Two tasty vegetarian Italian Dishes, leaf shaped pasta easy recipe
Welcome to the kitchen
Hi there, come in and join Fabio and myself for another cooking evening. We regularly get together and do some cooking and lots of chatting; Fabio originates from the beautiful region of Italy called Tuscany whilst I come from Yorkshire; equally as beautiful but not as sunny.
We decided it was time to try a vegetarian dish or two, slight problem neither of us particularly enjoy vegetables. So the next best thing was something with cheese, so Fabio brought some rather unusual pasta for us to try.
Four Cheese pasta
So here we go a four cheese spighe pasta bake. Spighe is unusual in that it is shaped like a leaf or some say small tree. It is great for this type of dish because all the little holes fill up with sauce.
I peeled and chopped an onion and some garlic ready to fry. I use smoked garlic, it has a great fragrance and sort of sets the scene.
Fabio was in charge of the cheeses, we decided to use a mixture to give a little more flavour to the final dish. So he grated;
2oz blue stilton
2oz Monterey Jack
2oz strong Cornish, you can use any Cheddar style cheese
These are approximate weights and to be honest Fabio was so busy talking he didn’t take much notice of what he was doing. You also need a little cheese grated for the topping which will put a nice crust on the bake.
when you've gratted your cheese, add a little corn flour to it, this prevents it clogging and will give you cheese sauces a creamy texture.
Four delicious cheeses
How to cook your pasta
Put the pasta in a saucepan and add water, just enough to cover the pasta. Bring to the boil and then let it simmer for ten minutes, don’t fully cook it, it needs to be firm.
Fry the onion and garlic until almost transparent, add two tablespoons of corn flour and stir in some of the water from your pasta to make a roux keep stirring and now add your cheeses.
Keep stirring as they melt, until they turn into a thick creamy gravy. Now add your herbs;
Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, Basil, Tarragon, Black Pepper, and for a real flavour kick we added some dried Lavender . Honest it does work with lavender.
The origins of pasta
I had a real argument one time with Fabio over the origins of pasta which he said was definitely an Italian idea; of course he was wrong as usual because in actual fact it came from China via the Arabs to Sicily and then Italy probably long before the Roman Empire. It was not until the 1400’s in Naples before dies were designed to extrude the dough to make some of the modern shapes.
Originally it was eaten dry usually from street vendors until in about 1840 when the first tomato recipe was documented. It was desperation that drove people at first to eat tomatoes, because they were thought to be poisonous. When they were first brought from the New World it was realised that they belonged to nightshade family. The Italian for tomato is pomi d’oro , golden apple but they were still only grown as a houseplant and not for food.
It was an artisan food until in 1824 in northern Italy, the first industrial pasta factory was established by the Agnese family. In November 1827, Giulia Buitoni, a widowed mother of five children, started another pasta factory nearby.
After that as they say the rest is history, pasta became loved and enjoyed all over the western world.
Okay sorry I forgot about the recipe; so now pour the mix into an oven proof casserole dish and sprinkle on top a layer of cheese. I also sprinkled on a fine dusting of ‘sweet paprika’ to give it colour and taste. Don’t forget that how a meal looks is almost as important as how it tastes, you’ve given your time to this dish so make it look worthy of your effort.
Cook gm5 for 20mins and then gm7 for ten minutes to put a golden top to the bake.
Serve with salad.
Another super idea
The second dish we decided on was a Cannellini bean Bolognese. This dish is a filling and hearty recipe even for us meat eaters, serve with some nice home made bread.
1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
2 onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1tbs of cider vinegar, 1tbs of balsamic vinegar.
Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, Basil, Tarragon, Black Pepper.
1 tin of cannellini beans.
A few mushrooms chopped quite small.
Corn flour for thickening.
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Fry the onions first, when they are turning transparent, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Now add 2 tbs of corn flour, add the juice from the tomatoes and a little water; mix to a creamy roux add the beans and then the vinegar and finally the herbs stir well and cook for twenty minutes on a low heat.
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sprinkle a little grated cheese on top and serve with love.
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