Tag Archives: olive oil

Butternut squash risotto

This is a much more basic recipe than the others I’ve been playing with, but it was really nice so I’ll include it anyway.

Vegetarian risotto has a danger of being a bit boring. The butternut squash in this offsets that nicely without adding a lot of work, making for a really nice easy dish. This follows a similar recipe in the reader’s digest “Pumpkins and squashes” cookbook.

What I used:

A cup and a half of risotto rice
Half a butternut squash
Two small red onions
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
One kallo organic vegetable stock cube
Boiling water
Olive oil

What I did:

Pretty much what you’d expect. Diced the onions, fried them in olive oil. Peeled the squash and chopped it up into cm cubes then added it to the onions along with the thyme. After a few minutes more I added the rice, stirred for a bit longer and then cover with vegetable stock and boiling water. I let the water cook off and topped it up once or twice until the risotto and the squash were both well cooked and slightly glooy.

Conclusion:

This was actually really nice. I’m sure a lot of this was that I used a good stock for it, but the combination of the risotto flavour and the butternut squash was a definite winner. The fact that this was unbelievably easy to make was a definite point in its favour as well. I’ll absolutely be making this one again. I served it with a mushroom omelette for added flavour and protein, and there were enough leftovers to have the risotto for lunch the next day as well.

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Fried Pasta

I’m notorious for not wanting to cook pasta; It feels like cheating to me. I suspect this is a hangup from my student days and not wanting to conform to the stereotype. So I’m rather glad to try new pasta recipes which are weird enough for me to consider actually using.

This is loosely based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver from his new Italy book (Rather, the free extracts from it that were being given out in the Guardian). There are two main reasons it’s only loosely based on the original recipe: Firstly, the original makes heavy use of parmesan and I don’t do dairy products. Secondly, I lost the recipe halfway through cooking.

What I used:

A handful of linguini
3 eggs
Lots of olive oil
About 1 tbsp flour
Dried chilli
Dried oregano
Dried thyme
Salt
Some sun dried tomatoes which I had previously soaked and stored in a mixture of olive oil, sunflower oil and white wine vinegar.

What I did:

I cooked the linguini just short of the instructions on the packet. While this was happening I chopped up the sun dried tomatoes and then added everything else to a mixer bowl and turned on the mixer (what can I say, I’m lazy). Everything else did include quite a lot of olive oil (I was stupid and forgot that if you add flour to liquid then it goes lumpy, so I used the olive oil and some heavy duty mixing to break up the lumps and smooth it out). Once the pasta was cooked I added that to the mixer as well and mixed it for a bit longer. I then cut it up slightly with a knife (just breaking some of the pieces in half really).

I then heated more olive oil in a pan and added about a handful of the mixture to it and fried it until it was reasonably cooked, turning it over several times as it cooked. The first two didn’t really get enough of the batter, so they ended up a bit crappy. The second two did and were fairly nice.

Conclusion:

I’d say this was a qualified success. The batter didn’t properly coat the linguini, which is why the first two didn’t work very well. It could possibly use a bit less liquid and a bit more flour next time. Jamie Oliver suggests only using the yolk from the third egg. That sounded like far too much work to me, so I didn’t bother. In future I probably still won’t bother, but it might be worth trying. Further, it was a bit too oily. This was my own silly fault for using so much olive oil in the batter – it didn’t really need that much liquid, and a bit of water would work to substitute for most of it.

It might be worth breaking the linguini in half before cooking: The length of the noodles made it difficult to get decent sized quantities out of the bowl and into the frying pan. Other things I might try adding to the mix include chopped olives and fried onions. There are few savoury recipes that can’t be made better with onions. If you do eat dairy and want to try this recipe, I’d probably recommend adding up to a handful of parmesan to the batter. I suspect it would improve it a lot.

These problems aside, it was delicious, though it did need salt and pepper added. The chilli gave it a nice bite, while the herbs combined well with the flavours of the tomatoes, egg and pasta. I probably wouldn’t make this as a regular meal, but it’s definitely a nice snack food.

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