Love Pasta?

Posted on: June 30th, 2009 by admin No Comments
  • Special guest- Lady Grey has graciously sent through another wonderful, efficient, healthy recipe direct from London. The beauty of her recipes are that they are for absolutely everyone, especially those who are a bit short on time or inspiration, isn’t that all of us sometimes?

Freestyle Pasta

Like too many of us, by the time I fall through the door in the evening* it is often more of a chore than a pleasure to put together something for dinner. However, being ruled by my stomach and aware that I should make some sort of concession to health, convenience foods are not welcome in my house. This is a super-easy, super-delicious meal that also packs a nutritional punch with loads of different vegetables, and better still, can be made with whatever random vegetables you have knocking around the place. Though it takes a while in the oven the amount of preparation time is teeny tiny, so while the meal is all but cooking itself you can be showering, drinking a nice cup of tea, watching telly, hoovering, going for a walk, painting your toenails, belly dancing round the living room, racing paper planes down the hallway, writing adventure stories, singing badly, loudly and unashamedly to AC/DC, with hair wildly fluffed out for authenticity… the possibilities are endless.

freestylepasta

Here is what you will need (all measurements being entirely approximate – this is meant to make life easier remember, so don’t worry too much about ‘the rules’):

  • 2-5 tomatoes, cut in big chunks (these melt down to make the sauciness, but if you don’t have any never fear, I have a trick that will take care of things)
  • Red (or white or brown) onion, quartered
  • Mixed vegetables – capsicum, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, fennel, cauliflower, aubergine, zucchini, green beans, beetroot, turnip, asparagus, leek etc.
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp dried herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil or marjoram)
  • 2-6 garlic cloves, peeled (alter amount to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked pasta or cous cous
  • Optional: spinach, chicory, rocket, corn, chopped fresh parsley, crumbled feta

First up, prepare your veg: wash everything, trim any beans and asparagus, scrub carrots and sweet potatoes (no need to peel), cut cauliflower into florets and everything else into chunks. Throw all the vegetables into a large baking dish and toss with olive oil and dried herbs to coat. Put into an oven heated to 180ºC (350ºF) and roast for about an hour. Add the garlic halfway through (it does not need as long to cook). It is nice to have a little charring on the vegetables, so if they are not coloured enough at the end of cooking time just put them under a very hot grill for 3-5 minutes.

At this stage you can toss through fresh herbs, crumbled cheese, spinach, salt and pepper, and finally cooked pasta or cous cous (or chickpeas, or white beans, or bulghur wheat or anything you like). Remember those tomatoes? If you don’t have any and the mix is a little too dry, just add a glug or so of olive oil to help things along.

And that is that, nothing left to do but eat and enjoy! This is also fantastic to have cold the next day for lunch, or if you only have a little left you could beat some eggs the next night and use it as a base for a frittata.

This is really meant to be a ‘freestyle’ meal that you can use with many different combinations, so using a basic principle you can come up with many different meals using whatever is in the cupboard that week. This said, there are a few vegetables I would not recommend using for this dish: potatoes are unnecessary as you will already be adding starch with your pasta, and they have much less nutritional value than most other vegetables. Cucumber, radish and cabbage will not roast well (though you could use Brussels sprouts). Other than that, most vegetables can be used either at the roasting stage, or mixed in at the end.

*Due to exhaustion from hard work, I hasten to add, not drunkenness. Well, not OFTEN.

(eatpress makes versions of this same recipe and at times, for all you meatatarians, we add left over sausage, chicken, chorizo, bacon etc, these cooked meaty leftovers work well, just add them about 5 minutes before the end!)

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