Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

In case you were wondering what I brought back from Switzerland, it was a bunch of cheese.


Seriously, there’s a pound of Gruyère in my fridge. As I type this post, I have to restrict myself from running to the kitchen to sneak a bite. Naturally, I would want to dump it all on top of my pasta and drown in the calorific goodness. That’s what this recipe is all about, it’s a comfy one pot winter meal. I chose to transfer my pasta into a baking dish just to make it easier to transfer to a friend’s house. You could make this all in one pot and save yourself the washing up!


If you’re looking to try out more pasta dishes, check out the Pasta category on the blog. A few of my favorites include this INSANE pasta sauce, this One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake and this Butternut Squash and Kale Ravioli




Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 300g uncooked tortellini (I used spinach + ricotta but you can use any of your choice)
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and if using a baking dish, grease lightly with some butter. Alternatively, you can bake the tortellini directly in the skillet, thus making it a one pot meal.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large cast iron pot and fry the onions on high heat until translucent. Add the basil, rosemary, basil and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the onions in the dried herbs. Throw in the minced garlic and toss with a wooden spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Throw in the tortellini and toss to coat in the sauce. Add the chopped spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted, remove from heat. If using a baking dish, transfer the tortellini and sauce to the baking dish. Top with the grated mozzarella and grated Gruyère.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling adn the cheese is a deep golden brown. Serve hot! If desired, top with some fresh basil and grated Parmesan. Throw in some crusty bread and white wine and you’ve got a winning dinner!
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Cosy One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

Yes I know, this one is a mouthful.

But hear me out about this one: it will be one of the most, if not the most delicious dinner you will have this year. And for the amount of effort that goes into it, it’s almost unbelievable how delectable it is.  


Everything gets thrown in one pot and left to simmer and in 30 minutes you have a winning dinner. This was my first attempt at homemade vegan cheese, and it could not have gone better. I’ve linked the recipe that I used below, I really think that it’s worth the effort! It’s simple, cashews are soaked overnight and then blended with nutritional yeast, garlic and fresh herbs. The texture is similar to that of a cream cheese dip, and the flavour is simply outstanding. 


I paired this with a sweet white wine; one of the perks about vegetarianism is not having to rely on the meat dish for the choice of wine. I’m sure there are several other nuances that go into this decision such as the amount of spice in the dish and the richness of the sauce but I’m going to go with what feels good. Sometimes food doesn’t have to have restrictions, its all about what makes your tummy happy. This dish definitely makes my tummy happy!



Cosy One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz can of tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 400g farfalle pasta, uncooked (you can substitute any other short pasta like tortellini, rigatoni, macaroni or fusilli)
  • ¼ cup spinach pesto, homemade or storebought
  • ¼ cup vegan ricotta (this is a good recipe)
  • Optional for serving: fresh basil, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, glass of white wine, crusty bread

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Fry the onions and mushrooms until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot. Stir to combine, making sure the tomato paste has dissolved, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta to the pot and stir well to ensure that the pasta is submerged in liquid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Stir the pot occasionally, if the pasta is not yet done and the sauce is close to burning then pour in ½ cup of vegetable stock or water. When the pasta is done, the sauce should be very thick.
  3. Drop tablespoons of spinach pesto and ricotta over the top of the pasta bake. Cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with some nutritional yeast and fresh basil. Leftovers will keep well if tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 4 days.

 

Thai Basil Cauliflower

Need an easy vegan dinner option? Look no further muchacho.

 It does not get easier with this one. Saute some veg, throw in a couple of spices, pour in the liquid and you’re done! Don’t let my meagre list of vegetables stop you, the sky is the limit! Throw in some mushrooms here, a leek there or some capiscum here. The only rule is to keep it colourful; that’s what makes this dish fun!

Whenever I’m feeling lazy or just having a bleh day, this dish comes to the rescue. My bed is only lonely for the 15 minutes that it takes to prepare this dish and come running back!

Thai Basil Cauliflower                                                                                    serves 2 

Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
  • 100g sugar snap peas
  • 200g cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or honey if not vegan)
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup Thai basil, chopped loosely
  • optional add ins: a squeeze of lime, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, crack of pepper

Method

  1. Heat a small saucepan on high heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry until the onion is soft and the garlic and ginger are very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
  2. Add the carrots, peas and cauliflower and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the soy sauce and fish sauce before adding the brown sugar. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook until reduced to a syrup, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the vegetable stock and throw in the Thai basil. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low and covering the pot with a lid. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced. Serve immediately on top of rice or noodles.

The Best Pasta Sauce

It’s really funny how this one came about.


At the end of last year, my dad brought home about 30 tomatoes. No joke, my kitchen was overflowing with this bright red fruit (vegetable?). I honestly feel uncomfortable calling a tomato a fruit, it just doesn’t feel right.


If you’ve read my post on this simple spinach and parmesan pesto, you’ll know that I love pasta from my head to-ma-toes. It’s honestly the best thing on this planet, next to chocolate of course. If there are two things that are meant to be together in this world, they are pasta and tomatoes. To be more specific, tomatoes that have been simmered for a couple of hours, with fresh fragrant herbs mixed in to give it that enticing aroma and I am going to stop before I drown in a pool of my own drool. Tomato sauce is okay, marinara sauce is great but this version is the best. After many weeks of tweaking and adjusting, I have finally come up with the variation of this sauce that I love the most.


Once made, don’t keep this to yourself, share it with others! I have a friend who brings pasta to school every single day for lunch. I have known him for 4 years now, and he’s still bringing pasta to school. No joke. Every day without fail, one of his parents will deliver a lunchbox with pasta to school. Just to mix things up a little, I decided to give him a jar full of this sauce to try out at home. I can confidently assure you that it received his stamp of approval and it’s the reason why you see this post up today. Shout out to all my pasta lovers out there.



The Best Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-8 medium fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (IN CASE OF EMERGENCY use 3×14 oz tinned tomatoes, but the taste won’t be nearly the same)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • a handful of fresh rosemary (may sub 2 tsp dried rosemary)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn (may sub 2 tsp dried basil)
  • a handful of fresh oregano (may sub 2 tsp dried oregano)

Method

Heat a heavy bottomed cast iron pot on high and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Fry the onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and herbs. Give the tomatoes a quick stir and season with salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down released their juices. If you’d like your sauce to be chunky, then great news, you’re all done! Store in a sterilised glass jar in the fridge for up to a month. If you’d like a smooth sauce then add the contents of the pot to a blender and puree for 2 minutes or until there are no longer any large tomato pieces before adding to a glass jar for storage. Use in pastas, as a base for pizza or as a sandwich spread (as my friend recently started doing). Enjoy!

 

Butternut Squash & Kale Ravioli

Homemade pasta is one of the most irresistible things on this planet- hands down.


And making homemade pasta is one of the most therapeutic activities on this planet. Don’t shoot me but I’d much rather spend an afternoon kneading soft pasta dough and rolling it out to the perfect thickness than at a loud music festival. Is that weird for an 18 year old girl?


So let’s get down to business. Start with the fresh pasta dough because that’s where most of your time is going to be devoted. This was my first time making vegan pasta dough and to be honest with you, it was incredibly soft and flexible despite the lack of proteins from the egg whites. Just for reference, I prepared fresh non-vegan pasta dough 2 days later just to remind myself of the differences. The non-vegan dough still proved to be softer than a Downy feather pillow but it was harder for me to get the non-vegan dough to the same thickness. So the’re essentially in pros and cons. They both make amazing bases for your pasta dishes so go with whichever you like.

The butternut squash is roasted to get the ultimate caramelisation, and if you haven’t tried it yet, get in your kitchen and combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle that all over your butternut squash! After 30 minutes in the oven the squash is fork tender and browned and oozing all kinds of flavour, it’s so lush. 

Butternut Squash & Kale Ravioli                                                                        serves 4 people 

Ingredients

For the ravioli:

  • 2 cups Italian 00 flour (if you can’t get it then any other kind of flour will work)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • some extra flour for dusting the work surface

For the filling:

  • ½ a medium butternut, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup kale, chopped (may substitute spinach or Swiss chard)
  • 2 cups boiling water

For serving:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, whole
  • a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs (optional)

Method

  1. Start by preparing the pasta. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt and toss lightly to combine. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together before removing to a floured surface and kneading. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticking to your hands/the surface then add a little bit more flour. If the dough is dry and falling apart then add water, 2 tbsp at a time until it holds together.
  2. Once the dough is smooth and feels elastic, roll it into a bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap and let rest 30 minutes. This will help the dough to become more flexible.
  3. Whilst the dough is resting, get started on the filling. Add the cubed butternut squash to a large bowl and top with the olive oil, brown sugar and all the spices. Toss to ensure the butternut is covered in the spices. Lay in a single layer on a roasting pan and roast at 200°C for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. In a medium saucepan, cover the chopped kale in the boiling water and let sit submerged for 5 minutes. Drain the kale in a colander and squeeze with your hands to get all the excess water out. Let the kale cool before you start squeezing because it will still be scorching hot from the water. Once drained, the kale will be about the size of a golfball.
  5. Once the butternut has cooled, add it to a small bowl and mash with a fork until no large lumps remain. Add the kale and mix until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  6. Once rested, split the pasta dough in half (I find it difficult to roll out all the dough at once, it’s easier if you split it in half but if you’re short on time then go ahead and roll all of it out at the same time). Cover one half in cling wrap, I find that the dough tends to dry out quickly if left exposed too long. Roll one half of the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 3-4 mm thick. If you have a pasta machine then just follow the instructions to get the pasta to this thickness.
  7. Use a cookie cutter, or a clean glass to cut circles (or squares if you wish) out of the dough. Collect any scraps and form into a ball. Repeat step 6 to roll it to 3mm thick and cut into more ravioli circles. Once you have all your ravioli shapes assembled, allocate half of them to be used for the bottom and the other half for the top.
  8. Grab about a teaspoon of the butternut kale filling you set aside aside earlier and lay it in the middle of a ravioli circle. Cover it with one of the ravioli circles that was allocated for the top and use a fork (or your hands if you wish) to seal the edges. Brush the top with a little bit of cold water just to help seal them. Repeat this step until you’ve used up all the ravioli circles. Then repeat steps 6-8 for the other half of pasta dough that you set aside. Now you have ravioli!*
  9. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Reduce the heat such that the water is at a gentle rolling boil. Cook the ravioli in the boiling water in batches for 10 minutes, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Stir occasionally to prevent the ravioli from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the water and drain on paper towels.
  10. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil along with the garlic, rosemary and mixed herbs until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cooked ravioli in batches to the pan and turn the pan gently to coat the ravioli in the mixture. Once warmed (takes less than 2 minutes) remove the ravioli to a pasta bowl and drizzle with the herbed olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

*At this point, the ravioli can be frozen and kept for a later date. Before cooking, defrost fully and follow the remaining steps to produce a perfect batch of ravioli!

One Pot Browned Butter Short Rib Ragu

#hastalapasta

I’m going through something that can only be described as a “Pasta Renaissance”. Or a Pastaissance if you please. I’m moving out of the dark ages, into the light known as a pile of hot spaghetti topped with savory meat sauce. You can say that my life is going pretty well right now.

The short ribs are slow cooked in a mixture of tomatoes, beef stock and herbs so you don’t have to be worried about spending all evening over the stove. I guarantee that it will be difficult to stay away from the kitchen as the tantalising aroma of garlic, basil, and browned butter fill your home. Slow cooking the beef ensures that is is perfectly tender, the kind of stuff that just melts in your mouth. The best part about this: you only have one pot to wash at the end of the day.


This meal is the perfect thing to come home to on a Friday night after a long week at work/school. Imaging a blazing fire in the hearth, a cold glass of beautifully dark Nederberg in your hand and a steaming pile of flavoursome meat. That, my friends is exactly what I have aimed to bring you this week. Eat, drink and be merry!

One Pot Browned Butter Ragu

Ingredients

For the beef:

3 pounds short ribs

3 tbsp all purpose flour

4 tbsp butter

For the sauce: 

1 medium yellow onion

½ small red onion

1 carrot

2 cloves garlic

14 oz can pomodoro tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

½ cup beef stock

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp chilli powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Salt and pepper both sides of the short ribs before dusting in the flour. Heat some oil in the bottom of a large cast iron pot and sear both sides of the beef on high heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove to a separate plate.
  2. In the same pot, melt the butter until brown and foamy and smells distinctly nutty. Pour the butter all over the short ribs.
  3. Add another swig of oil to the pot and add the red and yellow onion to the pot. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the carrots and cook until softened, another 2 minutes. Finally add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  4. Pour in the beef stock and the pomodoro tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes in the pot. Add the tomato paste followed by the basil, oregano, thyme, chilli powder and cinnamon. Stir to get all the ingredients nice and acquainted. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the seared short ribs on top of everything and spoon some of the sauce on top of it. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. After 3 hours have passed, remove the ribs from the pot and shred using 2 forks. Add the ribs back to the pot and cook for another hour.
  6. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve, prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain pasta and move to casserole dish. Take a few ladles of the beef ragù from the pot and stir into the pasta. When all the pasta is covered in sauce stop.
  7. To serve: lay the desired amount of saucy pasta on the plate. Top with a few spoonfuls of ragù, Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Serve immediately with a glass of red wine