Green Split Pea and Broccoli Pasta

I am always trying to find quick and nutritious ways to cook broccoli and legumes in an interesting way for my daughter. Broccoli is probably the only vegetable she will outright say is yucky. However recently she has been saying she wants to eat it in between meals. I’m not sure if she is joking or shes finally coming around due to the daily exposure. Legumes have also been a challenge to serve in their whole form. Split peas and lentils are great introductory legumes for little people because they are small and soft when cooked and don’t have that skin that can get stuck in their throat (like chickpeas). I like to add them to pasta sauces, lasagna, curries and stews, for more fibre and protein.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times and it has gone down without a fight. I have left the option of adding organic free-range ham, for carnivores or flexitarians. My daughter loves ham, which she discovered at Kindy. My local organic butcher makes their own leg ham, so it’s the only one I let her eat occasionally. She would seriously choose ham over sweets any day. If you’re a grown-up vegan you could use some liquid smoke or vegan ham. Although this recipe is delicious and healthy without these additions. If you still don’t use salt in your toddlers’ diet, you can always skip the liquid stock or just make your own salt free version. I use to do this and freeze them in baby freezer pods. You could also use the first part of the recipe of green split peas mixture as a healthier alternative to potato mash.

Continue reading “Green Split Pea and Broccoli Pasta”

Como: panoramic lake views and splendid villas

After staying Milano it was time to go further north to visit my family. On the way, we stopped at the north Italian town of Como. This idyllic town sits on Lake Como and the Swiss-Italian border. The amazing panoramic views of mountains and the lake is a little piece of paradise and is known for its’ rich and famous residents.

I’ve always wanted to visit Como, but for some reason or another never got here while I was living in Milano. Luckily we were able to drive to Como and up through Switzerland to visit my family in Luino, Italy. This took roughly the same amount of time as it would be to drive directly north. So we made a stop for a couple of hours to see the majestic lake and have some lunch.

 


 

Our first impressions of Como was the gorgeous old architecture and bustling narrow streets full of shops and cafes. Nearly every directions you look had a beautiful mountainous backdrop.

 


 

Like every Italian town, there was a beautiful Duomo in the centre of the city. Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta is a very special duomo because it is last Gothic cathedral built in Italy. It was built between 1396 to 1770.

 


 

The Lago di Como (Lake Como) is a huge body of water and is the third largest lake in Italy. Many wealthy people have built and resided in homes along the shore of the river, as far back as Roman times. It really is so spectacular to see in person and feels like your looking into a beautiful landscape painting. The lake is actually shaped like a wishbone and the city of Como is situated on the bottom left of the fork shape.

 


 

We continued walking around the Giardini del Tempio Voltiano and up to the Aero Club Como to see new perspectives of the lake. The garden itself is quite beautiful and plush and has many war memorials. If you have the time, you can take a small water plane from the Aero Club and see even more amazing birds eyes views. You can also visit the museum Tempio Voltiano, which is dedicated to the inventor of the electrical battery, Alessandro Volta.

 


 

The Passeggiata Villa Olmo is a scenic pedestrian road along the river. This walk will take you past the splendid villas, all the way to neoclassical Villa Olmo. Unfortunately on our visit we were not able to walk all the way to the Villa Olmo, as there was work being done on the grounds and the garden beds were all taken out. I wish the tourist office had mentioned that after they recommended we visit it. I imagine doing a tour of these villas would be amazing, to learn their history and see their interiors.

 


 

After all that walking we were really hungry. So we walked back towards to centre and headed to a hidden gem. L’Ora della Pasta is a small fast-service lunch bar that serves fresh pasta and ready made meals. They use organic and high quality ingredients and offer vegetarian and vegan options. You only need to choose your pasta and sauce and they will whip you up a lovely authentic meal that is reasonably priced and really delicious. We ordered Gnocchi al pesto and Ravioli con mozzarella di bufala.


 

So that was my short visit to Como. I hope you enjoyed revisiting it with me. If you would like to know more about this beautiful town, see Visit Como website for more information.

Veggie Pasta Bake with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Trying to get my toddler to eat vegetables every day is a really challenging. Considering I have been giving her green vegetables every day since she started eating, she still decided that green foods are yucky. I’m not sure how she got so picky, but I guess it’s normal for most toddlers. She also isn’t a fan of chewy her food, so if it’s not soft it comes back up. She also hates anything pureed, since she isn’t a baby anymore. Strangely pasta, rice, meat and biscuits seem to get chewed and never come back up. Despite this not eating vegetables in this house is non-negotiable. So I’m trying to normalising it as much as I can, so it doesn’t become an issue. I try not to hide the veggies, but rather serve them in a way she would prefer. Sometimes that means having something else on the table that she likes and can eat between bites. Other times we reward with stickers or shovel it down while she watches her favourite Disney song clips or TV show.

So this recipe was created to get my daughter to eat her most despised vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli seem to be the most disliked. Green beans get choked on and leafy greens are picked out. Now when I prepare pasta or noodle dishes I try to steam the vegetables first and put them in at the last minute. That way they are soft enough but still retain their nutrients. The crunchy bread top is her reward between eating all her greeny mouthfuls. This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge.

This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge or just want to incorporate many vegetables into one dish. You can add or subtract depending on what you have or like to eat. If you like your cheese you can always add some grated pecorino, crumbled feta or your favourite vegan melting cheese before baking.

Continue reading “Veggie Pasta Bake with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce”

Spaghetti Squash with Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce

Just because your trying to skip gluten, grains or just want a more nutritionally dense meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Italian flavours. Spaghetti squash is an amazing vegetable that when roasted has an amazing stringy texture that can lend itself as a pasta substitute. I love big bold pasta sauces with wine. This sauce doesn’t take long to prepare and will go perfectly with any other pasta or substitute.

dsc01852

Spaghetti Squash with a Sun Dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through to them let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

dsc01849

Crazy for pasta at Spaghetti House

Recently we visited a restaurant I haven’t been to in a long time. The Spaghetti House Trattoria is a family-run Italian restaurant in Southbank. They were previously situated in West End, which is where we used to frequently visit them.

They offer a great selection of Italian fare, including bread, small share plates, pizza, pasta and main dishes. The dishes are a collection of regional favourites prepared very traditionally. Over the years we have tried many of their dishes and they never disappoint in taste and quality.

Over the past couple of years, they moved from Westend to Southbank on Little Stanley Street. The new location does feel a bit more formal than the previous one and is styled like a modern trattoria. From the polished floors, beautiful rustic table settings, lighting and gold framed mirrors, everything is perfectly elegant, yet cozy.

On the day we visited we were all really hungry and were craving pasta. We all ordered the thicker kinds of pasta with simple sauces. I had the Pappardelle Boscaiola, which had pancetta, porcini mushrooms and olives in a fresh tomato sauce. The fresh pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the sauce had a full depth of flavour. My companions had Pappardelle Carbonara and Fettuccini Ragu alla Bolognese. They were also very happy with their dishes. We all ordered the larger size plate, which were generous and very filling. If we ordered more food, I’m sure a small portion would have sufficed.

Continue reading “Crazy for pasta at Spaghetti House”

Tempting Italian Tempeh Recipes

Have you seen tempeh in the supermarket, heard of its wonderful health benefits but not known what to do with it? Or have you bought it, tried to cook it and vowed never again? That actually did happen to me the first time I tried it. But then after cooking it again using some trusty recipes I feel more comfortable cooking it.

All these recipes are Italian inspired, cooked in rich tomato sauces. I found this is my favourite way to cook tempeh, as it has a very meaty in texture but it needs strong flavours to make it tasty. Chickpea or Fava tempeh should also work for these recipes.

What’s your favourite way to cook tempeh?

Continue reading “Tempting Italian Tempeh Recipes”