Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

I could never follow a diet or a philosophy of eating if it does not give you the option, to at least every now and then, have a bowl full of pasta.

And I do mean pasta.

I do not mean noodles, in all of their variety – although I am partial to mung bean noodles. I do not mean spiralised vegetables masquerading as pasta; they have their place, but let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? They are vegetables, not pasta.

Maybe it’s my metabolism; I can eat a bowl of pasta for dinner and not get hungry again soon after. Maybe it’s the comfort that I seem to associate so strongly to pasta. For me, pasta is my ‘chicken soup’, a bowl full of pasta makes everything better, even for a little while.

Cacio e Pepe

 

This is not a new recipe, but it’s been all over the internet lately, which reminded me of just how yummy, how cheesy and how soothing to the soul this pasta dish is.

I wanted something green to cut through the cheese and provide some crunch and a contrasting lemon flavour, but be a purist if you like, and make this with normal spaghetti and omit the greens. Either way, you will thank yourself for both making and consuming this pasta dish. Unless of course you don’t like pepper…

Come and have a bowlful at this week’s Fiesta Friday with Angie, Lindy @ Love in the Kitchen and Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.

 

Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 375g wholegrain spaghetti
  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • sea salt
  • ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (scant) tablespoon ground black pepper (plus a little more to finish)
  • 1 ½ cups finely grated pecorino (plus a little more to finish)

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water as per the packet directions until al dente, making sure to save ½ cup of the cooking water.
  2. In the mean time, preheat the oven grill (or broiler or bbq).
  3. Prep the broccolin and asparagus by trimming all woody and stringy parts. Spread them out evenly on a baking paper-covered sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and season with sea salt.
  4. Grill for to 5 to 7 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice and keep warm.
  5. While the spaghetti and greens are cooking, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the black pepper. Set aside for 3 to 5 minutes, swirling it a few times to allow the pepper to infuse into the butter.
  6. Return the butter to a medium-low heat and add in the reserved cooking water. Bring to a simmer and then add the spaghetti and the pecorino, using tongs to toss the mixture until the cheese melts into the liquid and coats the spaghetti evenly.
  7. Divide the spaghetti amongst four warmed bowls, top with broccolini and asparagus, sprinkle with extra pecorino and pepper, and serve immediately with a crisp, green salad.

 

 

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

It’s not the taste of spaghetti and meatballs that I miss, it’s more the concept of the dish, the comfort and the familiarity that it offers on a cold night.

I honestly cannot remember ever having spaghetti and meatballs growing up, and if I did, it would have been a heavily herbed Mediterranean version. I vaguely remember some chicken (?) meatballs in soup…

But it’s a kind of dish that you instinctively recognise. Meatballs are meatballs, right?

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

Put your pitchforks down, I know that every carnivore out there has their own meatball or patty or rissole recipe that they guard fiercely. The type of mince, the add-ins, the herbs and spices, breading, no breading, panko, eggs, no eggs… All the little differences lead to very different meatballs in both taste and texture.

And it’s the same with veggie balls; there may be more variety in the base ingredients and flavourings that can be used, but all veggie balls are not created equal.

That’s why I like The Meatball Shop’s lentil-based veggie ball recipe – you can drench them in sauce and they will still hold their shape, making them perfect for spaghetti and veggie balls, or for vegetarian polpettini rolls.

Veggie balls usually require more ingredients and time to prepare, but they really are worth the effort.

I’m sharing this yummy pasta dish with the Fiesta Friday #69, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and co-hosted this week by Juju @cookingwithauntjuju and Amanda @The Chunky Chef, so come say hi and check out all the great recipes.

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

  • Servings: makes 2 dozen veggie balls and serves 6
  • Print

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

Ingredients for the Veggie Balls

  • 2 cups puy lentils
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 220g swiss brown mushrooms (wiped clean and finely chopped)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • ¼ cup walnuts (finely chopped)

Ingredients for the Spaghetti and Sauce

  • 500g thin spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 350g jar of tomato passata
  • 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Combine the lentils and 6 cups of water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils if needed and set aside to cool.
  2. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
  3. Add the eggs, parmesan, panko, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  5. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
  6. Roll the veggie mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs, making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly between your hands. Place the balls evenly in the prepared baking dish, allowing a bit of space between the balls.
  7. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the veggie balls are firm and cooked through. Allow the veggie balls to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per the packet directions. Drain and keep warm.
  9. To make the sauce, add the oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and chilli (if using) to a large, heavy-based frying pan and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the garlic and herbs are fragrant.
  10. Add the passata and crushed tomatoes. Stir through the balsamic vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  11. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add the veggie balls. Spoon sauce over the top and cook for about 3 minutes or until the sauce is hot.
  12. To serve, divide the pasta among six bowls, spoon over some sauce, add the veggie balls and sprinkle with parmesan. Serve with a crisp, green salad.

Recipe adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow with Lauren Deen.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Spaghetti – Or Faux Spaghetti alla Carbonara

It’s been a long, long, LONG week.

But two things have made this seemingly never-ending week bearable: Co-hosting Fiesta Friday #65 and #putaneggonit.

Co-hosting Fiesta Friday with Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook was great fun, and we should all send lots of yummy care packages full of food over to Angie @The Novice Gardener for continuing to create a great space for us all to share, laugh and eat.

And speaking of laughing, I love the putaneggonit hashtag on Instagram, such great recipes, funny comments and some very silly people who should maybe consider keeping their opinions to themselves once in a while… you’ve got to love social media… If you don’t like it, unsubscribe.

But the hashtag did remind me to post this recipe. It’s a mashup of an alfredo and carbonara sauce. With mushrooms. And a bit of thyme.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Pasta

I love spaghetti alla carbonara, but I only ever eat it at restaurants (without the bacon, obviously). I’ve never, and probably will never actually make it at home as I would ruin it. I would ruin any dish that has uncooked egg in it.

Warmed is not cooked, people.

But ordering carbonara at a restaurant means that it appears in front of me all twirled up high and fancy looking, and I don’t have to mess around with raw eggs and hope there was enough residual heat to cook them… (Commercial kitchens are hotter, okay? Let’s just leave it at that!)

So, here’s the best of both worlds… a lovely, creamy alfredo sauce with a poached (cooked) egg on top that when pierced, adds another layer to the sauce.

For me, it’s the best of both worlds.

I’m sharing this yummy pasta dish with Fiesta Friday #66, which is this week hosted by Anna @Anna International, so don’t forget to come along and say hi to everyone.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Spaghetti

Mushroom and Poached Egg Pasta

Ingredients

  • 500g spaghetti
  • 30g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or one teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 200g swiss brown mushrooms (thickly sliced)
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 50g to 100g parmesan cheese (to taste, finely grated)
  • Splash of vinegar
  • 4 eggs

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water as per the packet instructions. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Season with salt.
  4. Stir in the thickened cream, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the alfredo sauce and toss gently until combined. Divide amongst four bowls and keep warm.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a large sauté pan or shallow pot full of water to a light simmer over medium heat and add the splash of vinegar.
  8. Crack each egg into a separate coffee cup and set aside.
  9. Once the water is simmering, gently pour each egg into its own section of the pot in one fluid motion, dropping the egg yolk in as close to the water as possible without burning yourself.
  10. Cook the eggs for two and half minutes or until they are softly poached – you want them to be cooked but runny when you serve them.
  11. Gently drain each poached egg on some kitchen paper, add one to the top of each bowl of spaghetti and serve immediately.

Tuna, Ricotta and Pea Pasta – Pasta is my Lifelong Friend!

So I’m a bit of a brat on Sundays… Sundays are tainted and evil… Especially Sunday evenings when the weekend is coming to a close and the work week is looming. By default, Sunday’s have become pasta for dinner days… Pasta dishes are quick and easy to make and there’s usually leftovers to take to work the next day, but most importantly, pasta is yummy and tasty and awesome!

Now most people have their own version of a tuna pasta, but since this particular version tends to get gobbled down by everyone faster than any other, I decided to share this particular pasta recipe first.

Tuna, Ricotta and Pea Pasta

Image

Serves 4

Ingredients 

  • 500g Spaghetti
  • 250g Fresh Ricotta
  • 185g Chilli Tuna (oil reserved)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Oil (or ½ Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice + 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Method

  1. Cook pasta as per package directions or as per your liking.
  2. Meanwhile, slightly mash the ricotta in a small bowl and add the lemon oil. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Reserve the oil from the chilli tuna and gently flake the tuna with a fork.
  4. Add the frozen peas to the cooking pasta approximately two minutes before the pasta is ready. Drain and return to the saucepan.
  5. Drizzle the pasta and peas with the reserved chilli tuna oil and toss to coat the pasta. (This will add additional heat and stop the pasta from clumping together as this is a ‘dry’ sauce.)
  6. Add the ricotta and the flaked tuna. Toss the pasta to mix.
  7. Serve with a salad (my favourite salad with this pasta dish is a baby spinach, avocado and walnut salad).

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