How to cook spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli

delia-spaghetti-olive-oil

The second recipe I cooked for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli. Now if you look closely at the photo you may think that’s a lot of chilli, but actually since I’m allergic (well, intolerant) to chilli I used capsicum instead.

I’ve cooked pasta plenty of times before but I read Delia’s instructions and followed them as closely as I could. One thing I have stopped doing is salting the water, as we doesn’t like much salt in our diet. But in this instance I did and didn’t really notice any difference. I made enough pasta for one for lunch today. I got garlic all over my fingers, but I don’t mind the smell.

I was tempted to test the pasta by seeing if it would stick to the wall when it was al dente, but I’ve recently cleaned the tiles above the stove top so I gave it a miss. I don’t want to clean them again so soon! Anyhow, Delia says the “only real way to tell is to taste it.”

So that I only had one pan to clean up I slightly deviated from Delia’s instructions. I cooked the pasta first and then made the sauce in the same saucepan, while the pasta drained in the sink.

I love Delia’s instructions on how to eat spaghetti and other long pasta. I pretty much do what she suggests, but the olive oil dripped down my chin! Sometimes I like to use a fork to twirl the pasta around on the bottom of a spoon. I think it’s authentic, but perhaps that’s a myth.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

Beetroot spaghetti

beetroot-pasta

This vibrant red dish of spaghetti is dyed from the freshly roasted beetroot. The leaves have been included as well, and they are nearly as good as kale chips. Try them and see if you are convert like us.

Even though the roasting takes awhile, it really is a easy dish to prepare. But please promise me you won’t use tinned beetroot, because that won’t do at all here. We were lucky to have some beetroot fresh from the garden.

Beetroot spaghetti recipe

2 roasted beetroot, with leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp capers
spaghetti for two people
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

  1. Roast the beetroot in the oven with leaves. Cut into bite size pieces
  2. Cook spaghetti as per instructions on the back of the packet.
  3. Drain pasta. Cook the garlic for 2 to 3 minutes and then add capers in the pan. Stir through the beetroot and spaghetti. Squeeze over lemon juice.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

Best recipe: Tagliatelle with ragu (spaghetti bolognese)

Spaghetti bolognese is a favourite dinner time meal loved throughout the world. It can be a simple as browning the mince and adding some bottled sauce, but just once try this traditional version. Trust me, it’s the best.

Italy’s most loved but misinterpreted dish has to be tagliatelle al ragu. When it left Italy’s shores it somehow become spaghetti bolognese. The real bolognese dish is made by tossing a little rich, slow-cooked ragu (a meat sauce, usually veal and pork) through fresh egg noodles.

There’s a number of tricks to an outstanding ragu sauce. First you really need to let it simmer for a good 3 hours to allow all the flavours to meld together and fill your house with divine smells. A dash of milk  is added to the ragu sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and wine. It’s worth using good quality mince, wine and stock.

60g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped or grated
90g pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
220g minced ground veal or beef
220g minced ground pork
2 sprigs of oregano, chopped or 1/4 tsp dried oregano
pinch of nutmeg
½ cup dry white wine
3/4 cup milk, or soy milk
400g tin chopped tomatoes or fresh
250ml beef stock
400g tagliatelle
grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion, celery, carrot and pancetta. Cook over a moderate heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  2. Add the minced beef, pork and oregano to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mince has browned slightly.
  3. Pour in the wine, increase the heat and boil over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed. Stir in the milk and reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomato and half the stock, partially cover the pan and leave to simmer gently over very low heat for 3 hours. Add more of the stock as it is needed to keep the sauce moist.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the tageliatelle, toss with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.

Serves 4.

Variation: These aren’t traditional variations, but if you’d like the meal to go further add a can of beans. You could also add any extra vegetables (grated) that you might have in the fridge or the garden.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

No dig gardening

When we first started gardening my heart sank after I discovered the soil was full of weeds, and all sorts of different odds and ends. We decided the best solution would be to have a raised bed, filled with no dig ingredients and organic soil.

After researching all the options, we were pleased to discover Birdies Ezy Veggie Beds . We ruled out wood because we have had termites. Treated wood can leach and is not considered organic. Birdies Veggie Beds are made from colourbond corrugated steel and have a rubber edge. We ordered 4 of the 400mm x 3m x 1.5m. (I’d recommend something a little less wider as it’s a little hard to reach the centre of the bed.)

In Australia, we like to claim that Esther Dean came up with the no-dig method (aka lasagna method) in the 1970s. It’s kind of like the way we have claimed inventing Pavlovas (actually it was the New Zealanders). Mind you, she liked to experiment with different gardening techniques and then monitor the effects (like a true scientist). Low and behold, she’s still alive and turned 97 in October last year!

I would shake my head at any one who claims that no dig is minimum effort. Setting it up was such a big job that it took us over a month to get all four vegetable beds prepared. The hardest bit was digging up the pawpaw tree, and then moving the organic soil from the grass where it was delivered to the beds. It was humid hot and sweaty physical hard work.

Actually our beds are less lasagna method and more spaghetti bolognese. Let me explain:

The bottom half of each vegetable bed was made up of the following layers spread evenly:

  • 1 bag of sugar cane
  • 2 handfuls per square metre of blood and bone, and rock minerals
  • 1 bag of sugar cane
  • 2 bags of cow manure
  • ½ bag Lucerne
  • 2 handfuls per square metre of blood and bone, and rock minerals
  • 1 bag of sugar cane
  • 2 handfuls per square metre of blood and bone, and rock minerals
  • ½ bag Lucerne
  • 2 bags of cow manure
  • 1 bag of sugar cane

The top half of the beds were then covered in organic soil that we purchased from a landscaping centre. We also added organic soil between some of the layers above.

The spag bolg method has all the advantages of the no dig method, but using organic soil to bulk it up helped reduce costs.

A few other tips:

  • When planning where to place the beds don’t forget to add enough space around them for approximately one metre wide footpath. Consider mulching this area to discourage grass and weeds.
  • If placing the beds on lawn, place ten pages plus of wet newspaper down first to suppress the grass and weeds. Sprinkle on a few handfuls of blood and bone.
  • Most vegetables have small root system, so you only need 40cm deep of decent soil. If you are using higher beds you can fill the remaining bottom layer with clean sand, hay bales or general garden waste (minus grass seeds).
  • Alternate layers between wet (manure) and dry (sugar cane, hay, straw).
  • Blood and bone helps to activate the composting process.
  • Water each layer thoroughly.
  • You can wait several weeks for the material to start composting before planting. Alternatively, plant seeds in handfuls of compost to start planting straight away.
  • You’ll need to top up the beds each growing season with lucerne, compost and/or manure.

Now the beds have been set up, we haven’t done any digging and fingers crossed that’s most of the hard work done.