Category Archives: Pasta

Twist on a classic

This is a pescetarian twist on the comforting classic carbonara classic recipe. The traditional carbonara generally consists of eggs, cheese, bacon (or similar) and black pepper. I’m not sure what it is about the creamy richness of the sauce, smokiness from the fish combined with the zesty tang from the lemon, but this is my ultimate (savoury) comfort food.

When adding the lemon juice to your cream and egg mixture, add a little juice at a time and stir as you go to combine and prevent curdling (and don’t try and add cream to lemon juice or you really will end up with a mess).

I used hot smoked trout which has a texture similar to cooked fish, but with the delicious smokey flavour.  You could also use regular smoked trout or smoked salmon to similar effect. This is to substitute for the bacon flavour in the original carbonara recipe.

Regarding your herbs, feel free to experiment. I used lemon thyme and tarragon because that is what I happened to have growing and both go well with seafood. I added the spinach in a feeble attempt to inject some healthiness into the recipe.

I love the slurpiness of spaghetti, but feel free to use your favourite pasta.

What I was cooking this time last year: Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup

Creamy trout pasta

* This recipe was adapted from a Lemon Linguine recipe in “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson. I have modified and adapted it over the years to come up with the below reincarnation.

Serves 2


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150mls cream
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (I used lemon thyme and tarragon)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 100g hot smoked trout
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • salt and plenty of black pepper
  • Pasta for 2
  • parmesan cheese, to serve


  • Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil to cook your pasta.
  • Finely chop the spring onions and crush the garlic.
  • Heat the olive oil in another saucepan over a low heat and add the garlic and chopped spring onions.

Garlic and spring onions

  • In a measuring jug add the cream and egg yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Cream pepper herbs

  • Zest the lemon and add to the cream mixture.
  • Juice the lemon and add a little juice at a time, stirring to combine.
  • Add the cream mixture and herbs to the garlic and onions and stir to combine.
  • Put your pasta on to cook in the boiling salted water.
  • Flake the trout and add to the cream sauce, stir to combine.

Trout cream sauce

  • Add the baby spinach and stir to combine and wilt the spinach.

Baby spinach

  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the cream sauce.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Serve, garnished with parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Creamy trout pasta

What is your favourite pasta dish? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


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Filed under Cheese, Lemon, Pasta, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

Celebrating the last of summer vegetables

With my New Year resolution to lead a wholesome life well and truly broken, I thought it was time I spent some time at the healthy end of the cooking spectrum. The warm weather is continuing to hang around in Sydney at the moment, and the last of the summer veggies are still plentiful and delicious.

If you are getting a bit sick of pasta, try risotto as an alternative. This is one of my favourite recipes, and can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes or what you have available in the cupboards and fridge. If you don’t like chilli, leave it out; if you’re coming down with a bug, pimp up the garlic; if you have some fresh tomatoes to use up, throw them in; if it is the middle of winter or you simply haven’t been shopping and tinned tomatoes or dried herbs are all you have access to, throw them in.

If capsicums are a good price at your green grocer, they are easy to roast; refer to one of my earlier posts for instructions on how to roast capsicums. If capsicums are out of season or too pricey, there are plenty of pre-prepared roast capsicums (sometimes labeled as roast peppers) you can buy from your deli counter or in a jar.

I prefer to use large mushrooms (called portobello mushrooms in the UK) rather than the small button mushrooms, as the large mushrooms have more flavour. If you want an extra rich risotto, you could add a little pesto or olive tapenade at the end of the cooking instead of, or as well as, the cheese.

I tend to eat this risotto with my favourite piece of cutlery, the  splayd. A splayd is part fork, part spoon.

Summer vegetables

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Serves 2


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 an onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small chillies
  • 1/2 cup of arborio rice
  • 250ml carton of V8 vegetable juice
  • 1 large mushroom
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roast capsicum
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • hot water from the kettle
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Finely chop the shallot.
  • Finely chop or crush the garlic.
  • Finely chop the chillies.
  • Chop the mushroom into dice size pieces.
  • Heat the pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil, the chopped shallot, garlic, chilli and rice.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the rice is coated in oil and the onions are slightly softened.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until the mushrooms start to wilt.

Mushroom risotto

  • Add the vegetable juice to the fry pan and stir occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, grate the zucchini, chop the roast capsicum, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and pick the oregano leaves from the stem.
  • Add a little hot water at a time to the fry pan and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost cooked. Taste to test the rice, it should be slightly too firm but almost ready.

Spring Vegetable Risotto

  • Add the zucchini, roast capsicum, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and oregano to the fry pan, continue cooking until the vegetables wilt and the rice is cooked, then turn off the heat.
  • Add the cheese and stir to combine.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Your risotto is ready to serve. Enjoy.

Vegetable risotto splade

What is your favourite risotto recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Capsicum, Herbs, Pasta, Recipes, Rice, Savoury, Vegetarian, Zucchini

Hey pesto

Last Saturday morning I discovered a new farmers market at Bondi Public School (5 Wellington Street  Bondi NSW 2026). It was only the second week the market had been running, so there wasn’t a heap of stalls competing for attention, but the stalls that were there had excellent produce. There were fresh pastas, a mushroom guy, cherries, a few fruit and veggie stalls and a very reasonably priced flower and potted herbs stall. I hope it continues to grow in popularity and more stalls are attracted along. I couldn’t walk past the enormous bunches of basil being sold by one of the stalls, with roots intact. I love the smell of a fresh bunch of basil, and it inspired me to make a batch of pesto.


There are unlimited variations on the pesto theme, I have made a pistachio and lemon pesto, but you could substitute walnut oil and walnuts, or any other flavoured oils, nuts or herbs to come up with new twists on the classic.

You will never want to reach for the supermarket shelf version after you make your own pesto and see how easy and delicious it is. I tip with pesto that I have found very handy, is that it freezes really well, so when basil is at a good price I make a large batch and freeze any leftovers I’m not using straight away in small containers, ready to defrost and use as needed in the future. If you don’t have a food processor, you could use a pestle and mortar or even finely chop the ingredients minus the oils, then add to the oils.

If you are not sure what to do with your pesto once you have made it, the options are enormous, some examples that spring to mind include tossing it through pasta, added in a sandwich, mixed in with scrambled eggs or used to make a potato salad.

Pistachio and Lemon Pesto


  • 50g shelled pistachios
  • 1 large bunch of basil
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of pistachio oil
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon infused olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon


  • Heat oven to 180°C and toast your pistachios for 10 minutes.
  • Allow the pistachios to cool.
  • Pick your basil leaves and add to your food processor bowl (don’t worry if some of the younger tender stalks make their way into the bowl).

Pistachios and basil

  • Add the pistachios, garlic, parmesan, pistachio oil, lemon olive oil, lemon juice and zest to the food processor bowl.
  • Blitz the food processor until everything is just combined. Your pesto is ready to use or transfer to containers for later use. Enjoy.

Pistachio and Lemon Pesto

What is your favourite use for herbs? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Cheese, Dip, Lemon, Pasta, Pistachio, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian

Pumpkin cannelloni

Cannelloni and lasagna are both wonderful dishes for the colder weather. Given the multiple steps and work involved, it is almost as easy to make two as it is to make one, and with the extra you can either surprise friends or family with the prep work done or pop one in the freezer for another time.

You will probably have extra cannelloni tubes left over from two packets, but one packet is not enough to use up all of the filling. Depending on the size of your trays, you may even be able to make a couple of individual serving versions from the recipe below.

The pine nuts will continue to cook once removed from the heat because of their high oil content, so don’t let them get too much colour on them when frying. I haven’t added salt because the high ratio of cheese adds saltiness.

Pumpkin Cannelloni


  • 1kg pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried chilli
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 500g feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 50g butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon mustard [smooth not seeded]
  • 1 litre milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 100g grated parmesan
  • 200g grated tasty cheese
  • 2 x 350g jars tomato based pasta sauce or 2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 250g packets cannelloni tubes
  • 250g mozzarella cheese


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Peel the pumpkin or squash, cut in half, scoop out any seeds and stringy insides. Chop into pieces, approximately 2cm cubes. Add chopped cubes to a baking tray.
  3. Finely chop red onion & garlic, and add to baking tray with the pumpkin or squash.
  4. Drizzle vegetables in the baking tray with 2 tablespoons olive oil and dried chilli, toss to coat.
  5. Bake in oven until pumpkin or squash is soft and cooked through, approximately 1 hour. You should check on the vegetables at regular intervals and give them a stir to encourage them to cook evenly.
  6. Meanwhile heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and fry the pine nuts until lightly golden. Remove from heat.
  7. Once pumpkin is cooked, allow to cool, mash slightly, add the fried pine nuts, crumbled feta, nutmeg, chopped rosemary and mix to combine.
  8. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mustard and cook for a couple of minutes.
  9. Add a little milk to the flour & butter mixture, and continue adding milk slowly to incorporate without getting lumps. If you do happen to get lumps use a whisk to combine the ingredients.
  10. Add the bay leaves, and heat the sauce mix, stirring constantly over a medium heat with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. This does require patience. The sauce is ready to remove from the heat if you can run a finger along the back of the wooden spoon to draw a line, and the line remains on the spoon.
  11. Remove the sauce from the heat, remove the bay leaves and add the grated parmesan and tasty cheese. Stir until combined, the heat should be enough to melt the cheese.
  12. Stir the cheese sauce every now and then while you are assembling to prevent a skin forming on the top of the sauce.
  13. You are now ready to assemble. Place tomato sauce in the bottom of 2 baking dishes.
  14. Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the pumpkin mixture, and place in a single layer in the baking trays on top of the tomato sauce.
  15. Once the trays are full, poor cheese sauce over the cannelloni tubes to cover and sprinkle the tops with mozzarella.
  16. You can either cook a tray of cannelloni in a 180 degrees celsius oven for 45 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the top is golden brown, or refrigerate or freeze to cook later. Enjoy.

What favourite pasta recipes do you like to make on a regular basis? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


Filed under Cheese, Pasta, Pumpkin, Savoury, Vegetarian

Pasta pronto

Pasta makes a fairly regular appearance at my place for meals, but I do tend to get bored with tomato-based pasta sauces. This weeks’ recipe offers an alternative, it is also extremely quick and easy to make.

I have a lemon addiction, and can’t seem to cram enough lemon zestiness into my recipes. I know that this may not be to everybody’s taste, so feel free to start off conservatively and skip using the zest, only using the juice. If I am using just the juice of a lemon for something, I still tend to zest the rind before juicing, and freeze the zest in a small container for later – it is handy to have on standby to add to drinks or use as a garnish for dishes. I do have a zester gadget that produces long strips of zest, or you can use your humble grater [the fine grater section] to remove the rind. Only use the yellow part of the skin, as this is where the flavour is, avoid using the bitter white pith underneath.

Feel free to experiment with different types of herbs, adding some prawns, fresh diced tomato or grated zucchini to create your own twists on this base recipe.

It is up to you if you want to use fresh pasta or pasta from the pantry for this recipe – any sort of pasta will work well, but I like using spaghetti for this recipe.

Pasta Pronto

Serves 2


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 heaped teaspoons capers [drained if in brine, or washed, if the salted variety]
  • 3 anchovy filets, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped [remove seeds if you don’t want it too spicy]
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon [if this is too lemony for you, use just the juice]
  • ½ a bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves [lemon thyme is even better if you can find it]
  • 2 serves of pasta
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste


  1. Place a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. In a saucepan heat the olive oil over low heat, and add the anchovies, garlic, chilli and capers.
  3. Add the pasta to your boiling water and cook according to the pasta instructions.
  4. Cook the oil mix until the garlic is light brown and has infused the oil, then turn off the heat. Add the lemon zest and juice and chopped parsley to the saucepan and leave to the side until the pasta is ready.
  5. Before draining your cooked pasta, reserve a cup of the cooking water in case you want to thin out the sauce later on.
  6. Drain the pasta and add to the infused oil mixture, stir to coat pasta in the sauce. Add some of the cooking water if there is not enough sauce to coat the pasta.
  7. Transfer to bowls and add parmesan cheese to taste. Enjoy.

What favourite pasta recipes do you like to make on a regular basis? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


Filed under Lemon, Pasta, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood