Category Archives: Pasta

Meat Sauce with a Caribbean twist

You will need:

400g minced beef/pork

1 large onion, diced

2 cups tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup sweetcorn

2 tablespoons curry powder

150ml coconut milk

Place your diced onions in a pan or wok with a tablespoon of olive oil , 2 tablespoons of water and the curry powder. Cook until the onions have turned translucent and soft, adding more water as they cook if necessary so as not to let them burn.

Add the meat and toss until it turns brown. Ideally the meat should be defrosted.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and sweetcorn and stir well. Leave to simmer on a low heat for about 40 minutes so that it reduces and thickens.

Finally add the coconut milk and cook for a further ten minutes. You may serve this as a pasta sauce or as a dip with savoury crackers or bread.

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Pesto Lasagne

This lasagna really felt like a winner in my kitchen. It’s genius, why isn’t it served as a vegetarian alternative in restaurants?! Now if I had some say in it..

You will need:

  • Pesto (you can easily make your own.. blog post in the future)
  • Approximately 12 sheets of plain or spinach pasta (learn how to make your own sheets here)
  • 400g ricotta
  • 250g grated mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 400ml white sauce (again, you can make your own)

Place one ladle of white sauce at the bottom of your oven dish to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom. Now you know how it’s done.

If cooking immediately preheat your oven to 180 degrees at the start.

In a bowl prepare the ricotta, cheeses and the rest of the white sauce..

.. and mix thoroughly

When I made this I used a mixture of sundried tomato pesto and basil pesto. I also mixed plain with spinach pasta sheets. Start to make layers as follows – pasta, pesto, ricotta mix – until all your ingredients are used up…

… finishing off with the ricotta mix.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the top starts to brown. Let it sit a while before cutting up to serve.

How to make your own pasta (linguini)

I LOVE pasta, and I’ve always wanted to try and make fresh pasta, but always feared that it was one of those risky things where everything needed to be just right… To our delight, it really is not the case.. and although it is quite a bit more labour intensive when compared to opening a box of pasta and throwing it into boiling water, it really is fun, and yummy!

For two persons you need:

2 eggs

200g plain flour

That’s it! Even the proportions are simple!

So, here we go –

Put the flour on a clean surface and make a hollow in the middle. Break both eggs and gently beat them.  Slowly start to incorporate the flour into the beaten egg and it will get thicker.   Eventually you will need to start using your hands, and just knead the mixture and combine all the egg and flour.   Keep kneading until you have a firm but stretchy dough.   Sprinkle a little extra flour if the dough is too wet, or just a few DROPS of water if it is too dry.

Wrap the dough in plastic and put it aside for half an hour.  This gives the gluten chance to settle and helps with rolling later on.   Take this time to prepare a sauce of your choice.

Next, knead the ball of dough into a flattish pancake. Don’t be too fussy – it just needs to be easy to handle for the first roll.

With your pasta rolling machine firmly anchored at the edge of the table, set the rollers to the widest gap, and roll the dough through for the first time.

The dough will be a bit grainy and may tend to break up. Don’t worry! Simply fold the strip in half and pass it through the rollers again.  Keep folding and rolling and you will soon see the texture changing, and the dough will become smooth and much more uniform.

Great! Now click the rollers to the next notch to make the dough slightly thinner.   If you notice the dough starting to break up again, simply fold in half and keep rolling on the same setting.

Gradually adjust the rollers and thin down your dough.   As it gets thinner, it also gets much longer, so you may want to cut the strip in half or more, to handle shorter pieces of dough. Also, it helps if two people are doing this process – one person feeding the pasta into the machine and rolling, whilst the second person helps draw the rolled pasta out of the bottom of the machine.

Now that you have finally reached the thinnest setting on the rollers, it is time to cut the linguine!  This process is exactly the same as rolling, except that you will use the cutting wheels rather than the rolling wheels on the machine.

Simply help out the linguini by hand, and drape them over a chair.

Now you can either cook these straight away, or leave them to dry out and use them later on.   Remember that fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so you really need to watch them carefully. These linguini were “Al Dente” in less than 3 minutes!

Using leftover coleslaw

Making good use of leftovers is something important to learn if you want to avoid throwing a lot of food out. It’s generally a good idea to try it the very next day, but it depends a lot on the type of food and for how long it keeps. A good indication is the smell – if you don’t like the smell of it then it’s probably gone off  or about to and it’s a very good idea to throw it away in that case.

In this instance I had some left over coleslaw salad – it has no dressing or mayo added to it.

In a dry pan place your salad together with a little bit of soy sauce and hoi sin sauce (or teriyaki – both optional).

In the mean time boil some pasta or rice until completely cooked. Drain and add to your cooked coleslaw. Stir until mixed, adding some olive oil or more soy sauce if necessary. Serve like this with fresh pepper or with grated feta/halloumi cheese on top.

This is also a great way or incorporating more vegetables into your meal!

Ling-ail-ol

Pasta happens to be one of our favorites, and whilst one can be very creative with sauces, this one is probably the simplest of all.  As usual, good quality ingredients are important!

You will need:
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Rock salt to taste
250g pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Throw in the pasta and time carefully.

Place all the remaining ingredients in a small pan and warm gently. You want to use a low flame here, as heating the olive oil too much will ruin its taste. Turn the heat off as soon as the garlic begins th brown at the edges.

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About 1 minute before the pasta is done, take the pot off the heat and strain. Place back on the heat and immediately add the oil, garlic etc. We used fresh Linguine flavoured with chilli and tomato, but the dish works perfectly well with ordinary dried pasta. Pick a decent brand though!

Stir and cook for the last minute. Add more olive oil if the pasta begins to stick. Serve and eat fresh.

Clams and cherry tomatoes

You will need:

  • Olive oil
  • Chopped garlic
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Clams so fresh they’re still spitting at you

It’s very important to rinse and soak your clams for some minutes in water. Throw that water away. Repeat.

Chop your tomatoes. Make someone laugh by placing one in each cheek and trying to speak 🙂

Boil water and prepare your linguine until slightly undercooked.

Heat a pan and place your olive oil, garlic and tomatoes.

On the left hand side of the colander you can observe the tongue-out action of the clam!

When the tomatoes are cooked, add the parsley and clams. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes on the pan and then cover for 3 minutes. Add pepper to taste.

Drain and mix everything with the linguine and cook for another 3 minutes. Serve!

The Gozo Experience – Ravjul

For the dough:

500 grams of flour will make about 3 dozen ravjul. The ingredients for the dough are only flour and water but it is imperative that you add the water little by little whilst kneading the dough. If you make the dough too sticky or watery you’re very likely to make ravjul soup once you start boiling them. So you need to literally add a couple of teaspoons at a time until you have quite a tough dough. This dough doesn’t need time to stand; you can roll it out and start cutting circles immediately after you’ve made it.

Roll it out as thin as possible and cut out circles using a cup or similar household item..

Before laying the dough circles down, place a thin layer or flour to avoid them sticking to the surface of the table or container.

For the filling we used fresh gbejniet (gozitan goat’s cheeselet), fresh chopped parsley, pepper and an egg. To fill 36 ravjul we used 4 cheeselets and one egg. Mash and mix everything up.

When filling remember that it’s important to be able to close the ravjul properly, as any leakages will cause them to split open when cooking. For sealing, wet half the edge of the circle very slightly with water. Then roll the dough over and seal first by pinching the top and then the bottom two corners and finally the remaining gaps. Try not to let any of the filling get in between the edges you’re sealing. Pinch until completely closed.

Cook in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain. Serve with or without sauce (we prefer without!) and/or grated Parmesan cheese.

Possibilities for other fillings are ricotta cheese,  spinach, mushrooms or meat.

With special thanks to the Ager Foundation.