Tag Archives: asparagus

Recipe: Ravioli primavera

An actual savoury recipe!  Who knew I could still do those?  Actually, I have an uneasy feeling I’ve done something very like this before.  I mean, me, pasta, vegetables – that’s basically my default work night dinner, frankly.

But I think this is a little different to my last primavera, primarily because I’ve gotten a lot lazier since then.  Also, someone told me that adding some pasta cooking water to one’s pasta sauce makes it come together better, and they are quite right, so if nothing else, this recipe has that particular upgrade!  (I’m still hopeless at remembering to salt my pasta water, however…)

This is a pea-free primavera, because Andrew doesn’t like peas.  It is also a broad-bean-free primavera, because shelling broadbeans is for people who are much less lazy than me.  Besides, Woollies had pea ravioli with spinach and feta, so I figured our pea requirements were covered.

And that’s about it.  It’s a simple, tasty meal for four, and a good celebration of spring.

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Olive oil
1 bunch baby carrots
2 golden shallots (the French ones that look like miniature onions)
2 bunches asparagus
200g cherry tomatoes
60 g baby spinach
2 tablespoons pesto
100 g ricotta
50 g parmesan, finely grated
650 g vegetable ravioli (I used the aforementioned pea ravioli and a sweet potato one.  But any light-tasting vegetable ravioli will do.)
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Recipe: Asparagus and Carrot Pastries

My blog has gone a bit quiet over the last few days for several reasons. The first is that I bought an iPad, and succumbed to the excitement of cookbook apps and also interactive biology and chemistry textbooks, to the exclusion of all else. The second is that I got really cranky about politics, which meant that I started writing in my politics blog again, and there’s only so much writing I can do in one day. And the third is that… downloading interactive biology and chemistry textbooks (not to mention cookbook apps) kind of used up the last remaining shreds of our broadband for the month. I am currently writing this offline, while waiting for Cate’s Cates to load. It’s been ten minutes so far.   God only knows what it will be like when I have to upload pictures.

So you can expect a few more quiet days around here, until we get our broadband connection back.

Anyway, today is Grand Finals Day, and my team is in it. Very exciting stuff, and probably an apt occasion on which to post the delicious vegetarian goodies I made for last Grand Finals Day and inexplicably never found time to post about.

This is more of an idea than a recipe, but it’s a very good idea, and very easy to make, which works for me. I had bought a packet of puff pastry from the Fairfield Farmers’ Market, and was full of plans to make vegan sausage rolls, but then I was seduced by the simplicity (and cuteness) of asparagus and baby carrots in little puff pastry waistcoats (or more probably straitjackets, now that I look at them, but you probably shouldn’t tell your guests that while you are serving these).

And they were delicious, so everyone was happy. Especially me, because Hawthorn won.

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1 packet of puff pastry – I think mine was about 250 g
1-2 tablespoons of basil paste or pesto
1 bunch of asparagus (pick relatively slim asparagus, not the gigantically thick kind)
1 bunch of carrots
salt, pepper, lavender salt, chilli, parmesan – all optional

 

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Recipe: Asparagus and Haloumi Toasties

I love the word ‘toastie’.  I’m not at all sure I know what it means, mind you, and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t mean what I’m currently calling it, but it’s a great word.  So I am going to gleefully misuse it for the time being, and will choose to assume that it means ‘a toastie thing with grilled cheese on it’.  So there.

I’ve been under the weather for most of this week, and after a few days of this, I tend to start getting depressed as well.  At around day four of any malady, I start assuming that the pain will not ever stop, that I will feel sick and miserable for the rest of my life, that this is it.  And then I start contemplating the fact that when I was about seventeen, I had this very vivid belief that I would be dead before I was forty.  And I’m now thirty-eight.  Yep, less than two years to go.  This is clearly The Beginning Of The End.

And so that’s what the inside of my head looks like right now.  Well, not right now, or I’d be curling up with my head under the doona again, but for most of the last few days.  As of about an hour ago, I started suspecting that, in fact, I might live.  Which is almost certainly the benign outcome of all the asparagus I had for dinner.

Anyway, you are probably here for the toasties and are wondering why you were just treated to the dark side of my somewhat neurotic psyche.  I’m sorry.  I don’t actually know the answer to that question, either.  I suspect you are just lucky.

The point is, however – and yes, I do have a point – that toasties are one of the best foods to make when you aren’t feeling very flash.  Any meal that can be prepared in under ten minutes is a meal that is your friend.  If it contains melted cheese (the definition of comfort food), it is your very good friend.  And if you manage to make it so that you shoehorn a whole lot of vegetables into the meal, too, in a handy, minimal-preparation format, it is not just your very good friend, but your very good friend that might actually be providing you with some useful vitamins.

This is my favourite kind of edible friend.  (Note: most of my friends are not edible.  I assume.  I haven’t been going around nibbling to find out.)

And vegetable-infested cheese on toast is one of my favourite kinds of meal.  This one is especially good, of course, because it contains asparagus.

And that right there would probably have been introduction enough, without any of the neuroses.  Then again, if you were looking for concise introductions and no neuroses, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place…

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Four slices of good bread (sourdough is good, but if you found beetroot bread at the deli, that is even better, because it is PINK.)
2-3 tablespoons of hummus
2 roasted red peppers
12 nice, fat asparagus spears
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 big handful of baby spinach (about 50 g)
8 thick slices of haloumi cheese (about 150 g, but that really is a guess)
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Farmers’ Market Post: ASPARAGUS ASPARAGUS ASPARAGUS

Can you guess what was at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday?

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Recipe: Fruity Crunchy Spring Salad with Duck

Let me just state up-front that I really do not know how to cook duck properly.  So I have no intention of telling you how to cook the duck, other than passing on the general hints given to me by the stallholder, which really very nearly almost worked.

The salad, however, was lovely and perfectly spring-like, and should be recorded.  You can eat it very happily without the duck, too.  I suspect that strips of any suitably marinated meat, or of marinated tofu or mushrooms, would be lovely with this too.

Sadly, I was having a bad photography day when creating this recipes, so I apologise in advance for the rather dubious photos.

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70 g mixed lettuce leaves
3 spring onions
150 g strawberries
1 blood orange
50 g pistachios
4 slices pasta dura bread
150 g asparagus (weight after you have snapped off the ends)
olive oil
salt, pepper
2 duck breasts

 

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Recipe: Spring Vegetables with Lemon Gnocchi and Mint

I love this time of year at the farmers’ market.  After living in the land of brassicas and root vegetables for months, suddenly we are gifted with sweet baby carrots, new peas, herbs, greens of all kinds, and, of course, asparagus.  Add a packet of beautiful gnocchi from Take Me Home and some ghee from the Butter Factory, and you have a meal I could eat every day for a month.  Or at least, that’s how it feels right now.

This may look kind of messy, but it really is a thing of beauty when you taste it – bursting with the sweet flavours of new vegetables, with a zing from the lemon in the gnocchi, and a touch of freshness from the mint.  Perfection.

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185 g peas (fresh if possible, frozen if that’s what you can get)
25 g ghee (or olive oil, if you are veganly inclined)
4 spring onions
10 baby carrots (about 175 g)
2 cloves garlic
10 asparagus spears (about 240 g before you snap off the ends)
3 tiny zucchini (about 180 g)
500 g lemon gnocchi (or plain gnocchi, and the zest of one lemon)
lavender salt (or plain salt plus some lavender or tarragon), black pepper
250 g cherry tomatoes
350 g fresh spinach (a medium-sized bunch)
a good handful of mint

ingredients

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Recipe: Pasta with Ricotta, Herbs and Spring Vegetables

This is the revised version of a recipe I noted down here a while back, because I never really put in any quantities, just typed in the ingredients as I remembered them, because it was late and I was tired!

But the recipe really is too delicious not to be written up properly, and with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes starting a new Pasta Please monthly challenge with a cheese theme for January, it seemed the perfect time to re-visit this recipe and do a proper version of it.  So here is the new, improved version with actual quantities and also variations!

The quantities I’ve noted below will definitely work, but feel free to experiment or change things – the essence of this dish is pasta, ricotta, and some herbs and vegetables so that you can pretend it isn’t all about the cheese.  You really can’t go wrong with this sort of meal.

Vague shopping list

1 punnet (250 g, approx) shelled broadbeans

1 small bunch of parsley

1 handful each of basil and mint

350 g ricotta

100 g parmesan, grated
25 g salted butter
black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of butter, olive oil, or, ideally, a combination of the two, for sautéing vegetables.
3 spring onions (the long skinny kind)
1 baby fennel bulb
2 small bunches asparagus
3 yellow pattypan squash
350 g rigatone pasta
 

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Recipe: Vegan Pizza Primavera with Salsa Verde

There seems to be a bit of a theme on this blog recently, doesn’t there?  But what can I say?  It’s Spring! And that is, after all, what Primavera means…

I tend to be much more vegetarian-oriented in the months from about October to April each year.  It’s to do with what’s in season, I think – it’s really not difficult to come up with lovely vegetarian meals based around tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, asparagus, beans, corn, zucchini, and all the other lovely things we get around here at this time of year. And the warmer weather encourages shorter cooking times and lighter appetites and fresher tastes. So we will be vegetarian four or five days a week, and sometimes more at this time of year.  Winter is harder – it’s difficult for me, at least, to get truly inspired by meals centering around root vegetables and leafy greens.  I have some, of course, but they are fewer and farther between.  I don’t really like stodgy food, either, and seasonal vegetarian food for winter often is stodgy…

Anyway, this pizza is so brilliant that it really doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan or an omnivore.  It’s gorgeous whichever way you slice it (and speaking of slices, I recommend scissors for cutting up pizza – good enough for my Nonna, and now good enough for me, too).  It is, I must admit, particularly welcome on a night like tonight, being set out in company with a pumpkin, feta and rocket pizza (for which I must also provide the recipe one day), a conventional sort of pizza with eggplant, salami, roasted peppers, semi-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, and Nigella Lawson’s Meatzza, which is a Margherita pizza with a meatloaf base.  This pizza provides much needed lightness and freshness to the meal, and the salsa verde keeps it zingy.

But it’s pretty fabulous all on its own, too, and we have eaten it as a meal on several prior occasions, without feeling any lack of meat.  Give it a try!

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Base

1 tbsp dry yeast
1 cup water that is just barely warm to the touch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups fine semolina or 2 cups high protein flour, or half and half

Salsa Verde

1 cup basil leaf
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup coriander
2 Garlic Cloves crushed
50 g salted Capers well rinseded
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
45ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a good pinch of salt
freshly ground Black pepper

Vegetable topping

2 bunches asparagus
1 baby fennel bulb
1 small zucchini
300 g cherry tomatoes
6 small mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
oregano, black pepper

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Primavera

First up, I should confess: the version of this dish you see is not 100% vegan, because I had this beautiful fresh egg pasta that needed to be used.  But the sauce is definitely vegan, and as I actually cook with egg-free pasta most of the time, it will certainly be vegan next time I make it.  So I think this counts as a vegan pasta dish, at least in its heart!

The sauce for this pasta is light and herby in flavour – I was trying to get a sort of ricotta-ish personality to the tofu, and I think I succeeded.  It’s actually based on a cheese, nut and herb purée from Mark Grant’s excellent book, Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.  If you have any interest in historical foods that are actually edible and don’t involve flamingoes or dormice, I can highly recommend this cookbook.  The vegetables were what looked good at the farmers’ market and at the supermarket.  This recipe is, of course, even more fun if it’s what looks good in your garden, so if you have zucchini peas or string beans growing, feel free to use them in place of some of the other vegetables.  This recipe is very forgiving.

Don’t be intimidated by the very long list of ingredients for this recipe, by the way.  I promise that this recipe is very easy to make (the blender does much of the work), and practically every ingredient can be substituted for what you have on hand.  If you have a herb garden, you can have a lot of fun picking the different herbs for the sauce.  If not, don’t worry if you miss a few of them.  I think the parsley, coriander and mint are the most important, though the basil is good too.

Above all – enjoy!

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200 g tofu
150 g pine nuts
half a bunch of fresh parsley
half a bunch of fresh coriander
two sprigs of mint
two sprigs of basil
one sprig of oregano
four sprigs of dill
80 ml olive oil + more to sauté the vegetables
60 ml red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
150 g shelled broad beans (about 400g in the pod)
3 baby leeks, halved lengthways and sliced
1 baby fennel bulb, or half a standard fennel bulb, sliced finely
1 bulb of baby garlic (at the point where it is still a single clove), or one clove of the mature kind, chopped finely
12 baby carrots, as many colours as possible!
2 bunches of asparagus (about 225 g prepared weight)
1/2 cup white wine
400 g cherry tomatoes, as many colours as possible!
60 g spinach or rocket or a combination of both
500 g pasta, to serve

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Garden post of extreme excitement

Look at this!

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