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Tag Archives: Spinach

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese

Is there something called ‘too many’ pasta recipes?

Well, not in our household. Pasta recipes are often like that almost one-pot meal that is so quick to put together which is what most of us are looking for on a daily basis. And the non-saucy ones make the perfect leftovers for the next day lunch boxes.

In fact, I make the heavy, sauce based pasta dishes only occasionally. I tend to make pesto a lot, several variations of it, depending on what the herb garden is producing in abundance. I also enjoy roasting tomatoes and bell peppers for a thick sauce which is used along with pasta and other veggies. I use cold cuts, sausages and prawns a lot too as these need much less time to cook when compared to other meats.

While I prefer most of my everyday pasta dishes to go easy on cheese, today’s dish intrigued me as I had never paired goat’s cheese with pasta before. I have had it plenty on a cheese board but never with pasta. And when I came across some delicious Yarra Valley goat’s cheese, I knew I just had to try this dish out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a fairly simple pasta dish with very few ingredients and hence the flavour depends on the quality of spinach and goat’s cheese used. I added some red chilli too, to add another dimension to the overall flavours.

The best type of pasta for a dish like this is the thin noodle like ones, usually referred to as spaghettini. Its light and the perfect shape and texture to absorb flavours especially when there is no sauce or too many ingredients vying for attention.

Let’s get on to the recipe then…and do share your feedback with me if you happen to try it out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gm dried spaghettini
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves; crushed and finely chopped
  4. 1-2 long red chilli (less heat variety; use less or omit depending on heat preferences)
  5. 150gm baby spinach leaves
  6. ¼ cup basil; torn
  7. 150gm goat’s cheese
  8. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions; drain (reserving ½ cup water) and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and chillies; sauté on low heat for a minute.
  3. Then add the spinach leaves and cook on medium heat till just wilted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with half of the reserved pasta water. Toss on high heat for about a minute.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in the basil and goat’s cheese
  6. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

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Penne with Kransky and Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

I know that I have written enough about the dull, dreary winter out here in Melbourne but I continue to write about it because I have turned into the laziest, slouchiest (if there is such a word) person in the world. Instead of embracing the beauty of the winter whites, all that I can think of and do is – sleep.

Oh! I can sleep – hours altogether without a worry in the world. I enjoy late nights and then sleep into the late mornings, sometimes afternoons. But the euphoria of the long, relaxing sleep does not last long. The mountain of household and professional chores gets to me and before long, I get grumpy and moody (vehemently making a mental resolution to follow better and disciplined sleeping habits). And to repeat it all again the next day. Sigh!

During the weekdays, I do not get to indulge in this erratic behavior and try to maintain a semblance of normality. But with the winter and school holidays setting in, I am back to my crazy schedule which leaves me hardly any time to cook elaborate meals or even get creative and experimentative in the kitchen.

And my go to dish for such days is pasta. There are a zillion recipes that you can come up for pasta and many of these require very few ingredients. Pasta is extremely forgiving and versatile, ready to take up any flavours that you infuse into it.

Today’s dish is penne with kransky and vine-ripened tomatoes; just as the name suggests, the main ingredients complimenting the pasta are the sweet and juicy vine-ripened tomatoes and the salty, earthy kransky. For those of you who do not know, kransky or Kranjska klobasa is a Slovenian sausage usually made from pork and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. This has a rich and meaty flavour and works really well with pasta.

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And before we head off to the recipe, let me tell you of a little perk-me-up that I received during the past week. I got a mail from the US chapter of the website, Sulekha.com saying that they would like to feature my blog on their website and also want to do a short interview for them. I was flabbergasted but happy too for this attention that my blog has received. So I did the interview, a very short one, and if interested, you can read it here.

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Recipe Courtesy – Woman’s Day

Ingredients:

• 500g penne
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 red capsicum – deseeded and sliced
• 1 onion – sliced
• 2 garlic cloves – crushed
• 1 red chilli – sliced finely
• 4 kransky (or other continental sausage) – thickly sliced
• Vine-ripened tomatoes – 4
• 50g baby spinach leaves
• 90g feta – crumbled
• Salt – to season
• Black pepper – to season

Method:

1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes.
2. In the meantime, heat oil in a large pan on medium. Sauté capsicum, onion, garlic and chilli for 4-5 minutes until softened.
3. Add sausage and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir spinach through until it starts to wilt.
4. The pasta would have cooked by now, drain and add to the tomato-sausage mixture.
5. Toss well to combine; season with salt and pepper after tasting. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese.
6. Serve hot.

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And if you are a pasta lover, then check out some of these awesome recipes.

Braised Chicken with Baby Spinach and Pine Nuts

All those who have been following this season of Masterchef Australia would know that the ‘Marco Pierre White’ week has just ended. Wow! What an experience it was watching the man himself.

Marco is a legend in the culinary world; often referred to as the Godfather of Modern Cuisine. But it was his wisdom, humility and greatness of character that touched me the most. There were many remarkable and wise one-liners or rather life-lessons that he gave the contestants during the entire week, some of which are truly inspiring and also that I have adopted or want to practice in my own personal life.

‘Never hide your tears’ – One of the most important lessons of life that I have picked up in my journey so far. All through my childhood, teens and early 20s, I tried excessively to hide my true feelings and put on a brave front for others’ sake. Even when I was down in the dump, I put on a brave smile and acted as if I am perfectly fine. There are many who called it ‘strength of character’ but I do not believe so. Today, much wiser, I would say it is better to let your family, friends and the larger world know your feelings. You don’t have to be a burden but neither do you have to be perfect. Just be human and let the tears show when it truly flows…

‘When you are down on the ground, stay there as long as you need but never let anyone else pick you up. Get up yourself!’ – If someone had told me this line 5 years back, I would have scoffed and made an excuse saying, it is easy to talk. But today, I totally stand by it. You become stronger when you get up yourself and then you won’t fall back to the ground, at least not for the same reason.

‘Success comes from arrogance but greatness comes from humility’ – And the line that sums it all. Humility and humbleness – the two traits that makes a person truly great. It is not an easy task, one that I struggle by. But also one that I try to practice every single day because at the end of my time here, I want to be remembered as a good person and not as a successful person.

Well, time to get back to today’s dish – braised chicken with spinach and pine nuts. Classic Meditteranean flavours!

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What I loved most about this dish was the lightness and simplicity. It is an extremely easy dish to prepare and perfect for this season. The chicken pieces are juicy and succulent, the spinach not just adds flavour but increases the health quotient too, the pine nuts a bit of crunch texture and nutty flavour and finally the broth – indulgent, warm, comforting and packed with flavour.

Recipe Courtesy – Adapted from the Coles food magazine

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Ingredients:

1. 1 whole chicken – cut into 10 pieces
2. Olive oil – 2-3 tbsp
3. Red/brown onion – 1, finely sliced
4. Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed
5. Dried chilli flakes – 1 tbsp (I like the heat! But do adjust according to your preference)
6. Ripe red tomatoes – 2, diced
7. Chicken stock – 1 cup (I used homemade but you can use any type)
8. Saffron threads – a pinch
9. Cinnamon – 1 stick
10. Lemon peel – 1 tbsp
11. Baby spinach leaves – 100 gm
12. Pine nuts – 2-3 tbsp
13. Salt – to season

Method:

• Cut the chicken into pieces, wash and drain well.
• Heat oil in a pan and brown the chicken pieces on high heat in batches; keep aside.
• If necessary, add more oil and add the sliced onions to the same pan. Saute till golden brown.
• Add garlic, chilli flakes and stir through for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and cook till soft and pulpy.
• Add the stock, saffron, cinnamon and lemon peel; then add the chicken pieces and bring to boil. Season with salt if necessary.
• Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or till the chicken pieces are soft and tender.
• Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and keep aside. (Take care to keep on low heat as these burn easily).
• Once the chicken is done, add the washed spinach leaves and stir through for another one minute and take off heat.
• Check seasoning and garnish with toasted pine nuts.
• Tuck in!

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Feta, Artichoke and Walnut Salad

This salad recipe is a first for me in many aspects – it is the first time I am using walnuts in a salad and also the first time I tasted artichokes. And the latter made this salad quite a technical one for me as I decided to use fresh artichokes and learn how to peel off the layers and get to the heart instead of opting for canned ones. But it was worth the effort as this salad turned out to be one of the best I have eaten in a long time.

I loved the fact that the salad did not incorporate the all too familiar veggies like cucumber, tomato, onion etc. Instead it was a delectable mix of unusual ingredients and flavours. The saltiness of the feta and the olives juxtaposing with the nutty, earthy and smoky flavours all tied down perfectly by a simple olive oil-honey dressing.

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Recipe Courtesy – Vegetarian Cooking by New Holland Publishers

Ingredients:

1. Red capsicum/bell pepper – 1, quartered and seeded
2. Walnuts – 100 gm
3. Baby spinach – 200 gm
4. Greek feta – 200 gm, cubed
5. Artichoke hearts – 300 gm, quartered
6. Black olives – ½ cup, pitted
7. Olive oil – 1 tbsp
8. For dressing:
• Extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup
• Lemon juice – ¼ cup
• Honey – 2 tsp
• Oregano – 2 tsp
• Black pepper – freshly ground, to season
• Himalayan pink salt – to season (any type of salt can be used)

Method:

• Preheat grill. Grill the capsicum pieces till the outer skin starts to turn black. I did not char the skin completely since I wanted a little bit of bite to the pepper but if you like it soft, grill till the outer skin turns completely black. Cool slightly and peel skin when still warm. Cut into long strips and keep aside.
• In a frying pan, heat olive oil, add the walnuts and cook for a minute or two. Keep aside.
• In a small jar, combine all the ingredients under dressing and mix well.
• In a large salad bowl, combine the baby spinach, artichoke hearts, feta, olives, walnuts and bell pepper.
• Pour the dressing just before serving.

Note – If you do not know how to get artichoke hearts, there are plenty of YouTube videos demonstrating the same. Or you could just make your job easier and buy canned ones.

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