Trofie al pesto
Felix and I went to the Cinque Terre in January, and we couldn’t get enough of this. Ate it every day, and brought back loads of trofie only to find that we could buy it here. Do yourself a favour and make this tonight.
- 4-5 small potatoes (peeled and cut into small chunks)
- 1 box of trofie pasta (or any other pasta if you can’t find it)
- 200 grams green beans (trimmed and cut in thirds)
- 100 grams fresh basil leaves
- 100 grams grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- 100 ml regular olive oil
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- juice from half a lemon
- About a teaspoon of salt (but taste as you go along to be sure your parmesan doesn’t make it too salty)
- 30 grams or a small handful of pine nuts
- Bring a large pot to boil, and put in the potato chunks.
- Put the potato chunks into a large saucepan together with plenty of salt.
- Cook the potatoes until tender, about 10-15 minutes, then add the pasta and the green beans. Check the packet cooking instructions.
- While this is cooking, blitz the ingredients for the pesto with a hand blender.
- Before you drain the saucepan, remove and reserve about ½ cup of the cooking liquid in case you need it to loosen up the pasta (I didn’t use it but I always like to know I have it just in case!)
- Pour the drained potatoes, beans and pasta back into the dry pan, and add the pesto.
- Give it a good stir and if needed add a bit of cooking water. Garnish with a bit of basil and serve immediately.
Korean Vermicelli with Vegetables (Japchae)
This is so healthy and satisfying. The noodles are chewy sweet potato noodles, which you can find at asian stores. Normally this should be made with beef or tofu, but I think the version with just vegetables is equally delicious, and a bit easier. The concept is that you cook each ingredient separately so that each one maintains its taste and the sum of the parts is positively delicious!
My Korean cooking inspiration is Maangchi, who has wonderful videos and writes great recipes, go check her out!!
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds (toasted)
- 1 large egg
- 3 large handfuls spinach, washed and drained
- Half a bag of dangmyeon (Korean sweet potato starch noodles)
- 3 green onions, cut into 2 inch long pieces
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
- A large handful of white or brown mushrooms, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- Salt & pepper
- Vegetable oil (peanut oil)
- First, soak your noodles in cold water.
- To prepare the spinach, put a pot of water on to boil.
- In the meantime, make the egg: beat an egg with a pinch of salt. Add vegetable oil to the pan, and use a paper towel to wipe off any excess- you want only a thin layer. Pour the egg into the pan and tilt it so that it spreads out as evenly as possible. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute, then carefully use your fingers to flip it over and let it sit on the pan for 1 more minute. Let it cool and slice it into thin strips.
- The water for the spinach should be boiling by now. Add the spinach and let cook for 1 minute, then take it out with a slotted spoon or strainer. Rinse the spinach in cold water to stop it from cooking. Squeeze it with your hands (or ideally cheesecloth) to remove any excess water. Cut it a few times and put it into a large bowl. Mix with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
- Put another pot of water on to cook the noodles.
- As you wait for it to boil, chop all your veggies as outlined above.
- Once ready, heat your skillet up over medium high heat, and add a glug of vegetable oil.
- Stir-fry the onion and scallion with a pinch of salt for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl with the spinach.
- Start again with a glug of oil in the pan, and cook the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes and transfer to the large bowl.
- When your noodle water is boiling, cook your noodles as per package instructions (8 minutes or until chewy but cooked). Remove from the water, strain with water, and cut them a few times with scissors. Put the noodles into the bowl, add in 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Mix with a spoon or your hands.
- Heat up the skillet with oil again and cook the carrots for a few minutes before adding in the red pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes and then transfer to the noodle bowl.
- Now you have all of your ingredients cooked separately and in the bow. Add 1 minced garlic clove (if you can handle it raw!), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to the mixing bowl full of ingredients.
- Mix all together by hand.
- Top with the sliced egg and sesame seeds and serve.
Hearty Mushroom & Spinach Orzotto
This is greek pasta cooked in a risotto style- constantly stirred adding bits of broth. The trick to getting it extra mushroomy is to blend dried mushrooms with their soaking liquid and alternative this with broth.
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine or sherry
- 200 grams orzo (greek pasta)
- 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
- 2 large handfuls of white, brown or mixed mushrooms
- 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 15g dried mushrooms (I used chanterelles, porcini would also be delicious)
- 3 large handfuls of spinach, washed and chopped
- Salt & pepper
- Grated parmesan, for topping
- First, put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit.
- Chop the garlic and the onions, and sauté it in olive oil, salt and pepper for about 3 minutes. Once soft, add the orzo and toss it to ensure it’s coated in the olive oil. Let it toast a bit for a few minutes, then add the dried herbs.
- Toss again, then add the chopped mushrooms, and the sherry. Coat all of the pasta and let the sherry bubble away until it starts to evaporate.
- Add in a cup of broth at a time, and keep stirring (risotto style).
- In parallel, blend the dried mushrooms with their liquid in a blender, and start to alternate this mixture with the broth. Taste the pasta as you go along to test for doneness, and adjust the salt and pepper as you go.
- Once done, add in the spinach, stir until wilted, and pull off the heat. Top with grated parmesan and serve hot!
Summer Green Orzo Salad
This is perfect for a hot summer day. It’s very flexible (feel free to experiment with different ingredient mixes), but I recommend making this original one first.
If you are taking it to a picnic, just dress it right before you get to the picnic, it shouldn’t be sitting around too long in advance.
- 1 cup dried orzo
- 1/2 a medium head of broccoli or broccolini, cut into small pieces
- small handful of cilantro, chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic, pressed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- a small handful of sprouts
- 1/3 cup almonds, toasted
- 1/2 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium avocado, sliced into small pieces
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and boil the orzo per package instructions. Avoid over-boiling, you want your orzo to be cooked through, but maintain structure. About 30 seconds before the orzo is finished cooking stir the broccoli into the orzo pot. Cook for the final 30 seconds, drain and run under a bit of cold water. Just long enough to stop the cooking.
- In the meantime, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper into the dressing. Set aside.
- When you are ready to serve the salad toss the orzo, broccoli, and cilantro with about half the dressing. Add more dressing if needed, and toss well. Now add the sprouts, almonds, cucumber, avocado, and feta. Gently toss a couple of times to distribute those ingredients throughout the salad and serve.
Peanut Rice Noodles with Cucumber & Herbs
This was so fresh and light! We loved it. You see it here topped with salmon, Felix made the salmon, and I made the noodles- great teamwork. The recipe for the salmon is elsewhere (in Felix’s head), but as you can see in the photo it was perfectly cooked.
If you are going to make the noodles in advance (for lunch the next day for example), I’d recommend keeping the dressing, the noodles, and the toppings separate until you are ready to eat, combining just when you are ready to sit down to keep everything fresh. If you do that you’ll need to coat the noodles with sesame oil in the meantime to prevent them from sticking.
- A large handful of dried rice noodles (about half a package)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus a splash to loosen noodles
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon chunky or smooth peanut butter (i used chunky)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (from 1 medium-large clove)
- 1/2 cucumber, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- A handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as mint and cilantro, for garnish
- Cook noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. Drizzle with a tiny splash of toasted sesame oil to keep them from sticking until dressed.
- Meanwhile, whisk sesame paste and peanut butter in the bottom of a small bowl, then whisk in soy sauce, rice vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, sugar, and ginger to taste until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste.
- Toss sauce with cold noodles. Add in the cucumbers, peanuts, and the herbs. Stir and serve.
Lake Como Soup
This is one of my ‘go-to’ meals for a dinner party. It takes about an hour to cook, but it’s relatively low maintenance, and it’s surprising how much flavor there can be with so few ingredients. The reason is that the beans are first cooked a bit directly in red wine, so that gives the dish this earthy delicious flavor.
A word to the wise: do not oversalt, and do not use a broth which is too salty. I have made this many times, and on my last rendition I was heavy handed on the salt- regrets! Taste as you go, and add little by little.
I should mention as well, that this is less of a soup, and more of a risotto type texture, which is exactly how I like it.
The cookbook that this comes from is absolutely delicious, it was a gift from my mother and there are so many simple yet flavor-packed recipes for Italian soups inside, it’s difficult to choose.
- 1 cup dried borlotti beans
- A large glug of olive oil
- ¼ cup diced lardons (thick cut bacon)
- 2 medium onions, cut into ½ inch dice
- 1 cup Italian red wine such as Chianti
- 8 cups broth (your choice)
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- 6-8 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Pick over the beans, and soak them overnight in water. Drain and set aside.
- When you are ready to cook, heat the oil and lardons in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until softened, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beans and the red wine. Cook, uncovered, until most of the wine evaporates, about 7 minutes.
- Add the broth, and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a slow but steady simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
- About 10 minutes before the beans are done, stir in the orzo. Taste and season carefully with salt & pepper (remembering that you will garnish with Parmesan which is also salty).
- To serve, ladle the ‘soup’ into warmed bowls. Top with a tablespoon of grated cheese, and a drizzle of high quality olive oil.
Steak with Soba, Zucchini & Edamame
The steak here is not the main act. It’s delicious, but the whole thing works very well without it.
This is equally good cold as it is just after cooking it, so it’s an easy thing to serve when you have people over because it’s not very fussy.
There are quite a few adaptations you could make if you wanted, I can easily picture chicken or tofu instead of steak.
- 1 8oz bag of soba noodles
- A large spoonful of toasted sesame oil
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup mirin
- 1 large spoonful of sugar
- 6 thick slices of fresh ginger, peeled)
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large or two small steaks
- 2 small zucchini, cut into thick matchsticks (in half lengthwise, in long slices, and then in 2-inch chunks)
- 2 cups of edamame (frozen or fresh)
- 4 spring onions, sliced thinly
- 2 large spoonfuls toasted sesame seeds
- 1 large bunch coriander, washed and chopped
- 6-12 hours before you want to cook, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, ginger, garlic, salt and 1 cup water in a small pan, and bring to the boil. Let cool, and marinate the steak(s) in this mixture until you are ready to eat.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a small frying pan.
- When you are ready to go, boil the water for the soba noodles, with plenty of salt. Cook the soba noodles for 4 minutes (or according to the instructions on your package), when done strain, rinse well, and toss with the sesame oil so that they don't stick.
- In a sizzlingly hot pan fry the steak(s) 3 minutes on each side, or as you like to eat your steak!
- When done, take the steak out and set it aside, pour the marinade into the pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling throw in the edamame and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes or so. You want them tender but not overcooked.
- In a large bowl mix the soba with the sesame seeds, spring onion, and coriander. When done, add the zucchini and edamame, leaving the marinade in the pan to boil for another few minutes, until it's a bit thicker.
- Toss the salad well, top with slices of steak, and once reduced drizzle with the sauce.
Toasted Orecchiette with Zucchini, Corn, and Crème Fraîche
It is really hard to toast pasta. It will stick to your pan. But it will also be super delicious, and needing to soak the pan for a day or two is totally worth it.
This is a really summery pasta, mostly because of the corn.
It should still however be served right out of the pan, because the creme fraiche will be creamiest mixed with the pasta cooking water and it’ll just be the perfect consistency. So it’s not going to be your go to picnic dish.
- 12 ounces orecchiette
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 to 5 small zucchini, small diced
- 2 ears of corn, shucked, kernels removed
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup crème fraiche
- 1/2 cup basil, finely sliced
- Freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Lemon for serving, optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
- Cook pasta al dente, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, drain pasta, transfer it to a large bowl, and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. When it shimmers, add the zucchini, corn, and garlic. Immediately reduce the heat to medium, season lightly with salt, and cook for 2 minutes undisturbed. Stir, and cook for one minute more, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan. When it shimmers, add the pasta and let it cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Stir, and let it cook for another minute. The edges should be starting to brown. Repeat this process for 2 more minutes, or until the pasta is browned to your liking, then transfer it to the bowl with the vegetables.
- Add the reserved pasta cooking liquid and the crème fraiche to the sauté pan and stir until emulsified, then transfer to the bowl of pasta. Add the basil, and toss everything together. Taste. Season with pepper to taste and more salt if necessary.
- Serve pasta with a squeeze of lemon.
Ottolenghi Soba Noodles with Aubergine & Mango
This recipe is just magic. Think- picnics. It’s fresh and juicy from the mango, but salty and savory from the aubergine. Ottolenghi is such a genius.
Soba noodles are also way healthier than regular noodles.
Win win win.
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml brown rice vinegar
- scant 1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 40 g fine-grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 fresh red chile, minced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- grated zest and juice of one lime
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml sunflower oil or olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant/aubergine 3/4 lb / 12 oz, cut into 1/2-inch / 1cm chunks
- 8 ounces / 225g dried soba noodles
- 1 large ripe mango, cut into small chunks
- 1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
- a handful of basil leaves, slivered
- a handful of fresh cilantro / coriander, chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- In the meantime, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for up to 1 minute, or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the garlic, red pepper flakes or chile, and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large skillet and shallow fry the eggplant/aubergine in a few batches (you want it to cook in a single layer), until deeply golden. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
- Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, per package instructions, or until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry in the colander or on a tea towel. If you're not using the noodles soon, toss with a tiny splash of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
- In a large mixing bowl toss the noodles the dressing, mango, aubergine, onions, and most of the herbs.
- Dig in!!
Pasta with Cauliflower, Garlic, and Oil (Pasta col Sugo di Cavolfiore)
- 1 Head of cauliflower
- ½ Cup/120 ml of olive oil
- 8 Garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 Anchovy fillets, chopped
- ¼ Teaspoon chopped hot red pepper
- 1 Bag penne or similar pasta (I used tubettone)
- 2 Big spoonfuls chopped parsley
- Clean the cauliflower, and chop it into large chunks (try to cut all similar sizes so that they cook at the same time).
- Bring a large amount of water to boil in a large pan, and add the cauliflower. Cook until tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. Test with a fork to be sure it’s tender before taking out.
- Get it out of the water with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
- In a separate frying pan, put the oil, garlic, and anchovies over medium heat. Sautee until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Stir from time to time with a spoon. Add the boiled cauliflower, and break it up quickly, crumbling it into pieces no bigger than a peanut. Turn it thoroughly in the oil, mashing part of it to a pulp.
- Add the hot pepper and a fair amount of salt. Turn off the heat, cook for a few minutes more, and turn off the heat.
- In the same water you cooked your cauliflower in, throw in the pasta with a fair amount of salt. cook until al dente, and then drain it (reserving a cup of cooking liquid just in case), and toss it together with the cauliflower mixture to mix thoroughly.
It’s a version of pasta aglio e olio, with a bit more substance and healthier due to the entire head of cauliflower.
You can add parmesan if you so desire, but I prefer without. If you can’t decide, try both- nothing to lose.
I absolutely hate anchovies, but you do need them in this recipe. You’ll need to invite over a friend/relative/loved one to deal with the anchovy portion so you don’t have to look at them.