Mushroom pasta

If you love mushrooms and pasta this recipe is for you.   We picked up some large closed cup mushrooms last week and decided to make a dry warm pasta dish for dinner a couple of nights back.   The dish is incredibly quick to prepare and tastes great.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Pasta of choice for 2 persons
  • 10-12 large closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • `1 Thai red chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • Large knob of butter
  • Handful of fresh parsley to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Cook the pasta with some salt and olive oil and keep aside (save some of the cooking liquor for later).   Heat a large pan with butter – saute the garlic and red chilli for a minute before adding in the shallots.   Cook over medium heat till the shallots turn translucent.   Sprinkle a teaspoon of the oregano, give it a good mix and then add the mushrooms.  Cook for ten minutes or till mushrooms begin to take on a bit of colour.  Adjust the seasoning and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.    Add the boiled pasta to the dish – if it sticks to the pan use some of the cooking liquor to loosen up the dish.   Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

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Walnut pesto

Both of us are not keen on pesto that comes in a jar as it tends to be too oily (although both our kids love it!) and we have finally hit upon a homemade version which hopefully is worthy of getting an Italian’s seal of approval.  We didn’t have any pine nuts or grated Parmesan cheese but we think walnuts and Pecorino Romano works just as well.   The addition of walnut oil accentuates the taste of the walnuts in the pesto.  We had it for lunch today with some penne and tricolore salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 small bunches of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful walnuts toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

A small bowl full – 6-8 heaped tablespoons

How do I make it?

Place the basil, garlic and walnut in a mixer or pestle and mortar and blend to a coarse paste.   Add the oils, cheese and adjust the seasoning.  Use it with your favourite pasta or as a spread on some grilled ciabata.

Gluten free pasta with tomato and basil sauce

Ever since Anna & I have switched off wheat and gluten (lifestyle choice) our consumption of pasta has plummeted.  It wasn’t until recently that we tried gluten free pasta (made from rice and maize flour) and we quite liked it.  Contrary to popular belief that gluten free means tasteless – you can dispel this myth – it’s a lot lighter than normal pasta and the texture is slightly different but once mixed with a good sauce it is delicious.  Last night I prepared a tomato and basil sauce pasta with a medley of vegetables and finally garnished with some fresh basil grown in my sister’s garden (never expected to  find fresh herbs in a garden in Dubai!!).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms gluten free pasta of your choice
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 1/2 each yellow and red pepper – washed, de-seeded and cubed
  • small onion peeled and sliced
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into pieces
  • 7-8 closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 7-8 broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  •  4 tbsp sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3-4

How do I make it?

Crush the garlic and red chili flakes in a pestle and mortar.  Boil and cook pasta with a little salt till done – strain and keep aside.

Heat big saucepan and add oil and garlic/ chili paste – fry for 30 seconds and then add onions and peppers.   Stir constantly for 5 minutes before adding remaining vegetables.  Cook for five minutes before sprinkling Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and salt.  Then add the tomato passata and cook for another 5 minutes – add some water if the sauce is too thick.  Once done adjust seasoning and add the pasta and give it a good mix.   Garnish with freshly chopped basil and serve hot.

Salad therapy – Italian nirvana

One of my key challenges on the trip away from home is my ability to stay true to the Paleo lifestyle.  Admittedly it has been tough and I have wavered and cheated a bit.  I enjoyed pulling together a mushroom and tomato sauce pasta accompanied with my all time favourite Italian salad – tricolore with a twist.  Traditionally tricolore is made with beef tomato and fresh mozzarella slices – I used cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls instead (I know cheese is not Paleo but then again my sister and family are not on the same journey are they!).   The pasta we had was gluten free (rice and maize flour) and every time I have it I feel it is lighter than traditional pasta – so even if you are not on a gluten free diet I urge you to give it a try – what’s the worst that could happen.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 10-12 mozzarella balls
  • 2 ripe avacados skinned and chopped into bite size cubes
  • Sprig of fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (buy some good salad oil tastes better)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4 as a side salad

How do I make it?

Place all ingredients in a salad bowl.  Sprinkle salt and pepper and the drizzle olive oil and lemon juice.   Mix together gently (don’t want guacamole) and serve.

Footnote:  

Anna and I are not Paleo purists and we make a conscious decision on the non Paleo foods we eat.  We are strict on gluten and wheat but fairly relaxed on other ingredients in moderation.  We have cut back on our rice consumption and as stated in previous blogs we do incorporate rice and maize flour in our diets once a week at best.