Things I have learnt since returning home:
- I like the weather up here in Far North Queensland - sunny, hot even in winter, no breeze, warm sun.
- I miss heated towel racks - even though its not cold, I love wrapping myself up after hot showers in warm towels.
- Little kids grow up fast. My two little cousins have all grown up now - the youngest one is so tall and can talk in proper sentences! It's so scary how quick they grow up.
- My little town now has a sushi shop. My Dad and I went there today and I had an amazing prawn and avocado roll, and my Dad had a salmon roll. We are definitely going back there.
- All the tv shows that my Mum TiVo's are now back to where they were six months ago. I have seen one particular episode three times in the past year. I am so sick of reruns.
But onto this fabulous vegetarian pasta!
As I am writing this post, I am actually eating the leftovers from this meal - it was last nights dinner. If you don't like meat pasta, this is perfect for you. Full of fresh vegetables, in season all year around, most of which are probably in your fridge already. The vegetables aren't exactly expensive and it is an incredibly easy pasta to cook.
It is the first meal I have cooked for my family since I started the blog and actually learnt how to cook. It went over pretty well - my brother went back for seconds so it can't have been that bad!
Level of Difficulty: It’s relatively easy – it does involve a bit of chopping and stirring and the cooking time is full on.
Average Cost: $$ - there is a decent amount of ingredients here, but usually ones which are in your fridge or cupboard anyway.
Menu Options: You can alter the veggies based on what you have on hand. You can use less onion or garlic if you don’t like it. You can change the nuts you use – but flaked almonds are the best as they are thin and cook quickly.
What you need:
500 g pasta of your choice – I used wholemeal penne for me, regular spaghetti for the family. I personally prefer the taste of wholemeal pasta with these vegetables
4 tbsp butter
400 – 500 g mushrooms
3 tsp sea salt
1 large brown onion
2 tbsp crushed garlic – you can either use garlic from a bottle or use 3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 sprig of rosemary
3 – 4 medium tomatoes
2 tsp dried coriander
4 tbsp flaked almonds
1 cup spinach
2 tbsp lemon juice (or to your taste) – this can either be fresh or from a bottle
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
What to do:
Place the pasta in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Add a pinch or two of sea salt. Then lower heat and cook pasta until soft, or until you are happy with the texture. Stir frequently to avoid the pasta sticking together. This should take 20 – 30 minutes. I like my pasta soft, and I find wholemeal pasta takes longer to cook.
Over medium to high heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Chop the mushrooms finely and place them in the saucepan with the melted butter. Add the sea salt. Cook the mushrooms for approximately three – five minutes, or until they are starting to brown. You want the mushrooms to soak up most of the butter and salt.
Dice the onion finely, and add it to the pan. Add the rosemary. Cook, stirring the onion and mushroom mixture frequently, for approximately 10 minutes.
While the mixture is cooking, dice the zucchini and tomatoes very finely. Place the diced veggies in a bowl and toss with coriander. Add to the saucepan. Cook for approximately five minutes. At this stage the veggies should mostly be cooked – the mushrooms and onions should be soft, the tomato rather squishy (for lack of a better word) and the zucchini should be starting to soften.
Add the flaked almonds to the mixture. Cook for a few more minutes, until the almonds are slightly toasted and the veggies are soft.
While the almonds are toasting, chop the spinach finely.
If the veggies finish cooking before the pasta, take them off the heat. When the pasta is ready, drain the water from the saucepan and add the veggie mixture. Also add the chopped spinach, lemon juice, basil and oregano and toss. If necessary, add more lemon juice so the vegetables stick to the pasta.
Serve hot with parmesan cheese if desired. I recommend it, the parmesan adds a lovely kick to the pasta.