Prawn Linguine

The Sunday night dinner cooking slot at my house is all mine. I have free rein to make whatever I want. I am using it as an opportunity to practice cooking meat and seafood since I don’t normally cook meat/seafood based dishes for a single portion (tinned tuna does not count).

Having an abundance of pasta at home at the moment (Thank you San Remo) , I thought it would be good to whip up one of my favourite dishes, Prawn Linguine! A key component of this dish and one of my new cooking skills that I have taught myself is the prawn oil. This became the sauce of the dish and it is incredible how much flavour you can infuse into plain olive oil.

Since a lot of my friends are in Europe at the moment and I am having mega nostalgia from my trips in the past, I went with a Mediterranean theme for the complementary ingredients.

So let’s hop to it. Here is the recipe for you to give it a go!

Prawn Linguine (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

Pasta

250g Linguine (the one I used can be found here )

1/2 kilo green prawns, peeled and deveined (save the shells)

handful cherry tomatoes

handful baby spinach

1 tablespoon baby capers

Prawn Oil

Prawn shells and tails saved from the 1/2 kilo prawns

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 brown onion, roughly chopped (big chunks)

1 clove garlic, crushed with knife blade and not peeled

pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celcius. In a small baking tray, add the cherry tomatoes with a light drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Fill a large saucepan with water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring up to the boil.
  3. Whilst the tomatoes are baking and pasta water is heating, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion, salt and prawn heads and shells. Cook until aromatic (approximately 3 minutes). Once shells have turned orange, add the remaining olive oil and reduce to a low heat. Cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Cook pasta in boiling water until just al dente. Whilst waiting for the pasta to cook, strain the prawn oil in a jug and discard the solid bits. Set aside.
  5. With 2 minutes left for your pasta to cook (“just al dente”), heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan. Once hot, cook the prawns for 1 minute per side. Reduce to a very low heat and add the strained pasta, tomatoes, spinach and prawn oil to the pan. Mix well and ensure the prawn oil coats all the ingredients. Add the capers at the last moment before serving. Serve immediately.

Prawn Linguine

 

 

Barilla Cooking Class

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Northern Italian Winter pasta cooking class at Casa Barilla in Annandale, NSW. It was my first ever Italian cooking class and I was super excited. I entered the room and was warmly welcomed by all the Barilla staff and was served an aperitif. Then, it was time to meet the chef. Executive Chef Andrea Tranchero hosts all of the cooking classes at Casa Barilla and has done demonstrations at multiple food festivals and venues including the recent Good Food and Wine Festival in Sydney.

The class size was intimate giving a warm communal feel rather than a large industrial style class. We watched the chef create the two dishes we were to prepare ourselves later today and we were so amazed. The room smelled amazing and he made dishes that might seem complicated to the eye but are quite easy for anyone to prepare at home.

Andrea Tranchero plating up both courses.

So then it was our turn. First course was Cuttlefish Casserole in Red Wine and Garlic Sauce with Soft Polenta. I haven’t really cooked with a lot of seafood (tinned tuna does NOT count) but I love to eat it . So first up was preparing the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish was purchased from the fish markets earlier in the morning and was already cleaned (perfect). We pan fried it with some fresh garlic and the Barilla red wine and garlic sauce. Next step, the polenta. I really enjoy polenta but struggle to get it right. Thankfully, there is a pre prepared polenta that only takes 5 minutes to cook on the stove top! To finish it off, a mix through of some marscapone.

Progress shots from Course 1 and plate up

Second course was Three Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin, Crispy Guanciale and Sage. I had never really thought to eat puree with pasta but it just works SO well. Good way to get in extra veggies as well. So first we started with the pumpkin and leek puree. Really simple ingredients that complement each other perfectly. With the addition of freshly made chicken stock courtesy of Andrea, the puree was smooth and flavoursome. Next up was the sage butter sauce. We melted some butter in the pan until it was golden brown before adding freshly chopped sage. Once the tortellini was cooked, we added them into the butter with a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Once well combined, it was time for plating. Puree. Tortellini. Crispy Guanciale (similar to prosciutto and was fried in olive oil to get it extra crispy). Finished off with a drizzle of olive oil!

Progress shots from Course 2 and plate up

Each course was paired with beautiful Italian wine. After devouring our two courses that we freshly prepared, we had some Pure Gelato mini ice cream cones for dessert. Yum!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this cooking experience. Cooking classes give you a chance to learn a new skill, refine old ones and better yet, try out some flavour combinations you may not have even thought of! Would highly recommend you give one a go!


If you are interested in participating in one of Barilla Australia’s cooking classes, follow the link provided here – Barilla Pasta Cooking Class 

Click the links below for more info on Barilla Australia and Andrea Tranchero

@barillaaus

@andreatrancherochef

 

 

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

I must admit, I only really got into tinned tuna last year. Before that, I’d eat it sporadically and just mix it with corn kernels and seasoning. Now that I am working full time and often procrastinate preparing my lunch until the morning of…(habit I am trying to break that’s for sure), I often find myself looking for things I can just pick up and easily pair with something else. My favourite last minute lunch that is healthy and filling is just simply a tin of tuna, single serve microwave rice, half an avocado plus seasoning. Works well when it needs to but you can only eat so much tuna and rice right?

Alas, today’s meal was a combination of carb cravings, utilising leftovers and of course branching out of my go to tuna routine. The gift I had today was time. I wasn’t in a rush to bolt out the door and make my train and so could actually concentrate on making something flavoursome. This is simple home cooking and it just works so well every time.

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

1 cup spiral pasta

100 ml cream

1 teaspoon butter

1 70g tin tuna

handful baby spinach, roughly chopped

3 slices sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

tasty cheese, grated (quantity up to you)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. Cook pasta as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add the cream, butter and seasoning until well combined. Optional: mix in a bit of the grated cheese here for extra flavour.
  4. Once the sauce is ready, add the cooked pasta, tuna, spinach and tomatoes. Stir until the pasta is well coated and the additions are mixed in evenly.
  5. In a small baking dish, add the pasta mixture and spread evenly. Add the rest of the grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on the top goes crispy. Set to cool for 5 minutes and then eat.*

Tuna Pasta Bake.JPG

* This recipe is freezer friendly. Wait until completely cool and freeze in a snap lock bag. 

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells

Hope everyone is having a great Easter long weekend! I have been cooking away and experimenting a fair bit and I’m excited to share another recipe with you all.

I aim to make my work lunches with tuna or make them vegetarian just because meat is so expensive! I have been on a bit of a streak lately where I have come up with some tasty, filling and cheap lunch options. There were some odds and ends around the kitchen today. I wanted to use up the bits of food we had leftover both in the fridge and pantry to make this dish. I decided to substitute the meat in this dish with potato. It worked well and gave the dish the substance to make it a complete dish. I have also developed the flavours with cheese, garlic and Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

10 giant pasta shells (these were from a local food market which sells an abundance of Italian food products)

1 medium potato, diced

100 grams baby spinach

50 grams feta

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup Italian pasta sauce (I used Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce)

100 grams cheddar, grated (I used Mersey Valley)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a small saucepan, add the diced potato to cold water and bring to the boil. In a medium saucepan, bring a pot of water and salt (1/2 tablespoon) to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.
  3. In a food processor, blitz the spinach, feta, garlic, salt and pepper until coarse. (you don’t want to blitz it for too long and end up with a dip…)
  4. Mash the potato to remove the large lumps and then combine with the spinach mixture.
  5. Have a small baking dish ready. Place a heaped spoon of the filling into each of the giant pasta shells and place in one layer in the baking dish until all the shells are filled. Spoon pasta sauce over the shells and cover the top and around the sides. Place the grated cheddar on the top evenly.
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

 

Spaghetti with Garlic Infused Oil

Travelling to Italy later this year has got me all inspired with food lately! I was looking for a light lunch today as opposed to something with a thick tomato or creamy sauce. Olive oil serves as a perfect base for pasta sauces as it is easy to incorporate flavours and they won’t be overpowered. Today, I chose to do a garlic infused oil for the base. This was my first attempt to create it and it worked out perfectly. It is much cheaper to make your own garlic infused oil than to purchase the prepackaged ones! It also means you know exactly what goes in which is always a good thing!

Spaghetti with Garlic Infused Oil (serves 2)

What you’re going to need 

1/2 packet thin spaghetti

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the blade of a knife (not minced)

generous handful spinach

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

sprinkle pine nuts

salt, for pasta water

Method

1. Bring a large saucepan up to the boil with 1 tablespoon salt mixed through

2. Add pasta once boiling.

3. Heat up the oil in a frypan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry in the oil until fragrant (leave in longer for more intense flavour).

4. Once fragrant, remove garlic and add spinach and tomatoes. Cook until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are softened

5. Once pasta is cooked through, add to the sauce and toss through until evenly coated

6. Serve topped with pine nuts

IMG_4758

Tuna Zucchini Pasta Salad

So I absolutely love seafood! Unfortunately seafood can be a bit expensive at times and also inconvenient as I only like buying seafood from specific places. However, tinned tuna is my saviour and it’s always an item on hand at home. I wanted to add some protein to this salad and as I was in a bit of a hurry, tuna was the easiest choice. For this recipe, I have loaded the salad with greens so that it is super healthy! Also the best thing about it too is that I did not use any oils. I made a dressing out of the smashed avocado which i lightly seasoned and then I mixed that through the salad to give it moisture. It works as a creamy dressing so was a perfect accompaniment for the zucchini. I like making salads because it forces you to be creative with ingredients you have readily available. It is incredibly easy to whip together and so there’s no excuse to reach for fried or “fast foods”. This will actually save you a bit of coin too.

Tuna Zucchini Pasta Salad

What you’re going to need

1 tin tuna (any kind is fine, a healthier option is to choose one in springwater as opposed to oil)

1/2 zucchini, julienned

handful baby rocket

handful baby spinach

1/2 avocado, mashed (to prevent making more washing up, just mash up your avo whilst it is still in the skin. Its works as a bowl!)

10 walnuts

salt and pepper

lemon juice (optional)

Method

1. Season the avocado with salt and pepper

2. Place the tuna, zucchini, rocket and spinach in a bowl and combine with tongs.

3. Scoop the avocado in and mix through until all the ingredients are coated with avocado

4. Top with walnuts.

5. Drizzle with lemon (optional)

image1 (5)

Basil and Rocket Pesto

I love making pesto because there is no cooking involved besides what you’re serving it with. Which means…you can make it in bulk ahead of time and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it! I used rocket in my recipe because it adds another dimension to the dish and also just because it’s a great way to incorporate more greens into your diet! I’ve been making pesto for a long time but I feel like I can safely say that I’m 100% percent happy with the recipe I’m presenting today.

Basil and Rocket Pesto

What you’re going to need

Handful basil leaves (save yourself a heap of coin by growing your own)

Handful baby rocket leaves

1 clove garlic, crushed

6 walnuts

4 tablespoons olive oil

pinch sea salt

Method

1. Chuck all of your ingredients into a pulse blender/food processor until desired consistency is achieved

2. Serve with fettucine (I left a little bit of pasta water in with the pasta just to give to this dish a bit more moisture!