Cauliflower and scallop pasta with hazelnut pangrattato

I’m gettin’ all Masterchef on yo asses!

Ok, I’ll stop.

For Melbourne summer’s absolutely last, promise this time, really last hurrah, Mr Eleanor and I went down to Cape Woolamai on Philip Island.

Cape Woolamai beach

On the way back we picked up some seafood. A kilo of the stuff. All for meeeeeeee! Woop!

Pasta photos are tough going, especially when it’s dark. I assure you this is tastier than it looks.

cauli scallop pasta

Pasta in a creamed cauliflower sauce with roasted florets, scallops and crispy hazelnut, lemon zest and garlic pangrattato

But you don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourself – here’s the recipe

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Pea and avo pasta with fennel

This might be my new pasta obsession – I always have to have one on the go. I would cheerfully lick the blades of the food processor to get at the smears of sauce hiding from my persistent spatula.

pea and avo pasta with fennel

Pasta with pea, avocado and goats cheese sauce, with caramelised fennel and Parmesan and almonds

The avocado sauce so smooth and has a really good bite of raw garlic; the caramelised fennel gives a great sweet balance to it, with the Parmesan providing the salty umami flavour.

This is easily adapted for all sorts of food intolerance without losing much:

  • GF – use GF pasta
  • LF – use lactose free cream instead of goats
  • Vegetarian – use a vegetarian hard cheese instead of Parmesan
  • Vegan – omit cheese
  • Nut free – omit almonds

I’m REALLY glad I outgrew my childhood avocado allergy though!

If you wanna make it, the recipe’s here.

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What to do with a squash as big as your head

Autumn produce is just irresistible, isn’t it? Blood red peppers, glossy purple-black aubergine, mountains of pale golden sweetcorn; earthy sweet beetroot, perfumed apples and crisp white cauliflower. I could wax lyrical endlessly.

One of my favourites has got to be squash (or pumpkin if that’s what you wanna call them). I picked up a big, beautiful organic squash the other day with a view to, er … no, I didn’t think that one through.

Shit! Gonna be eating squash every day for a week. But with some careful thought, this is where our squash went:

• Sliced into thick wedges, grilled on the barbie and served with tahini yoghurt dressing – beaut!
• Pumpkin, sage and ricotta filled pasta – the leftover filling made a fantastic vegetarian pate
• Chicken and pumpkin curry – switched out the mango for pumpkin and this recipe worked a treat
• The rest was cubed and roasted for the freezer, ready for risotto, pasta or salad whenever I need it

filled spelt pasta

I miss filled pasta! This is my rather clumsy oversized version made with spelt flour – I don’t have the patience or dexterity to make them any smaller. It doesn’t make them any less delicious.

For the filling: mix 2 parts roasted, mashed squashed with 1 part ricotta. Add grated parmesan, minced garlic, chopped sage and the zest and juice of a lemon to your taste and seasonal well. Don’t worry if you’ve got any leftover – it’s great with crudites or crackers.

Lunch!

semi-dried tomato and olive spaghetti

The ingredients may seem a little light on, but don’t be tempted to add more as it will be too salty. In the same vein, it doesn’t need seasoning with salt, or topping with parmesan which makes it a really tasty vegan option.

Shame it’s only lunch time, it would go REALLY well with a glass of merlot or rioja.

Although, it’s only me and the cats at home. And the cats wouldn’t tell on me. Would they?

It’s barely a recipe but here it is anyway: semi-dried tomato and olive spaghetti

When good enough is good enough

I heard this maxim recently, applied to help a team (yes, all of us) of introverts get over the hurdle of an implemented project not being entirely perfect – I know at least half of you understand that feeling! It definitely helped us become comfortable with the situation.

80 per cent of something ...

It got me thinking (as usual) about when “good enough” is:

  • the wise choice for the sake of expediency, cost and the benefit of others
  • forsaking your ambitions or capability, eg where would Serena Williams be without the relentless training to perfect her back hand?

But it also made me realise that my approach to cooking is very much about what I find to be an acceptable balance of:

  • Cost: time, money, effort
  • Gain: flavour, presentation, appreciation

Cost vs Gain

So the dish is “good enough” when the amount of extra cost required doesn’t lead to an appreciable gain. And then it stops being fun and I can’t have that! As it turns out, my mum was right. I am a bit of a lazy blighter, and the recipes that I devise are always ones with the biggest gain for the smallest cost. Both delicious and easy? Yes, please!
My new vegetarian pasta book will be out soon. All the recipes are really easy and for the most part can be done in the time it takes for the pasta to cook! Catch a preview here: TOSS