and not boiled separately which makes it so special – the pasta absorbs all the juices and is heavenly.  I simply refuse to do it any other way now if possible.  Do give it a go, takes no time and is delicious.

4 servings

Ingredients

400 grams spaghetti, broken into half
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 de-seeded chopped green chilli OR half teaspoon mild chilli flakes (Aleppo pepper sold as Pul Biber is medium hot)
1 teaspoon turmeric
300 grams sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large cup TVP mince (no need to soak) or 3 cups frozen vegan mince (Linda McCartney’s or Vbites)
Fresh spinach leaves, approximately 200 grams (chop if the leaves are large)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soya sauce
Salt if necessary – check after adding soya sauce
4 cups water, about 600ml (I use about 1 cup per 100 gram of spaghetti – add a little more hot water if it dries before the spaghetti is cooked)

Method

  1. Gently sauté onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, don’t brown
  2. Add turmeric, tomatoes, green chilli or chilli flakes, cover and gently simmer for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are squidgy
  3. Add mince, spinach, oregano, soya sauce sauce and water
  4. Bring to boil and add spaghetti, turn down heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until there is no liquid left and spaghetti is cooked