July 13th, 2007

Double C to the P Delight & Peanut Butter that is Rockin'

Now I need people to try these recipes because I'm sort of sick (stomach bug). They were created wistfully when I was eating some yogurt.

Cinnamon Coconut Peach Delight

Take one or two peaches slice them, and put them in a frying pan to carmelize. Use about 1/2 c. sugar (brown sugar might work too, not sure experiment!). Cook on medium until peaches are fully carmelized.
Take glutinous rice, steam it and make sure it sticks. Mix some sweetend coconut in it, and pour a little bit of coconut milk on top, lay the peaches on top.
Dash some cinnamon on top for garnishing (optional).

Peanut Butter That is Rockin'

1/2 c. oatmeal
1 or 2 apples
1 or 2 bananas
(those depend on how much you want this to be)
Two LARGE spoonfuls of peanut butter, about 3 tblsp.
Cinnamon and brown sugar mixture

In a bowl mix the peanut butter and oatmeal together thoroughly. Add the cinnamon and brown sugar into it, I usually just put a teaspoon of both but you can change it up according to your sweet tooth. On a plate cut up the apples and bananas.
Place the bananas and apples on top of the peanut butter mixture.
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Pasta con le cime di rapa

I've just posted a bunch of vegan pasta recipes on my journal because a friend had asked me if I knew any. On feorag's suggestion, I'm reposting them here.

The title translates as "pasta with turnip greens".

Ingredients for 4 servings (see note on ingredients at the end of the recipe)

300-400 g orecchiette
600 g - 1 kg turnip greens
3-4 cloves garlic
a dozen salted capers (not vinegar-pickled!)
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 dried chillies (optional)

1. Clean and wash the greens; remove the tougher stems (can be used for stock).
2. Boil a large quantity of salted water and throw the greens in when it boils.
3. Cover the pot; as soon as it boils again, throw in the pasta and cook together until ready. (This is for "regular" dried pasta. If using fresh orecchiette, they cook much faster, so cook the greens for 5 minutes before adding the pasta.)
4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a wok or large pan. Peel and bruise the garlic cloves; rinse and roughly chop the capers. Add garlic, capers and salt to the oil and fry while the pasta cooks. (Add chillies too if you like. I do.)
5. Drain the pasta and greens and add to the flavourings in the wok. Cook together for a couple of minutes and serve.

(Long) note on ingredients:

This is a very traditional recipe from Puglia (the heel of the boot), except for the detail that the traditional recipe uses anchovies, and I've replaced them with capers (as I always do to adapt Italian recipes that are otherwise vegetarian: it works very well.)

Turnip greens ("cime di rapa") are the traditional ingredient, but they're very seasonal and they're not available everywhere. A few days ago I made this pasta with mustard greens and it worked wonderfully. I assume it will work just as well with any kind of bitterish greens (spinach is probably too bland, much as I love it). And there's the "almost-traditional" version with broccoli, which is basically what Italians do when cime di rapa aren't available. (For the broccoli version, it's worth separating stalks and florets and boiling the stalks for a few minutes before adding florets and pasta together.)

Orecchiette are a special kind of pasta from Puglia. Frankly, I can't imagine making this recipe with any other kind of pasta. There are several Italian brands available: I have no difficulty finding them in Dublin, don't know about elsewhere... I suppose in an emergency farfalle could be used though.

Also traditionally, grated pecorino is added on the table; elsewhere in Italy, people often use parmesan instead. Obviously, this makes it non-vegan. The dish doesn't need pecorino to be very tasty: I just mentioned this for completeness :-)
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Pasta coi borlotti

Borlotti is a variety of beans which is very popular in Italy. These days, they're usually bought canned, and that's the kind I always use -- partly because I've never seen them fresh or dried here in Dublin, but also because the canned version is very good anyway. Apparently they're the same thing as American "cranberry beans", and they're similar to pinto beans (not the same, but I suspect pinto could be used for this recipe). Here's what they look like when they're raw and when they're cooked. I've also made this with pre-cooked blackeye beans (called blackeye peas by Americans, I think, just to confuse things).

If you haven't tried borlotti, do! They're delicious, quite mealy and meaty. They're used in lots of Italian recipes, and they can also be eaten on their own as a salad (extra free vegan recipe!! Drain and rinse canned borlotti, add extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped spring onion/scallion, leave to blend for a while and eat.)

This is a very simple and quick pasta recipe which I love and make quite often.

To work properly, it requires a pasta with a somewhat rough surface. I usually make it with tagliatelle (fresh if possible, otherwise dried). Orecchiette (as in the previous recipe posted) also work very well. Lasagnette (or broken-up lasagne) and similar flat, rough-surfaced pasta also work. And most fresh pasta works for the same reason.

Quantities are for 4 servings.

300-400 g tagliatelle (or see above for other types of pasta)
1 tin (~250 g) of borlotti beans
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
3 dried chillies (not really optional, but you can reduce the quantity if you must...)

1. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse well. Leave in the colander to drain, with some salt sprinkled over them.
2. Boil a large pot of salted water. If using dried pasta, throw it in and cook it for 5 minutes before starting the next step; if using fresh, start the next step immediately after the pasta is in the pot.
3. In a wok or large pan, heat up the oil with the (peeled and bruised) garlic cloves, salt, ground black pepper and chillies.
4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it on top of the beans (so they heat up). Get rid of as much water as possible.
5. Toss the pasta and beans into the wok/pan and mix well with the flavoured oil. Remove the garlic (easier to do it just before you add the pasta, in fact). Fry together for a couple of minutes and serve.

(Note that this recipe is not at all the same as "pasta e fagioli", which sounds very generic but is in fact a fairly specific traditional recipe. It also uses borlotti, but it's completely different. It also doesn't really work as a vegetarian recipe, much to my chagrin -- it can be done, but it's not the same.)
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Pasta con le zucchine

Quantities for 4 servings

400 g pasta (e.g. bucatini, penne, farfalle)
800 g - 1 kg zucchini/courgettes
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 dried chillies (optional)
a handful of fresh parsley (flat-leaf is nicer, but curly leaf is fine), chopped fine.
salt to taste

1. Chop the zucchini into thin rounds, or half-rounds if you have large zucchini. Make them as thin as you can.
2. Boil salted water for pasta; unless you're using fresh pasta, you can do all of the next step while the pasta cooks.
3. In a wok/large pan, heat the oil with (bruised) garlic, salt and (if you like) chillies. Add the zucchini when the oil is hot and stir-fry while the pasta cooks.
4. Drain the pasta when it's cooked and add to the zucchini in the wok/pan. Mix well together for a couple of minutes. (As usual, you can remove the garlic just before adding the pasta. You can also remove the chillies at the same time...)
5. Add the chopped parsley at the last minute, mix and serve.
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No-cook pepper sauce

This is a very quick pasta sauce which requires no cooking. I made it up one night for dinner and noted it down on a piece of paper -- this was before I had LiveJournal... easier to find here :-)

It would probably work pretty much with any kind of pasta, though I tend to use penne or fusilli.

Quantities for 2 servings

1/2 red (sweet/bell) pepper
5 salted capers
1 spring onion/scallion
1 ts lemon juice
2 ts extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley
salt to taste
1 ts brandy (optional)

1. Put pepper, capers and spring onion in a blender and buzz briefly. It shouldn't be a puree, just finely chopped. (Of course, you can also do this with a knife or mezzaluna -- the blender is just faster)
2. Put the chopped ingredients in a bowl and add the lemon, salt, oil and chopped parsley -- and the brandy if you like. (Since it's not going to be cooked, the alcohol isn't going to be burned off in this recipe.) Mix well. Leave to blend for a while before adding to pasta.

Possible variations: Fresh basil should work well instead of parsley. A few green olives could be added to the peppers and stuff in the blender. (I haven't actually tried these variations, they just sprang to mind as I was writing...)
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Pommarola (2 vegan recipes for the price of one!)

"Pommarola" means tomato in Neapolitan, or so I'm told. It's the basic Italian tomato sauce, most traditionally eaten with spaghetti. The traditional version is made with onion, which sweetens it. The other version, without onion, is what I use because I prefer its slightly sharper taste; it's also a very common Italian recipe, but it's not "properly" called pommarola.

Both versions of this tomato sauce keep very well for a few days in a glass jar in the fridge: I always make more than I need (using a whole tin of tomatoes). In that case, it's better to add the fresh basil only to the quantity you're going to use immediately, and then add it to the stored sauce when you take it out to use.

They can be used as they are on pasta, or used as a base for other sauces (e.g. adding mushrooms or pretty much any other vegetable), or in completely different recipes (e.g. adding to peppers and/or aubergines and stewing for a while, or with refried beans).

I always make these sauces with tinned tomatoes. Tinned whole tomatoes. In my opinion, it works a lot better than using fresh tomatoes that are either (a) not ripe enough, or (b) not a proper "sauce" variety. Since finding ripe, juicy sauce tomatoes in Dublin is pretty much impossible, I just use tins. It's ok, it's entirely allowed and it's done by most Italians I know :-) Of course, if you happen to have the right tomatoes, go right ahead and use them!

Quantities for 2 servings

Version 1: traditional pommarola

1 tin tomatoes (~250 g.) or same quantity of ripe plum tomatoes
1 small-medium onion
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a few fresh basil leaves

1. Slice the onion thinly and sweat it in the oil until golden.
2. Add the tinned tomatoes and squash them with a fork, and then add the juice from the tin (or add the chopped fresh tomatoes with their juice). (You can throw the pasta in the water at this point.)
3. Cook for about 10 minutes (the tomatoes should dry up a bit, but not completely -- add water if they dry up too much).
4. Add fresh basil leaves and serve on pasta (or put in a jar minus the basil).

Version 2: simplest tomato sauce

1 tin tomatoes (~250 g.) or same quantity of ripe plum tomatoes
1 large clove garlic, peeled and bruised
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1-3 dried chillies, depending on how hot you like it (oh all right, you can leave out the chilli completely if you prefer...)
a few fresh basil leaves

1. Heat the oil in a pan, add salt, garlic and chilli and fry for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the tinned tomatoes and squash them with a fork, and then add the juice from the tin (or add the chopped fresh tomatoes with their juice). (You can throw the pasta in the water at this point.)
3. Cook for about 10 minutes (the tomatoes should dry up a bit, but not completely -- add water if they dry up too much).
4. Add fresh basil leaves and serve on pasta (or put in a jar minus the basil).
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Pasta coi pinoli

This is a variation on the simplest pasta sauce of all, which is called "aglio olio e peperoncino" (garlic oil and chilli) and also "pasta dello scapolo" (bachelor's pasta) -- which is exactly the same minus the pine nuts. It's just as easy but somewhat more interesting.

A note about pine nuts: the Asian variety is a lot more common outside Italy, and usually much cheaper. They are in fact different plants and the taste is completely different -- or rather, the Asian variety has almost no taste, to my Italian palate at least. Do yourself a favour and look for the Mediterranean version -- they're long and thin, rather like giant grains of rice, and they have a pine-like taste which the Asian variety doesn't have. Interestingly, Wikipedia has a picture of the the Mediterranean variety in the Italian article, and a picture of the Asian variety in the English article.[1]

This is always made with spaghetti. You can probably be shot for making aglio & olio with any other kind of pasta, so I suppose it's best to play it safe and use spaghetti for this version as well.

Quantities for 2 servings

200 g spaghetti
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic [which I had forgotten to list previously...]
2-3 dried chillies
a small handful of pine nuts

1. Boil water and start cooking the pasta. Use somewhat more salt than usual in the water, because there's no salt in the sauce.
2. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a pan. Add garlic (either peeled and bruised or peeled and finely chopped), chillies and pine-nuts and fry for a few minutes, without burning any of the ingredients.
3. When the pasta is ready, drain, add the sauce, mix well and serve. (Mixing in the individual bowl doesn't work very well with this.) Take care to distribute the pine nuts fairly -- they tend to congregate in the pan.

[1] Nostalgia moment. When I was a child, we always used to come back from our summer holidays with at least one large jar of fresh pine nuts collected "in the wild". Washing them and shelling them is quite a lot of messy[2] and boring work, but it's also great for keeping the children occupied in the long summer afternoons... and the taste is something else.

[2] Freshly-gathered pine nut shells are covered in (a) resin and (b) a dark purple powder that sticks to everything. Especially when "everything" is already covered in resin...

Edited to list garlic in the ingredients.
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Pasta con le uvette

Uvette means raisins/sultanas. This is a recipe my father used to make a lot (probably still does), I think he invented it himself but I'm not sure. His version uses anchovies; mine uses capers instead.

Quantities for 2 servings

200 g spaghetti or bucatini
2 small onions, chopped really thin
30 pine nuts[1]
30 sultanas[2], soaked in warm water for at least 15 minutes (preferably 1/2 hour)
5 capers, chopped small (these are easy enough to count)
2 dried chillies
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

1. Boil water for pasta. Use a bit more salt than you normally would.
2. While the water heats up, fry the onions, capers and chillies in a little olive oil on medium heat until the onions are soft.
3. When the water boils, throw in the pasta.
4. When the onions are soft, add the sultanas and pine nuts. You can also add a bit of salt.
5. Drain the pasta, add the sauce, mix well and serve.

[1] This is how you tell I got this recipe from my father. "How many pine nuts, dad?" "30." A small handful will do, you don't actually need to count them. He doesn't either, really.
[2] As above, but note that given the different size of the ingredients 30 sultanas is more like 1-1/2 or 2 small handfuls.
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As a friend noticed in a comment to my original post, "peperoni" in Italian means "big peppers" -- nothing to do with sausages, I'd never even heard of a sausage called "pepperoni" before I came to Ireland...

This is a traditional Italian recipe which is not primarily a pasta sauce, but it can be used as such. By itself, it can be eaten hot, warm or cold, as a starter or a side dish -- or as the centrepiece of a vegetarian meal, for example with a potato salad.

It takes a lot longer to make than all the other recipes I've posted today: it should cook four about 1 hour. However, it can be made in advance and reheated if needed. It also keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.

Quantities for 4 servings (as a separate dish: if used as a sauce for pasta, it will do at least for 6)

4 red or yellow (sweet/bell) peppers (usually made with mixed colours for visual variety)
4 medium-sized tomatoes or tinned tomatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar (or to taste)
1-2 bay leaves (optional)
2-3 dried chillies (optional)
salt to taste

1. Clean the peppers (remove stem, seeds and the white pith) and cut into pieces approx 2x2 cm.
2. Chop the onion to whatever size you like (I like it medium-fine).
3. Heat the oil in a pan that has a lid, adding the garlic (bruised or chopped), a pinch of salt and the chillies (if you're using them).
4. Fry the onion in the oil until soft.
5. Add the peppers and fry for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring.
6. Add the tomatoes (chopped if fresh, if using tinned just squash them with a fork), lower the heat and cover. Add the bay leaves at this stage if you're using them.
7. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally and adding some water (or tomato juice from the tin) if they're too dry.
8. Add about 1 tbsp of wine vinegar, stir and cook for another couple of minutes uncovered. Check and adjust salt after the vinegar has had a chance to blend in.
9. Serve immediately or when it's cooled. Or use as a sauce for pasta.