Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce

I just love the versatility of using a tomato based sauce. It works beautifully on its own as simple passata with seasoning or you can amp it up and throw a heap of veggies in, or pretty much any kind of meat and maybe even some cheese!

So the Sunday night ritual continues and the dilemma of how can I make an amped up sauce that suits one who doesn’t like cheese, one who won’t eat a non meat dish and the other who wants more than “just” bolognese.

I’ve over killed it with mince at the moment so decided not to use it and went with chorizo instead as the meat option. I love the flavour it gives the dish and it’s a bit more substantial than bacon or pancetta. I also used Barilla Napoletana Sauce as my tomato base and added in a heap of veg to make it an even more nutritious meal.

To make this a complete dish, I used Barilla Egg Tagliatelle as the base and to mix through the chunky sauce! I love the texture it has and it holds the sauce really well. It also cooks really quick (5 minutes in boiling water).

So if you’re salivating and to want to give this dish a go, keep on reading for the recipe!

Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce (serves 4-5)

What you’re going to need

250g pack Barilla Egg Tagliatelle

1 jar Barilla Napoletana Sauce

125 g chorizo, sliced evenly (1 sausage)

3 medium cup mushrooms, sliced thinly

generous handful baby spinach

1/3 medium zucchini, finely grated

1/3 medium carrot, finely grated

handful pitted kalamata olives

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to season

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Prepare a large saucepan with salted water and place on a low heat.
  2. In a large frypan, add the olive oil and bring up to a medium heat. Once hot, add the carrot and zucchini and fry for 2-3 minutes. Once softened, add the napoletana sauce. Before discarding the jar, half fill with water and shake with the lid on to get the extra sauce stuck to the sides of the jar. Add the water from the jar to the sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, add the sliced mushrooms and spinach and reduce to a low heat.
  4. In a small frypan, fry the chorizo until cooked. Drain on some paper towel and set aside.
  5. Once water is boiling, cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, add the chorizo and olives to the sauce. With 1 minute to go, add the basil.
  6. Serve immediately on warmed plates. (your choice if you want to mix the pasta through the sauce or serve the sauce on top)

Disclaimer: The Barilla Pasta and Napoletana Sauce were provided as a gift. I only support and endorse products that I have used or cooked with myself. 

 

 

 

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg

Want to up the veg but are craving carbs big time and you want more variety than just more baked potatoes?

To make this dish a quick one (~25 mins), you need to choose vegetables that cook quickly in a fry pan. My new favourite kitchen technique for cooking things quickly is ribboning your vegetables! It almost feels like you get more yield per individual vegetable as opposed to slicing them up. Easy as, all you need to do is peel your veggie of choice (usually carrot, eggplant or in this case zucchini) and peel and peel and peel to get long thin slices that will cook in about 2-3 minutes. Amazing!

Next, to pump up the veg even more i threw in some cherry tomatoes and chopped green beans! I added in chicken as well to satisfy the family taste buds but for work lunches i’d probably omit it for cost and longevity in the fridge reasons. This dish is also conveniently dairy free.

Anyway, let’s get into the recipe!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

3 cups spiral/fusilli pasta (I use Barilla)

1 small chicken breast, sliced into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with peeler

handful fresh green beans, chopped into even pieces

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways

Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup baby spinach

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 clove garlic, grated with microplane/crushed

zest of 1/2 lemon, grated with microplane

salt to season

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook based on packet instructions.
  2. In a pulse blender, add all the pesto ingredients and blitz until at the desired consistency (not a paste but not too chunky). Set aside
  3. In a lightly oiled fry pan on a medium heat, cook the chicken until 90% cooked. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and pesto. Stir well ensuring the pesto coats all ingredients.
  6. Strain cooked pasta and add to the fry pan of ingredients. Mix well to coat pasta in pesto. Serve immediately.*

Chicken Pesto Pasta

*Can be served cold. Will keep in the fridge for ~3 days (with chicken) and ~5 days (without chicken).

 

Chocolate Pancakes with Peanut Butter

Here we go again… chocolate and peanut butter. It will take a lot for me to give up this addiction so glad to say it’s here to stay!

When the pancake cravings strike, you really just have to get on top of it and so I chose to change up my go to pancake recipe by adding cacao powder to make them chocolate.

These measurements below are a rough guide. I have a tendency to forgot to measure my ingredients when I am making things but with this mixture, it’s important to have an equal balance of wet and dry ingredients. You don’t want the batter to be super runny or super thick.

You will notice that there is both self raising flour and baking powder in this recipe. I wanted to give the mixture as much lift factor as possible without using eggs (I normally make really small quantities and so an egg would overpower the batter).

These are conveniently dairy free and egg free!

Okay here I present to you…

Chocolate Pancakes with Peanut Butter (yields 6)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder (or a “pinch”)

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup non dairy milk (rice, oat, almond)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

peanut butter (I used Pic’s Crunchy PB for these)

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and cacao into a bowl
  2. Add the wet ingredients and whisk until mixture is well combined without any lumps.
  3. Allow mixture to sit for a few minutes before heating up a flat pan on a medium heat.
  4. Place even amounts of batter onto the pan. Flip when you see the top is covered in bubbles.
  5. Serve in a stack with peanut butter in between each layer!
  6. Top with some dairy free chocolate (optional)

 

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Mushroom and Prosciutto Triangles

It was just one of those days where I had the most odd combination of ingredients in my kitchen fridge and pantry. There were 3 mushrooms, a few slices of prosciutto, 1 tablespoon worth of chicken gravy powder and some sheets of puff pastry. This all lead to a fairly effortless dish but most definitely a tasty one. I decided to cook the mushrooms in a bit of Nuttelex, mix through the prosciutto and then bring it all together in a sauce resembling gravy. Turned out pretty delicious.

This is also the first time I have ever really worked with puff pastry. What a great invention! The super crispy texture of the pastry pairs perfectly with the succulent filling. Lunch was done right today!

These are conveniently dairy free and will take you around 20-30 minutes to make!

Mushroom and Prosciutto Triangles

What you’re going to need

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

3 mushrooms, roughly diced

2 small slices prosciutto roughly chopped

50-100 mls gravy (I used Gravox chicken gravy)

1 tablespoon Nuttelex

pepper to season

olive oil (for coating)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a small saucepan, cook the prosciutto until crispy. Set aside.
  3. Melt the Nuttelex in the same saucepan and then cook the mushrooms for 1-2 minutes. Add the gravy and simmer on a low heat until thick. Season with pepper.
  4. Cut the puff pastry into 4 equal squares with a sharp knife. Place a spoonful of the mushroom mixture in the centre of the square and then top with prosciutto. Fold over the pastry so it forms a triangle shape and the filling is securely inside. Seal the edge with a fork. Repeat until all 4 triangles are complete.
  5. Place triangles on a lined baking tray. Brush each one with a thin layer of oil in order to get them golden. Cook in the oven until pastry has gone golden and flaky. (around 15-20 minutes)
  6. Serve while hot!

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Vegetarian Curry

So I am a HUGE fan of curry. Pile on the chilli and I’m there (even though my eyes water through the whole meal but hey, you could say I’m crying of happiness). I have eaten hundreds of curries in my lifetime but I’ve never actually attempted to make one until today! This was so easy, all done in one pot (besides your rice) and creates this fragrant aroma that just makes you want to dive in straight away. This recipe is dairy free, gluten free and nut free. This could also work with coconut cream but I didn’t have any on hand and really wanted to utilise the food I already had in my pantry. Alas, it still tastes divine and flavoursome. This recipe will make 2 portions or 1 huge portion (no judgements here)

Vegetarian Curry 

What you’re going to need

1 medium potato, roughly chopped (medium sized pieces so they will cook through)

3 mushrooms, quartered

1/2 can chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup green beans

1 tomato, chopped

1 garlic, crushed

1 cm cube fresh ginger, grated

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground chillies (to taste)

vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

salt and pepper

handful fresh parsley

grain of choice (I used rice)

Method

  1. In a large, non stick pan (with a fitting lid), heat up some vegetable oil on a low heat. Cook the garlic, ginger, tomato and spices until fragrant. Season to taste.
  2. Add the water. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes to push the flavours further.
  3. Add the chickpeas, potatoes and mushrooms. Cook covered until the potatoes are cooked. Stir occasionally during this process to ensure all the vegetables are coated with the spice mix.
  4. Add the beans and parsley.
  5. Once combined, serve up with rice or your grain of choice. 12166011_10153204716919849_207321278_n

Economics and Food Unite

As an almost Economist (will be official after this semester), I have a keen interest in seeing what professional economists have to say about things. When I found one who encompasses both my passion for food and economics, I was ecstatic! Introducing Tyler Cowen, an American Economist and author of my most recent read ‘An Economist Gets Lunch’.

Cowen’s book serves as a guide for everyday foodies and emphasises the importance of minimising costs but still maximising utility. In English, how to get good food cheap.

I was completely engaged throughout the entire duration of reading this book. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Cowen’s one month shopping experience at an Asian supermarket (absolute goldmines in my eyes). Cowen also has the travel bug (like me) and so he ventures off to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. One of the main comments made by Cowen which has received a fair bit of criticism from external sources:

Unless you are spending a lot of money, Paris is the worst place to eat in all of France

As someone who has ventured to Paris, I agreed that the food was very expensive. However, I stayed in the Latin quarter of Paris and found unique, almost boutique style restaurants which served up traditional French at a very reasonable price. Cowen emphasises that if you are to find good food in cities overpopulated with tourists, you are best to venture to the outskirts. His economic justification for this is that the rents on the more suburban restaurants are cheaper therefore more money can be spent on investing in quality produce. I am in complete agreement with this.

I also especially enjoyed his discussion about methods of eating to help out the environment. One special mention is that he proposes that individuals give up refined sugar! For obvious reasons including that it isn’t exactly healthy but also due to the extensive costs involved in producing it. Markets shift in order to cater for supply and demand. The changing attitudes of individuals have a huge impact on the market as a whole and also contributing to this is the surge in food promotion via social media (particularly the preaching of natural, wholesome foods).In summary, processed foods = costly so try avoid it as much as possible to reap all the benefits. Yay!

So this was just a snippet from the book as I don’t want to give it all away. Cowen has successfully encompassed my two passions and has inspired me for my future travels later this year to delve into the unknown and discover the hidden gems that Europe has to offer. Even though before I choose a restaurant, I will have to perform a full economic analysis in terms of location, menu selection and the ambience before I make a decision, the long run investment will be worth it as I continue my food mission of finding cheap, good quality food.

Just one more memorable quote from Cowen in relation to restaurant dining:

If it sounds bad, it probably tastes especially good

Let’s be honest, majority of us are turned off by weird and wacky sounding dishes. I am becoming more accustomed to the philosophy of ‘not knowing until I try it’ both in the food world and life in general. If anything, Cowen has now inspired me to further explore the unknown and continue on my inspiring food journey.

Thanks Tyler.


Blueberry Muffins

Muffins of any kind are a great, light breakfast option if you’re stuck for time and need to eat on the run. They’re also perfect snacks and an excellent solution for 3:30itis. My goal with these muffins today was to get the crispy muffin tops which can only be achieved by cooking the whole muffin. If anyone out there has seen Seinfeld, there is an entire episode dedicated to Muffin Tops. I put this batch in the oven and hoped for the best and to my surprise, they came out with crispy tops! For all of you that want blueberry muffins with crispy tops, this is how I did it!

Blueberry Muffins

What you’re going to need

1 cup blueberries

1 1/2 cups self raising flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons olive spread, melted

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius

2. Grease your muffin tins with cooking spray (or can use pattie pans)

3. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Then, add all the other ingredients and mix together until well combined

4. Spoon mixture into muffin tins (mine yielded 6 as I wanted bigger muffins and crispy tops, but you could easily stretch the mix to make more)

5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of one of the muffins

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