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Vegetarian pasta

A bowl of Asian goodness

This is divine on a hot day when you don’t feel like cooking too much. It’s also a great starter for a dinner party

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Serves 4 as a starter

1/2 oz instant dashi granules
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
10 1/2 oz soba noodles
1 nori sheet
3 1/4 inch piece of daikon radish, peeled and finely grated
3 scallions, finely sliced

Put the dashi granules in a bowl and pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over them.
Stir until the granules have dissolved, then add the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, wasabi paste and ginger. Stir to make a dressing.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the noodles. Allow the water to return to the boil then add 1/2 cup cold water to drop the temperature a little.
Repeat this process three times, then drain the noodles.
Rinse the noodles with cold water to remove the starch, then divide between 4 bowls.

Toast the nori sheet over a high flame or in a hot oven, then slice into this strips. Pour the dressing over the noodles, toss lightly, then scatter with the daikon, scallions and nori strips.

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.

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
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!

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.

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.

Indian-style macaroni and cheese

Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients, they are all pantry staples which I’m sure you have. I adore Indian food and who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This combination is superb!

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Serves 6 to 8

3 tbsp butter
4 cups dried macaroni (14 oz)
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, minced
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin (I roast mine)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/4 tsp red chile pepper
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of pepper
3 cups whole milk
4 cups grated mature cheddar (about 14 oz)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9″ by 13″ ovenproof dish with 1 tbsp of the butter.

Fill a large pot with water and place it over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil and add a good amount of salt. Add the macaroni and cook until tender, but still firm. About 8 to 10 mins. Drain.

Melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and onions. Stir and cook until the onions are just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cardamon, chili powder and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk and continue to stir as it thickens. Cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the 3 cups of cheese and stir until melted.

Add the drained macaroni to the baking dish and then pour over the cheese sauce, stirring well and making sure all the macaroni is well coated.
Sprinkle the top with the rest of the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs and bake until the top is golden and the macaroni is hot and bubbling. About 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot

Mushrooms with an Asian shitake cream sauce

This sauce is well worth adding to your repertoire. It is incredibly versatile being equally wonderful with pasta, rice, chicken, grilled meat and  seafood. No-one will be able to figure out why it tastes so gorgeous and exotic and you will wow your guests with it. Oh and it’s quick and easy!

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Serves 4 as an entree

1 lb fresh shitake mushrooms
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white vermouth or white wine
1 tbsp thin soy sauce
1 tsp dark sesame oil (toasted is great)
1/4 tsp grated orange zest
1/8 tsp Asian chile sauce
1 tbsp finely minced fresh ginger

To do in advance, (up to 8 hours) discard the stems from the fresh shitake mushrooms. Cut each cap into 4 wedges. Set aside the unsalted butter and chopped chives. In a bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients, then refrigerate until you’re ready to cook the dish.

Place a 12 inch saute pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and when it’s melted, add the mushrooms.
Saute the mushrooms until they absorb the butter, then add the cream sauce. Bring the sauce to the boil and boil the mushrooms, stirring until the sauce has thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. (about 4 minutes) Add the chives to the sauce, and serve with whatever you like.

Creamy tagliatelli with figs, gorgonzola, lemon and rosemary

Creamy tagliatelli with figs, lemon and rosemary


Another vegetarian beauty of a pasta dish. This has the sweetness of the figs, the saltiness of the blue cheese and it’s altogether stunning.

Serves 4
1 lb tagliatelli (or any other sort of pasta you like)
1 oz butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
12 ripe black mission figs, quartered (One fig is nice to keep for a garnish, cutting it into thin slices)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 oz gorgonzola or dolcelatte cheese
3 fl oz heavy cream
2 oz grated parmesan cheese (not the pre-grated stuff)

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta
Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed pan, heat the butter and fry the garlic, rosemary and chili for 1 minute. Top and tail the figs, cut them into quarters and place them flesh down in the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn them over and allow them to break down.
Add the lemon zest and season with freshly ground pepper and a little salt (your cheese will also salt the dish, so be careful not to put too much salt in at this point)
Add the cheese to the figs and allow it to melt. Add the cream and simmer gently to reduce, before stirring in half the lemon juice and half of the grated parmesan cheese.
Taste the cream sauce, it will be sweet and rich, hot, sour and salty. The lemon will cut the richness so that it is not too cloying. The blue cheese gives a depth to the flavor. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Strain the pasta and mix in the pasta sauce. Season with lots of black pepper, the remaining lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese.
Garnish with the fig slices.



Spaghetti with Mascarpone, Meyer lemon, spinach and toasted hazelnuts

Spaghetti with Mascarpone, Meyer lemon, spinach and toasted hazelnuts


A gorgeous, light, creamy and tangy vegetarian pasta dish.

Serves 2 as a main course
1 tsp Meyer lemon zest (from about 1/2 lemon)
Juice from 1 Meyer lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 tsp salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 lb spaghetti
5 cups loosely packed spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

Combine the zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta until al dente, taking it off the heat 2 minutes before you would normally remove it.
Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Return the pasta to the pot and set the pot over low heat. Stir in the mascarpone sauce. Add the spinach and toss so that the spinach begins to wilt. Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water (more if you need) to keep the sauce fluid but not too watery.
Continue to cook and toss until the spinach is cooked. Add the hazelnuts and stir to combine.

Serve immediately


Soba noodles with miso and baby eggplant

Soba noodles with miso and baby eggplant


Another vegetarian, Asian influenced dish. I just love the combination of flavors and ease of creating.

Serves 4
9 oz soba noodles
3 tsp dashi granules
1 1/2 tbsp yellow miso paste
1 1/2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
6 baby eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup cooked peas (if using frozen, boil them in water for 3 minutes and drain)
3 scallions (spring onions) sliced thinly on the diagonal
toasted sesame seeds for garnish.

Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water fr 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water.
Dissolve the dashi granules in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir in the miso paste, soy sauce and mirin.
Heat half the oils in a large frying pan over high heat.
Cook the eggplant slices for 4 minutes, or until golden on both sides. Set aside and use the remaining oil to cook the second batch of eggplant.
Put the first batch of cooked eggplant slices back in the pan and  stir in the garlic and ginger, then the miso mixture and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened and the eggplant is cooked. Add the noodles and peas and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through.
Serve the noodles in shallow bowls and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.