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Pasta

Garlic, parmesan spaghetti

This has got to be the simplest, fastest and lightest spaghetti dish I know.
It’s so easy to throw together and always surprises people as the flavor of the chicken broth permeates the pasta while cooking, making it more intense.
There are countless variations of this recipe and you can certainly experiment but try this version first.

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Serves 4

4 good swirls olive oil (about 4 to 6 tbsp)
4 big cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (or more or less to taste, depending on how much of a kick you like)
1 box spaghetti or fettuccine (1lb)
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a good sized bunch Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Fill a good-sized saucepan with water, add two large handfuls of salt and a couple of glugs of olive oil. Bring to a rolling boil and add the spaghetti, stirring occasionally. While the water is coming to the boil, prep the garlic and parsley. About 4 minutes before it’s “al dente”, drain it and set the pasta aside.

In a good sized saute pan over medium heat, give 4 good swirls of olive oil.
Add the sliced garlic and saute gently with some salt, pepper and chili flakes until fragrant, stirring for about 2 – 3 minutes.
Dump in the par-cooked spaghetti, the parsley and the chicken broth and stir well. Once the broth is bubbling, turn it down a little and allow the spaghetti to simmer in the broth, finishing it’s cooking.
The chicken broth will be absorbed into the spaghetti and reduce. You can add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan at this point, stirring well, and it will create a light, creamy sauce. (Test the pasta to see if it’s al dente, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.)
Plate the spaghetti and add more grated parmesan cheese.

Garlic noodles with mushrooms and miso butter

This is a wonderfully simple recipe from the food blog, “Steamy Kitchen” It’s worth signing up to them, as they have some super recipes with those lovely Asian flavors.
Use either Chinese egg noodles or thin spaghetti noodles.

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Serves 4
1/2 pound dry pasta or noodles of your choice
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 green onions (scallions), chopped
12 ounces fresh mushrooms of your choice
2 tablespoons Miso & Easy (or 1 tablespoon regular miso paste)
2 teaspoons Maggi Sauce (or 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter, garlic and green onion. Cook for 1 minute or until very fragrant, making sure to keep an eye on the heat so that the garlic does not burn. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the miso, Maggi Sauce (or oyster sauce) and stir.
Add in the cooked pasta and toss well.

Lemongrass prawns with Thai noodle salad

This is a very refreshing Asian-style salad, perfect for a hot day. We have a Kaffir lime tree (well worth having, if you cook a lot of Asian food) but if you can’t buy Kaffir lime leaves, then use some grated  lime rind instead. This is also a great do-ahead recipe if you’re entertaining.

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Serves 8

For Prawns and Noodles:

2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh Kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 lb tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
1 (8-oz) package bean thread (cellophane) noodles

For Dressing:

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp red pepper flakes

For Garnish:

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus sprigs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
4 spring onions, chopped

Directions

For prawns and noodles: Peel outer layer of lemongrass. Cut into very fine crosswise slices and transfer to a large bowl.

In same bowl, combine lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic, lime leaf, salt, and pepper. Add prawns and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high, cook prawns for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a plate.

Put noodles in a bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make dressing: In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients.

Add noodles and toss, then add prawns. Garnish with chopped cilantro, mint, spring onions, and cilantro sprigs.

Soba noodles with sesame seeds

This is a wonderfully simple and utterly addictive recipe from Nigella Lawson. As she so poetically says, “You can lift the bowl to your face with this dish”. They are served cold so are perfect for a packed lunch.

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3 oz sesame seeds
salt
8 oz soba noodles
5 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil (I love toasted sesame oil)
6 green onions

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a high heat until they are golden brown and tip them into a bowl.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt.
Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 minutes (or according to the packet instructions) until they are tender but not mushy.
Have a bowl of iced water waiting to plunge them into after draining.

In the bowl you are going to serve them in, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Then finely slice the green onions and put them into the bowl with the cooled drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Leave the sesame seed noodles for about 30 minutes to let the flavors develop and lift the bowl to your face!

Creamy spinach and sausage spaghetti

This is a real comfort dish, the soothing creaminess of the spinach paired with whatever flavor sausage you prefer. Thank you to Delicious Magazine for this recipe. I love sharing recipes I find online!

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Serves 3 to 4

12 oz spaghetti (or other pasta)
1 medium red onion
2 garlic cloves
4 good quality sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
6 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
3oz crème fraîche
1 good sized lemon
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add the spaghetti and cook for 9-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving a 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, finely slice the onion and garlic and roughly chop the sausages into bite-size pieces. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and gently fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sausages and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mustard and spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche.

Zest the lemon, then stir into the sauce along with the pasta and reserved water.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then divide among 4 bowls and serve topped with a grating of parmesan.

15 minute Coconut curry noodle soup

Want a bowl of heaven in 15 minutes?  This recipe is from a great blog called Woks of Life and has all my favorite ingredients rolled into one bowl of deliciousness.

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Makes 2 generous portions

You’ll need:

2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 heaped tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste (or 3 tbsp if you like it really spicy)
8 oz. boneless chicken breast or thighs, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tbsp fish sauce
2/3 cup coconut milk
6 oz. dried rice vermicelli noodles (or the fine rice noodles)
A bag of beansprouts (about 10 oz)
1 lime, juiced
Sliced red onion, red chilies, cilantro, scallions to garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil, garlic, ginger, and Thai red curry paste. Fry for 5 minutes, until fragrant.
Add the chicken and cook for a couple minutes, just until the chicken turns opaque.
Add the chicken broth, water, fish sauce, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. At this point, taste the broth for salt and adjust seasoning accordingly (add salt if needed, or if it’s too salty, add a bit of water).

Put the dried rice vermicelli noodles in each of your large soup bowls, add a large handful of beansprouts, a good amount of roughly chopped cilantro and about 1/4 cup chopped scallions per bowl.
Pour the boiling soup over all this and add a good squeeze of lime juice to each bowl.Let sit for about 4 minutes until the noodles are cooked. Serve

(Alternatively, you can add the noodles to the boiling broth to cook them, and then divide among serving bowls).

Easy lemon pesto sauce

A light, lemony and more refreshing version of a traditional pesto sauce is delicious tossed with hot pasta for a quick meal or side dish with roasted or grilled meats and fish.
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2 garlic cloves
3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts (to toast the pine nuts, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.)
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, basil, parsley, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse until ground to a fine paste, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups.

Easy chorizo pasta bake

I love chorizo and often order it online through “La Tienda” a great Spanish website. I like the mild chorizo best but do remember to peel it before using. This is a warming, spicy pasta that you will adore!
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Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 good sized red onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 red peppers (capsicums) roughly chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
6 oz (or even 8 oz) good quality Spanish chorizo, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch dried red chillies
28 oz tin plum tomatoes
a good handful of fresh basil, ripped up
1 tsp sugar
12 oz penne pasta
8 oz mozzarella

Heat the olive oil in a large pan then gently cook the onion for 5 minutes until soft, adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute.
Add the peppers and chorizo and cook until the meat starts to crisp up.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar, paprika, chilli, if you want an extra kick, and the tomatoes.
Mix it well, breaking up the tomatoes, add the basil, then season with a tsp of sugar and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and then add to the pan of simmering sauce.
Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and stir half into the pasta mixture.
Turn out into a large ovenproof dish, dot with the remaining chunks of mozzarella and then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is all melted.

Serve with a large green salad and some great garlic bread

Mushroom and Marsala Pasta Bake

What a lovely idea to have the benefits of Chicken Marsala but with pasta instead of chicken. This is such a silky, comforting and tasty dish to make and can be all done in a 3 to 5 qt heavy stove-to-oven braiser, depending if you’re doubling the recipe for more people. This recipe is credited to “Smitten Kitchen” food blog.

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Serves 4

8 oz of a robust pasta of your choice, such as a ziti
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb fresh mushroom, sliced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (not pre-grated)
6 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Make the sauce:
Reheat your empty pasta pot over high heat. Add the oil and once it is hot, add the mushrooms and cook until they’ve begun to brown and glisten, but have not yet released their liquid. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the onions, salt and pepper and saute together until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated.
Add the Marsala and cook the mixture, stirring, until it has almost or fully evaporated (depending on your preference).
Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and stir until all has been dampened and absorbed. Add the broth, a very small splash at a time, stirring the whole time with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully mixed into the butter/flour/mushroom mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash.
Repeat until all the broth has been added. Let the mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove the pan from heat.

Assemble and bake the dish:
Add the cooked pasta and stir until combined. Stir in half the parmesan, all of the mozzarella and two tablespoons of the parsley until evenly mixed. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown and irresistible. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot. Reheat as needed.

Penne with brown butter, arugula, tomatoes and pine nuts

This is a terrific recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis and is full of great textures and flavors. Although it’s a pasta dish, it’s really like a room temp pasta salad that’s light, tangy, easy to make and makes a great lunch for friends.

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Dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp good Dijon mustard
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Pasta:
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

Firstly, toast the pine nuts by arranging them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, crushed garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper until smooth. Set aside.

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a high-sided skillet, whisk the butter over medium heat until melted. Simmer until foamy. Continue to cook until the butter has a nutty aroma and turns a caramel color, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta, dressing, arugula, tomatoes, Parmesan, pine nuts, and capers. Toss until coated, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.