Thursday, 23 March 2017

Pasta with Aubergine & Mozzarella

Pasta with Aubergine & Mozzarella
Aubergines (eggplant) are in scarce supply at the moment, due to adverse weather conditions in Europe, and the quality has been quite variable. However, I spotted some lovely plump specimens in Tesco's the other day, so came up with this recipe to use them in.

This is a really simple, vegetarian pasta dish. The aubergine  takes a little while to cook, but everything else can be thrown together in minutes.

You could swap the aubergine for courgettes, mushrooms or whichever vegetables are cheap and in season.

Serves 4
  • 2 large aubergines, sliced thickly
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, roughly torn
  • 500g packet of fresh pasta
  • olive oil for frying
For the herby dressing:
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small chilli, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
Fry the aubergine in batches until soft and brown in colour (alternatively, brush with oil and bake in the oven.). Remove from the pan and chop roughly.

Make up the dressing by whizzing all the ingredients together in a mini-blender until fairly smooth, like a pesto. Warm the dressing through, in the pan which you cooked the aubergine in, while the pasta is cooking. Do not allow the garlic to colour, as this will give a bitter taste.

Cook the pasta and drain.

Mix the pasta, aubergine and dressing together. Top with the cheese.
Pop under a hot grill/broiler for a few minutes or microwave for 1 minute, if you want to warm the cheese though.

Serve with a seasonal salad.

Vegan option: Replace the cheese with some toasted pine nuts. For extra protein, add a drained tin of chickpeas to the dressing to warm through, before combining the remaining ingredients.

Variations: For a tomato sauce, simply add a can of chopped tomatoes to the dressing. Simmer for 10 minutes, before combining with the pasta and cooked aubergine.
Swap the mozzarella for feta.

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Saag Paneer Parathas

Saag Paneer Parathas
Unfortunately, work has been taking priority recently and blogging has had to take a back seat. I've been meaning to post for a while and finally managed to finish writing up this recipe...

Although I made it through January without a morsel of cheese passing my lips, I'm afraid to admit that cheese is well and truly back on the menu.

As street food is becoming more and more popular, I thought I'd blog another one of my favourite Indian snack recipes. The same filling could also be used to stuff chapattis, tortillas or even paninis if you prefer. I use a mini-blender to chop all of the spice paste ingredients, but you could chop then by hand if you don't have one.

Fills 4-6 parathas

For the spice paste:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1-2 green chillis, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
For the filling:
  • 250g/10oz fresh spinach (or frozen, defrosted)
  • 200g/8oz paneer, cubed
  • 150ml/ cup passata
  • 4-6 frozen, uncooked parathas (check ingredients, if vegan) 
Microwave or steam the spinach as per packet instructions. Cool and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Chop roughly, if using fresh spinach. 

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on a medium heat.
Fry the paneer for a few minutes, turning regularly, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the mustard seeds to the pan, along with a drop more oil. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the onion and spice paste.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is just starting to colour.
Add the cooked paneer and spinach and stir though.
Add the passata and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until you have quite a dry, thick filling.

If you have a panini press or George Forman-type grill, heat it up. If not, cook the parathas one at a time in a large frying pan on a high heat.

Take one frozen paratha and heat it for 1-2 minutes on the press/grill/pan. Turn over and fill with a generous spoonful of filling. Fold in half, or roll like a burrito and cook for a further minute or two on each side, until golden brown.

Serve with onion salad and your favourite chutneys.

Vegan version: swap the paneer for a tin of chickpeas to make a chana saag filling.
Top tip:  double the amount of passata to make a saag paneer side dish.

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