Category Archives: Recipes – pasta

Soba noodles with a Basil, Cardamom and Coriander lime sauce


Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon and lime vinegrette

A few weeks ago I went to a pottery workshop in beautiful Titirangi, Auckland New Zealand. They served a delightful vegetarian lunch and one of the dishes served was from Yotam Ottenlenghi‘s SIMPLE. The cookbook is filled with really easy recipes and after tasting this soba dish, I just had to remake it at home.

My recipe below is an adaptation of the original recipe, as J is allergic to pistachios and avocados are out of season. We also don’t have Nigella seeds so have used chilli flakes instead. This is optional.

Love the tanginess of the lime, but mostly, I am blown away by the cardamom. Feel free to up the cardamom quantities, I have been quite liberal with it myself! You should have left over dressing with the quantities below, which is great stored in a jar for a second meal.

Ingredients

  • 250g buckwheat soba noodles
  • ½ tsp of cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 35g (1 cup) basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 35g (1 cup) coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 limes: slightly press and roll limes on the bench surface. Finely grate for 2 tsp zest, then juice to get 80ml.
  • Extra lime, cut into 4 wedges, to serve
  • 5 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 drops of garlic essence (optional)
  • 1 red or green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 ripe avocados, deseeded and cut into thin slices (optional)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional), to sprinkle over
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. Once cooked, drain into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside in the colander to drain well.
  3. Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle (if using pods, open for seeds and discard the outer husks).
  4. Place the crushed cardamom seeds in a mixing jug with the basil, coriander, lime zest and juice, oil, garlic, chilli, avocado (if using) and 1 tsp salt.
  5. Place noodles in a large mixing bowl and pour dressing in. Mix everything together well, taste and add more seasoning if needed.
  6. Serve platter style. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, if using, and serve with a wedge of lime.

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Vietnamese Beef Pho (broth recipe)


Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

We are a pho-loving family. I don’t think there is ever a time we would reject one – hottest day of the year maybe, but it rarely gets extreme here in Auckland.

Pho is the best antidote to the coldness of a crisp Autumn night. Squeeze of lime, tears of vietnamese mint, rings of picked onions, fresh beef and slices of firey hot chillis. Pour in a good broth and devour. Yum yum 😋🍲🐂 Good for the body and soul!

Ingredients:

Broth

  • 2 onions, halved
  • 6cm piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
  • 1kg beef shin meat with bones
  • 4 litres of water
  • 1 spices package in mesh stock bag (2 cinnamon stick, 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 6 whole cloves)
  • 60ml light soy sauce
  • 60ml fish sauce
  • 1 small chunk of yellow rock sugar

To serve

  • 3 servings of rice noodles (dried or fresh)
  • Cooked beef from the broth (shredded or thinly sliced)
  • 500g skirt or topside beef, shaved thinly
  • big handful of each: mint, coriander, thai basil
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 red chilli, sliced
  • 2 big handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha hot sauce

Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

Directions:

Charing: You can do this step either on the gas stove top or in the oven.

Place cut slices of ginger and onion halves on a wire rack and place on the stove or in the oven. Grill on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue until they sre nicely browned.

Parboil the bones: Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add beef shin and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, wash the blood and muck off the bones and rinse out the pot. Refill pot with 4 litres of hot water and beef shin. Bring back to a boil then lower to a simmer. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top.

Perfecting the broth: Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef and set aside (you can eat the meat later too.) Strain and return broth to the pot – now is the time for tasting and seasoning. If the broth’s flavor isn’t quite there yet, add 1 tablespoon more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small piece of rock sugar (or 1 teaspoon of regular sugar). Keep doing this until the broth tastes just right.

Prepare noodles & meat: Slice your beef as thin as possible – try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing. Shred the cooked shin meat and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions. If they are fresh rice noodles, just blanch it for 1 minute.

Serving: You are ready to serve when your meat and noodles are in bowls and all other ingredients plated. Bring the broth back to a boil. Once boiling, pour hot broth into each bowl, cooking the raw beef slices in the process. Serve straight away. Everyone can style their bowls as they like.

Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

Healthy Easy Kids’ Mac and Cheese (Baked pasta with vegetables and cheese)


Who doesn’t like mac & cheese? Even when J still had a bit of intolerance to dairy, she managed to scoff down mac & cheese. An easy meal that with a few changes, becomes the quick go-to meal that you know your child will eat any time.

Instead of the cheesy buttery sauce, I’ve swapped that for some pesto and tomato-based pizza paste, which gives the dish a fresh, light and herby taste. The addition of milk is optional, it just makes a bit more sauce for the dish. I’ve added ham and sausages for protein (not too much as overdoing the processed meat is not a good idea either) and vegetables for fibre.

Keep some in your freezer for those emergency dinners.

Ingredients

2 cups macaroni or other medium shaped pasta (like shells or spirals)
3 tablespoons butter
4 tbsp pesto
4 tbsp pizza paste
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup ham slices and sausages, diced
1/2 cup vegetables – mushrooms, courgettes
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 200C degrees.
Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve some of the pasta water.
Add the pesto, pizza paste, milk, ham and vegetables, mix.
Add half of the cheese, mix.
Spoon the pasta into little ramekins or a large casserole dish.
Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.
Bake for about 7-8 minutes, until it is brown on top.

Easy and light carbonara 


Easy carbonara with streaky bacon, eggs and cheese

We all love an easy and quick pasta dish. This recipe uses staples of the pantry and fridge, which means it can be whipped up anytime. Perfect for the flat and family, as it is easy on the wallet. It cooks in 15 minutes or less (mise en place done and water boiling). It has neither cream nor milk. Only eggs and cheese to make it creamy and cheesy. It tastes so much better than store bought sauces that you would silently marvel at its simplicity and wonder why you didn’t know this years earlier. Well in my case, I wondered out loud.

Better late than never, eat up!

Ingredients

Serves: 4

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 250g prosciutto or streaky bacon, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks (save the whites for making macarons, meringues and marshmallows)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheese, mozzarella, Edam, anything you like really!

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a tablespoon of salt when the water starts to boil.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs, a tiny tiny pinch of salt and the grated cheese. Set aside.
  3. Add the pasta to the water and cook till it is nearly al dente (about 8 minutes)
  4. While the pasta is cookingfry the diced prosciutto or bacon in a thick based pan until coloured. Add minced garlic and fry for another minute.
  5. The key point is to cook the pasta and meat simultaneously, and not letting the pasta over cook. Better let the meat wait for the pasta, than the pasta for the meat.
  6. Reserving most of the pasta water, remove the pasta from the pot and put it in the pan together with the meat and stir to combine. Add a cup of the pasta water to the pan.
  7. Take the pan off the heat and pour in a quarter of the cheese and egg mixture. I usually add that closer to the side of the pan closest to me. Working really quickly with tongs, I vigourously stir the cheese and egg mixture in with the pasta until the sauce is smooth and clings to the pasta. If done quick enough, the sauce will be silky and creamy, and shouldn’t be eggy nor lumpy.
  8. You may need to add more pasta water – make sure this is added to the opposite side of the pan where you add the cheese and egg mixture. Repeat step 7 until all the cheese and egg has been added.
  9. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

    It might take you several times to master the speed and action to achieve the perfect silky sauce. I promise you once you’ve got it, you (and your family) will be very glad you’ve mastered this recipe.

    Spaghetti with meatballs in red wine tomato sauce


    A friend was looking for an easy pasta dish to extend her family meal repertoire. Her daughter loves pasta and meatballs and so I thought to write up my recipe and share it with her.

    If you don’t have time to prepare the meatballs, you can easily use the mince to make a spaghetti bolognese instead. Just omit the egg and panko crumbs while marinating, and fry off the meat after the shallots and onions.

    Serves 2 hungry adults and 1 pasta-loving child

    Ingredients

    300g spaghetti

    For meatballs:
    500g minced beef and pork ( 50/50 is fine )
    1 egg
    2 tbsp tomato paste (condensed tomato)
    1 tbsp light soy sauce
    1 tbsp ground black pepper
    1 tbsp thyme (dried is fine)
    2 tbsp basil leaves, torn (dried is fine)
    1 tbsp sugar
    3 tbsp panko crumbs (or bread crumbs)

    For sauce:
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely diced
    2 shallots, finely diced
    1 tbsp chilli flakes (optional)
    small glass of red wine
    1 tin, chopped tomatoes
    1 tin, tomato purée
    handful of basil leaves
    100g pecorino cheese
    salt to taste
    Brown sugar to taste

    Instructions

    In a large bowl, mix the minced meat, egg, tomato paste, light soy sauce, sugar, diced shallots and herbs together. Using a small spoon, shape the meat into small balls and place in an oven proof dish. You will have about 30-40 small balls. This can be prepared night before.

    Preheat the oven to 180C.
    In a frying pan, gently sauté onions and shallots in the olive oil until soft. Add chili flakes and red wine, let it simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and purée and let it bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes to reduce. Stir occasionally to avoid it catching on the bottom of the pan. Taste it while the sauce is cooking – trust your taste buds and add a bit of brown sugar if it tastes too sour for your liking.

    While the sauce is cooking, put the dish of meatballs into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or till juices run clear. By all means try a piece.

    At the same time, put water into a large pot and bring it to the boil. Add the pasta in and add 1 tsp of salt. Cook it till al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Test it close to the 10 minute mark as I find my kind of al dente might be different to yours and I certainly don’t always follow the suggested times in the packet 100%. Drain pasta and add to the sauce. Add the meatballs to the pan, mix well and serve with freshly grated pecorino cheese (optional) and freshly picked basil leaves.

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