Tag Archives: Italian

Summer spaghetti: Broad beans, spinach and mint

12 Jul

Man Woman will not dwell on the presence or absence of the English summer. It does not, in fact, weigh on our minds at all. No, rather it will often be midday before Man or Woman might even remark, ‘Oh look, dear, it happens to be a miserable shit of a day once again. Ever so glad we migrated.’

For us, as non-natives, part of the goodness of eating seasonally is actually discovering what is in fact seasonal. Broad beans, we understand, are summery even if the skies under which they grow are bleak and seemingly devoid of any sunlight. Moving on, this recipe was the first time we used them and it is pretty good. All can be made while the pasta is boiling and happily exists without the cheese if you want to go dairy-free.

A note here, this recipe quantaties are totally subjective. This amount will get you a nice balance of pasta to veg, but tweak to your tastes.

Broad bean, spinach, mint & hazelnut spaghetti

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 C fresh broad beans (or peas, edame – any fresh green pod-borne things etc)
  • 1 C spinach, chopped
  • 6 or so leaves of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 TBSP hazelnuts (pistachio, pine nuts or even walnuts could also work well)
  • 100g soft goats cheese or feta (optional)
  • Butter/olive oil for frying shallots

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and chuck the spaghetti in. (Really do use wholewheat – it so much tastier).

In a small pan, heat a little butter or olive oil and throw in the shallots and nuts. After a minute or two, add the broadbeans and keep stirring as the spaghetti cooks.

Once cooked, drain the spaghetti, return the spaghetti to the large pot and throw in chopped spinach. Let it wilt a little in the still-hot pot and then mix in the beans, shallots and nuts.

Throw in mint and then serve. Top with goats cheese if you like, and either way drizzle with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Estimated cost: £2.20 without cheese, £4 with cheese

Musical accompaniment: Something classical. We really should start paying more attention to this.


Fluffy gnocchi with home-made pesto and spinach

11 Apr

There seems to be this universal level of panic when one separates eggs. The discarded yolks, the abandoned whites – what to do? What to do?

For no reason other than we had this dilemma, we decided to chuck in a couple of extra egg whites into our latest attempt at gnocchi. This made for a lovely soft, pillowy gnocchi. A word of warning, leaving the excess gnocchi in the fridge does appear to involve that gnocchi turning blue – but after a significant amount of sniffing, we ate it and remain upright and healthy to this day.

Fluffy gnocchi (serves 4)

  • 500g potato (desiree)
  • 250g white flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 – 3 TBSP home-made pesto
  • handful of baby spinach

Boil then mash potatoes. Add flour.

Whisk egg whites until thickened and airy, fold in the whole egg and then add to the potato-flour mixture.

Roll teaspoon sized balls of the ensuing dough and then dust in semolina or fine corn flour.

Throw into boiling water for a few minutes. Test if cooked and then drain. Toss through pesto and spinach. Voila!

Estimated cost (including home-made pesto): £3.50

Musical accompaniment: Kings of Convenience

Pesto cannelli beans stuffed in baked beef tomato

1 Apr

I’ve got to be honest. Just having the word ‘beef’ in a recipe on this blog feels a little bit uncomfortable. It brings up all strange feelings. And really, look at the word – it is strange.

God, you can be too vegetarian, can’t you?

This meal was inspired after Man’s stroke of home-made pesto genius and the shock that pesto really doesn’t miss parmesan at all. Man Woman felt so betrayed by the entire Italian community – the needless cheese! Why?

Pesto canneli beans stuffed in baked beef tomato

  • 2 large beef tomatoes (or the largest, firmest tomatoes you can get)
  • 1 can cannelli beans (or other soft white bean)
  • 2 – 3 TBSP home-made pesto (you can cheat with store-bought if you like. We’re not looking)
  • 1 spring onion

Pre-heat oven to about 200C.

Now this is a little tricky. Cut out the centre of the tomatoes, leaving the outside in tact and ideally with around 1/2 inch of flesh all around. (Save the tomatoes for pasta sauce or something later). Try in particular to remove the more watery, seedy parts.

Bake for about 30 minutes. The tomatoes at this point will have released a bit of water. It’s best to transfer them into individual serving dishes that you can bake them a bit further – otherwise drain the train from it’s water and perhaps sit the tomatoes on a small bed of rice, to absorb the excess liquid that will inevitably be released.

While the tomatoes are baking, mix the cannelli beans with the pesto and chopped spring onion.

After the tomatoes have cooked for their 30 minutes, remove and fill with the bean mixture (putting them in their own serving trays or on rice). Return to the oven and cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes or until the beans are warmed through.

This is enough on its own, but you could always serve with some rice or salad on the side.

Estimated cost: £4.60

Musical accompaniment: Nina Simone

Tomatoes three ways pizza

3 Mar

When next you think about what a pain in the arse making your own pizza might conceivably be when wandering the ready-meal aisle of your local supermarket, just think about this recipe.

Not only is it cheaper than ready-made – cheaper, even, than your Tesco brands – but it is a gazillion times tastier than ready-made – gazillion, yes, times better than even supposed “posh” supermarket brands. Woman would know. In a moment of what must have been other-worldy possession she bought a ready-made pizza from her local, and realised that what she might have tolerated drunk and hungry at 2am, could not be tolerated while sobre – or in posession of self respect.

This is serious business.

  • Pizza dough base (as here, but with an extra 1/2 tsp of yeast)
  • 1/4 C nicoise olives
  • 2 roma tomatoes, cut into 1cm thick slices
  • 1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes
  • 100g white cheese

Tomato sauce

  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 50ml water
  • sun-dried tomatoes

Make pizza dough as in the linked recipe. You can just let it prove for about an hour, but this time Man Woman had made up the dough the night before we ate the pizza, putting it in the fridge overnight and then taking it out before going to work in the morning. This made for a really tasty and more thick & chewy pizza base.

Make sauce by basically chucking all ingredients in, and cook down the sauce for about 20 minutes.

Assemble pizza and throw in the oven at 200C for about 12 minutes.

Estimated cost: £3.50

Musical accompaniment: BBC World News

Decadence in the evening: Truffle mushroom pasta

16 Feb

Having been emboldened to make more use of our truffle oil following our truffle scrambled eggs life lesson, and inspired to recreate an amazing dish at 500 in Archway, Man Woman gave this a shot. It took ten minutes.

I’m not lying. It was good.

Truffle mushroom pasta

  • Fresh egg pasta for 2
  • 150g oyster mushroom
  • 150g chestnut mushroom (or any mix of nice mushrooms)
  • 1 small shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP truffle oil
  • Parmesan grated

Cook onion and butter in 1 TBSP of butter. Once largely cooked, add the extra butter.

Meanwhile cook pasta. Once cooked, drain and add to the mushroom mix.

In bowls, drizzle truffle oil and grate parmesan over the pasta.

Estimated cost: £3.50

Musical accompaniment: Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue Vol. 1

Winter salad: Mustard roasted butternut squash & orzo

7 Feb

Orzo is such a fun pasta shape – almost like alphabet pasta shapes for adults. It doesn’t often  get a showing on Man Woman’s dinner table, but I think we might have turned a corner.

Mustard-roasted butternut squash & orzo salad

  • Two lady handfuls of chopped butternut squash
  • 1tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp agave nectar, maple syrup or honey
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 C orzo pasta
  • handful or two rocket

Heat oven to about 200C.

Mix chopped butternut squash, spices and agave and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Throw in the roma tomatoes into the baking tray and cook for another 10  minutes.

Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta.

Mix together with the rocket and serve hot or cold.

Estimated cost: £2.10

Musical accompaniment: Beirut, the Gulag Orchestra

Lebanese calzone – Lentils, parsley and feta folded pizza

6 Dec

Man Woman likes to debate what our favourite cuisine may be (for, indeed, the independence of our individual tastes has crumbled over the last few years, the only difference now being Man’s persistent love of a veggie fry-up breakfast). This debate is moot. The Turks. The Italians. The Viets.  We love them each in their own special way.

This dish here would be called ‘fusion’ if it wasn’t so rustic and the word ‘fusion’ wasn’t so simultaneously pretentious and out-dated. It combines my memories of massive dinners at Lebanese friends’ houses back in Sydney, when the delicious spinach and onion triangles would get inhaled by any who dared tread near. Saving ourselves the hassle that so many Lebanese ladies throughout the centuries have endured of making endless tidy little parcels, we decided we’ll big it up. Go calzone size and also throw a bit more beefiness in it to make it a substantial meal. Substantial it was. It was also darn tasty. How can the cross-breeding of two Mediterranean dishes ever go wrong?

What I love particularly about Lebanese cuisine is the appreciation for parsley as a flavour. Don’t knock it and don’t you dare scrimp on the parsley outlined below. This herb is not to be mistaken for a garnish.

Lentil, feta and parsley stuffing (serves 6)

  • 2.5 C cooked lentils
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 150g ricotta
  • 200g feta
  • 1.5 C chopped parsley
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3 TBSP raisins
  • 1 TBSP dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 TBSP lemon juice (to taste)
  • ground black pepper
  • salt
  • toasted pine nuts (if desired)

Calzone dough recipe

Soak and cook beans (probably about 1 cup of dried lentils will make 2.5 cups of cooked). Prepare pizza dough.

In a small pot, cook diced onions until softened. Add garlic, cook for another two minutes, then add lentils, stir through for a minute and add all three kinds of tomato (paste, dried and tinned).

Add herbs and spices and cook over a medium-high heat until there isn’t much liquid left. Take off the heat and let cool slightly. Mix in ricotta, feta and chopped parsley. Let cool.

Take a handful of the prepared pizza dough, and spread out into a 20cm circle. On one half of the circle, lay out a few good wooden spoonfuls of the lentil-feta mix. Fold the clear half over the half with the mix on it and seal shut.

Cook in an oven at 200C for about 25 – 30 minutes or until calzone dough is hard.

Estimated cost: £4.50

Musical accompaniment: Freelance Whales

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