Tag Archives: parmesan

Recipe: Strawberry Salad with Fennel and Parmesan

fennelThis is a salad that I’ve made twice recently, prompted by the unexpected availability of strawberries at local markets, along with the more seasonal fennel that is everywhere right now.  It’s inspired by – and quite similar to – a savoury strawberry salad by Michael and Cindy of Where’s the Beef, which is to say, I was sitting there with some strawberries and fennel which I wanted to turn into a salad and was trying to decide what to do next, and then I remembered that Michael and Cindy put parmesan in theirs and realised that this was clearly the ingredient I was missing.  Now I look at their version, I realise that toasted nuts of some kind would indeed have been fabulous, so I encourage you to add these.

Judging by the leftovers we had of this at dinner tonight, I would say you might profitably marinate everything except the salad greens and perhaps the parmesan in the dressing for an hour or so before serving (think balsamic strawberries), and then just toss the greens with everything at the last minute.  But you don’t have to.  It was lovely as is.

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1/2 a red onion (how does one write that, anyway?  Writing out ‘half’ looks silly in a list, but there’s no doubt about it, 1/2 a red onion looks pretty damn silly too…)
2 tbsp blackberry vinegar, or balsamic vinegar, since I realise that not everyone is lucky enough to have blackberry vinegar, which is a truly sad state of affairs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and if it happens to be infused with blood orange, more power to you!
1 medium fennel bulb
375 g beautiful sweet strawberries
150 g mixed salad greens
20 g shaved parmesan
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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: Farfalle with Asparagus, Broad Beans and Quail Eggs

I feel so pretentious even writing ‘quail eggs’ in the title of this.  Suddenly, it’s like I’m on Posh Nosh and I should be writing a recipe which says things like ‘mellifluously confuse the quail eggs until they are a pale primrose in colour’ (which I think means scramble them gently, but I don’t actually know for sure, even though I’m the one who made that sentence up).  But this isn’t about being posh – it’s about me having these fascinating little quail eggs and wanting to showcase them somehow!  It would work just fine with hen’s eggs.

This recipe is a bit on the fiddly side – all that shelling and skinning of broad beans and then shelling teeny tiny quail eggs – but took less time to make than I expected.  I think I started fiddling around with eggs and broad beans a bit after quarter to seven and we sat down to eat a bit before seven thirty, which is not bad in my view – though of course I was doing stuff all that time and the reason it didn’t take long is that none of the elements needed long to cook.  I did make a salad at the same time, though, so I wasn’t wholly occupied.  

On the other hand, it’s such a beautiful recipe for spring – all yellows and spring greens and very fresh tasting.  Do make sure you season it enough – I didn’t, and it definitely needed more salt.  I’ll probably play around with it more to perfect itAlso, I must confess that the recipe is somewhat vague in its quantities.  Sorry about that.  I think it’s fairly forgiving, nonetheless.

Your shopping list

Mama egg and baby egg…

8 quail eggs + 2 hens’ eggs, or 16 quail eggs or 4 hens’ eggs.   Or use duck eggs!  Whatever they are, make sure they are free range.
2 bunches of asparagus, probably 300g
2 bundles of broad beans in their pods, probably 1 1/2 to 2 cups shelled
350 g farfalle (bow tie pasta)
80 g parmesan
salt, pepper and olive oil

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Recipe: Macaroni Cheese with chipotle pepper, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables

Ah, cheesy pasta bake.  The best comfort food in the world, not least because you can put practically anything in it successfully.  Pasta bakes are my go-to dish when I have a lot of random vegetables in the fridge and no idea what to do with them.  Or when I have bits of cheese in the fridge with no apparent unifying factor.  Or when I am tired and unimaginative and just want some melty cheesy goodness to make everything better.

My pasta bakes actually started life as tuna casserole, but over the years, the veggies have gradually edged out the tuna.  Corn developed companion onions, then capsicums and carrots and celery, then baby spinach or other leafy greens, then asparagus or tomato or cauliflower or broccoli, and pretty soon you end up with a situation where you look at the casserole dish and you look at the vegetables and the cheesy sauce and you realise that you will have to choose between adding tuna and adding pasta (or a situation in which you pile everything into the dish, totaly misjudge its capacity, and end up with cheese sauce all over the kitchen).  The tuna always loses.  The cheesy sauce, you will note, is never even considered as something to leave out.  While I have made pasta bakes without it, cheesy sauce really is the point of this dish.

Anyway, while I never really make the same pasta bake twice, tonight’s iteration was successful enough that I felt I ought to write it down.  The quantities are a little vague, but I think you should view this not as a bug but as a feature – consider the areas of uncertainty an opportunity for you to add your own chosen ingredients.  Or more cheese.  Go wild!

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(technically, this is not a shopping list, because if you are doing this right, it’s more of a case of foraging through the fridge and realising that hey, you have a roasted pepper over here, and look!  there’s still some mascarpone left!  But if you are actually trying to replicate what I did, here is what you need.)

1/2 a bunch of baby spinach
1/2 a bunch of rocket
1 roasted pepper
2 heads of broccoli
2 heads of baby cauliflower or half a head of the full-grown kind
6 spring onions
75 g butter (garlic butter is good)
90 g flour
750 ml milk
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, plus a couple of teaspoons of the sauce
100 g cheddar
100 g parmesan (actually, I have absolutely no idea how much cheese I used, but it was certainly a lot)
75 g mascarpone, maybe.  I really have no idea about this one – it was what was left in the tub…
black pepper
375 g curly pasta or short pasta of your choice
 

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Recipe: Not Really Moussaka

It tastes much better than it looks…

So I had this idea about making vegetarian moussaka with some of the leftovers and veggies I had in the house.  And I looked at the Delia vegetarian moussaka, and liked the look of it, so I thought I’d give it a try.  But then I couldn’t leave it alone, because I realised she was doing it wrong (moussaka has to have layers or it doesn’t count, at least in my book).  And then I had to send Andrew out for Emergency Potatoes.  And then it would barely fit in my casserole dish even when I pressed it down really hard, so I couldn’t give it as much custard as it deserved (and a sane person wouldn’t have given it any).  And then I realised that I actually had a casserole dish which it would have fitted, only now it’s way too late because it’s all in the oven.  Also, it’s 8pm on a weeknight and I’ve only just got this in the oven, possibly because I only started cooking at nearly 7pm and then I fiddled around being indecisive about the recipe and not multitasking.

It’s going to taste fantastic, you know, but I really could have done it better.  Much better.  This quantity looks like it will feed about 6-8 people, depending on how hungry they are and whether they are having bread and salad on the side, and also depending what’s for dessert, because you have to leave room for dessert, you know.  Even when it’s chocolate pudding from a box.  Which it might possibly be, but I’m allowed to do that, because it will also be with fresh strawberries and stewed rhubarb and icecream, which makes it Healthy.  Well, maybe not the ice-cream, though, you know, calcium is good for humans, and anyway, who needs to worry about healthy when you’ve just eaten a main that is packed full of vegetables and lentils?  Not you.  Not me, either.

OK, maybe I should just get on with the recipe.

Your shopping list

2 eggplants
olive oil
salt, pepper
75 g puy lentils
75 g green lentils (or use 150 g of either puy or green)
375 ml vegetable stock (from a box, or make your own)
400g tinned tomatoes, or leftover quick tomato sauce
1 tsp cinnamon
200ml red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
600 g potatoes, thickly sliced
2 brown onions, chopped fairly finely
2 capsicums (one red and one green, ideally), chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed (or to taste.  I am a garlic fiend, and six cloves is positively moderate in my book)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried mint
500g yoghurt
2 tbsp flour
2 eggs
200 g feta
50 g parmesan

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Recipe: Baked Cauliflower

This is a very simple recipe, from a book called Reds, Whites, and Greens, by Faith Willunger As you might have gathered from the title, it’s a book of Italian things to do with vegetables.  I’m yet to find a bad recipe in this book, which I will be reviewing in the near future.  This recipe is lovely and fresh tasting, and gives cauliflower a zing I had not previously thought possible.  It’s like a light version of cauliflower cheese.  Only nicer.

Your Shopping List

1 head of cauliflower, purple if possible
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch parsley, flat leaf if possible
50g parmesan
salt, pepper

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Recipe: Lemony Garlicky Fractal Broccoli with Pasta

I wanted to call this creamy lemony garlicky floral fractal broccoli with pasta, but I thought that might be a tad long.   I haven’t cooked or eaten Romanesco Broccoli before, and the recipes I had all seemed to involve cutting it up small or mashing it, which may taste nice, but does seem to miss the point.  If you have something that looks as spectacular as this broccoli does, it seems rather a pity to pulverise it.  This recipe is lovely and fresh, and has almost a floral taste to it, which surprised me – I think it’s probably from the lemon, but a little bit of it is from the fractal broccoli too.  After all, broccoli is a flower…

Your Shopping List:

extra virgin olive oil
3 small leeks
4-5 small peppers (I used Italian sweet frying peppers, which have a lot of flavour and sweetness but no heat)
6 cloves of garlic
2 heads of broccoli romanesco
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup white wine
salt, pepper
125g fresh ricotta (not the stuff from a tub)
75g pine nuts, toasted
500g pasts (I used giant rotelle – any big, ridged pasta would do, though)
75g parmesan, grated
1/3 cup fresh mint, sliced
 
(Vegan / dairy-free variation below)

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Recipe: Pasta Carbonara, my way

My father’s family is from the Basilicata region of Italy, and even after moving to Australia, my Nonna and Nonno would make their own sausage every year.  I think one of my great-uncles kept pigs, or maybe just one pig each year, who was the source of said sausages. I never enquired. Nonna’s sausages were big, cured, salami-like things that would hang from the garage roof or from a hook in our pantry for weeks or months without going off.  They were fairly highly spiced, I think with chilli and fennel seed, but I could be making that up, and you had to slice them thickly and cook them to render the big chunks of fat before eating them.

Pasta carbonara, in my family, was made with chunks of this sausage, and not  with ham – if there was no sausage, my mother would use ham or bacon and add paprika to the dish, because the important thing about carbonara was that it had to be spicy.  If it was not spicy, we were told, it was not proper carbonara.  We never put cream in the recipe, either – it was all held together with eggs, ideally from Nonno’s chooks.  Nonna’s sausage and mum’s carbonara were two of my favourite foods as a child, and I was terribly disappointed the first time I ordered carbonara at a restaurant and got this weird, bland, creamy thing with ham.  Not the same thing at all.

The recipe is not my mother’s, though it started there.  It has since evolved to fit the ingredients I can get, with a few ideas from Rachel Ray thrown in.  It goes without saying that my carbonara does not taste anything like the carbonara you get at restaurants, though it is clearly a related dish.

I maintain that this is the only true and authentic way to make pasta carbonara.

Your Shopping List

250g spicy soppressa or Calabrese salami, whole, not sliced
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley
150g parmesan cheese, grated (the real stuff, please)
6 cloves of garlic
1 cup white wine
4 eggs
400g pasta (penne or penne rigate are my favourite kind for this)
black pepper
3 big tomatoes
2 capsicums
lettuce or cucumber
balsamic or red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
 

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