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Tag: parmesan

Creamy Zucchini Linguine

creamy zucchini linguine

It’s time for some more pasta I think. Melbourne, in its cheeky European-esque manner, has decided to have a good cry on all the plants and a few bits of stray washing outside today. It’s a good day for staying inside, drinking tea and making lists.

Pasta is rarely something I cook for guests, because I think they deserve more of an effort than that. But as a homey dinner for one, this is spot on. There’s something so inherently comforting about a bowl of pasta that for once isn’t laced with pesto or marinara, something cheesy and decadent but with still enough of a vegetable percentage for you to hi-five your conscience for getting at least one fifth of your five a day.

The combination of zucchini, garlic, thyme and dairy is one you’ve come across before here. If you by some chance are in possession of too many zucchinis, make both recipes.

 

Creamy Zucchini Linguine

Serves 4, with salad or something else to accompany it – can be halved or quartered to suit your needs

 

400g linguine, or whatever pasta you favour

3 Tbsp olive oil

4 small firm zucchini, diced into 1 cm cubes

1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves picked, chopped

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

250ml cream

1 splash soy sauce, because umami, obviously

salt to taste

90g / 1 cup freshly grated parmesan

chilli flakes

 

Bring a big pot of water to boil and add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Add your linguine and cook for as long as the packet instructions say, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking.

In the meantime, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan and add the zucchini and the thyme. Fry the cubes over high heat until golden and cooked but still holding their shape. Add the garlic and  stir for another minute, before adding the cream, soy sauce, salt and ¾ of the parmesan. Set aside.

Pour your pasta into a colander, give it a good shake, and then add it to the sauce in the fry pan. Give everything a  stir and divide amongst four plates. Top with the rest of the parmesan and a few chili flakes.

 

PS: Feel free to add a whole 500g packet of pasta here. I just like a higher sauce to pasta ratio.

Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs

sun-dried tomato and mushroom hot dogs

Have you ever felt frustrated by the overpriced mediocreness of those tubes of biodynamic free range soy which, in the occasion of a barbecue, to which you are invited, being the only vegetarian, you are forced to procure, because you do not just want to be limited to boiled sweetcorn and grilled zucchini. You want to feel the fulness that only the combination of protein and carbs can give you. So you buy them anyway, but still feel like you’re not part of the mob, because obviously you’re missing out on what is the whole point of having a fire: Le meat. Do you? Ha I don’t. Not anymore. I suffered for years my friend, so  I do know your pain. However I feel as  soon as I started to finally become cool (e.g. joining the carnivores), cautiously, but evermore enthusiastically exploring what that world of meat had to offer, vegetarianism had started to become the new cool. Such a trendsetter I was, way way ahead of my time. What use was it to me now.

I kid you, it’s super helpful. I still predominantly eat vegetarian food. It’s fun, it’s delicious, it’s easy, but it’s also  a challenge. And I love challenges. We will never have an equal substitute for meat, because that would defy the point of not eating it, and it would be insulting to the deliciousness that meat has to offer.

What I present you is a delicious alternative to the hot dog. It is jam-packed with umami flavours, a beautiful marriage of sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised mushrooms, a hint of smoked paprika, a dash or red wine and a scattering of parmesan. And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, I sneakily add a handful ground almonds to boost the protein content. These hot dogs aren’t an alternative. They’re their own star. Go forth my vegetarian and non vegetarian friends, and enjoy the tastiness which is the incredible polenta hot dog.

 

Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs

This makes a bit more than a liter of mixture, which will fill one large baking tray, which can be sliced into 18+ rectangle hot dogs.

 

A few tbsp olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

a drizzle of golden syrup, honey or a sprinkle of sugar

10 button mushrooms, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp smoked paprika

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp soy sauce

 

100ml red wine

900ml water

vegetable stock powder

1 cup / 160g fine polenta

50g butter, cubed

1 cup / 100g finely grated parmesan cheese

½ cup / 50g ground almonds

10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large fry pan and add the onions. Stir occasionally until starting to turn brown. Add the golden syrup to speed up the caramelisation. Once you’re happy with the colour, add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, paprika and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until it starts to smell delicious and the mushrooms seem cooked through. Add the soy sauce, stir a few more times, then take off the heat.

Heat the wine and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the veggie stock powder (up to you how much – you can always add more right at the end), and stir in the polenta. Keep stirring until it goes thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter, cheese and almonds. Once that’s nicely incorporated, add the sun-dried tomatoes and the mushroom mixture. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the mixture out evenly. Let it cool out completely, either at room temperature or in the fridge to speed things up, and cut into desired length/shape.

At this stage you can pack a few away into a plastic bag and find a nice spot in the freezer for them. Because really, you’re not going to manage to eat all of them in the next few days.

When you’re ready to finish them off, preheat your oven to 200°C and bake them for 20 minutes or so until browned. Same procedure for the frozen ones, although they might need to be in there for a bit longer. I found they hold their shape best with this method. You can also fry them, but make sure you use enough oil, because they tend to stick. Serve with hot dog – friendly condiments.

Pesto rosso

pesto rosso

I love Saturdays. Maybe not quite as much as Fridays, but they’re very close. Growing up in Switzerland, my family and I would always go to the markets on Saturdays. The vendors would give me olives to sample, or a morsel of cheese, and little cups of home made cordial. Such bliss. There’s no way you’d be able to get a loaf of bread to stay crunchy for more of a couple of hours in this ridiculously humid climate here in Australia. The cheese would be kidnapped by an army of flies before it would have time to go off in the sweltering summer heat. Aah, I’m being too harsh. I love you both, my two homes. What one place lacks, the other has plenty of, tearing me back and forth, making it difficult to decide if I could ever live in the one place forever…

Let’s get back to business. One of our favourite buys on Saturday mornings was the pesto rosso we’d get from a friend’s shop. We’d eat that deliciousness with cheese, on bread, with maybe a few sliced picked cucumbers. It never occurred to me I could make it myself until I stumbled across it on this gem of a site, The Traveller’s Lunchbox. Pestos should always be made at home anyway. You save yourself money and disappointment. Which is a pretty good deal in my opinion. Get pestoing. And give your mother some. She’d love that.

 Pesto Rosso

20 semi dried tomato halves

80g grated parmesan

80g roasted walnuts, roughly chopped

2 medium rosemary sprigs, picked and chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ tsp salt

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

2 pinches chilli flakes

6+ Tbsp olive oil

Combine all those beautiful ingredients in a jug or something with tall sides and introduce them to your hand held blender, or alternatively use a different blending device. You know what’s best. Whizz until well combined. You might have to add more oil. Yum yum. Now get a spoon and try. Or if you’ve got manners spread some on a piece of toast. Or fold through pasta with a few roasted cherry tomatoes. Or combine with some sour cream  to make a tasty spread or dip.

pesto rosso and cream cheese

Yeah. That stuff. Pesto.

One of the simplest dinners ever would be pesto pasta. Tasty and filling. Or at least I hope it’s like that for you. Quite possibly, you’ve got your own very special reipe which was handed down to you by your Italian great grandmother. I’m sure you’re recipe’s great, I really am. But this here is how  I do it.

Thinking back, as a young ‘un, I always felt there was never enough pesto on the actual pasta. Those store bought jars were always just too damn small. And if I put too much parmesan on it I’d almost choke on the dryness it imparted on this otherwise beautiful little dish. That is why these days people, I make my own pesto. My father’s girlfriend looks after these amazing basil bushes at the back of our house, so whenever the urge comes upon us, we make pesto. I like my pesto cheesy, and nutty. And salty, with a bit of tang. I like to mix it with cream cheese and a little sour cream for a yummy dip, or mix it into a salad dressing…or slathered over pizza. Whatever you’re up to with this, make sure you make twice the amount, if you can. Because it’ll vanish far quicker than you’d think.

Pesto

¾ cup firmly packed fresh basil

35g grated parmesan cheese

40g roasted cashews

2 large garlic cloves, halved

1 Tbsp lemon juice

4+ Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Add all the ingredients to a measuring jug or some sort of vessel with high sides and puree until smooth and creamy. You may have to add some more olive oil to get the right consistency, which isn’t too thick, but also not too runny. Transfer to a jar and cover with more olive oil. It’ll keep for about a week in your fridge. Enjoy pumpkin.

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