As promised, today we experiment with a first for cookerycourses.co.uk – recipes! It seems strange that we write so much about the food industry, yet offer nothing in the way of healthy option eating. Or any type of cuisine you could just log on to our website and cook, for that matter.
Today, we’re going to start with a simple fusilli dish, which appeals to not only lovers of Italian food or those who like a quick snack with a bit of a bite, but also to vegetarians. In the same vein that Jermaine Jackson sang we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, you don’t necessarily need to eat meat to have a good meal. My experience is that you are much more satisfied when you do indulge in both, but hey-ho, each to their own.
For basic ingredients you need two large peppers, red, yellow or green; you’ll find most supermarkets sell them in a traffic-light pack, one of each; if you’ve got a death-wish or cast iron stomach, you could even use all three. For oil, virgin olive oil is best (obviously taking Jermaine at his word), of which you’ll need one tbsp.
If you want to go posh, opt for a couple of shallots or one large onion if you’re you’re going the diner route – whichever way, they need to be finely chopped. A clove of garlic is best nutritionally, but a level teaspoon of garlic powder will do for the recipe just as well; likewise, a teaspoon dried chillies, crushed is preferred, but a good teaspoon of chilli powder will suffice.
I’m sure half of these online food stores print recipes that incorporate exotic ingredients just so that people will buy more of their range (and part with more of their cash); often, a common alternative is just as effective and has little or no effect on the outcome of the flavour of the dish. Dare I say, even improves it, as our taste buds are more used to the common-or-garden ingredients.
100ml of vegetable stock is next, followed by 125gm of sun-dried tomatoes (for economy, these tend to be sold in 100gm containers, so a splodge (technical term) of tomato puree added will work out more cost effective. A couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar completes the mix, and then add the pasta of your choice – if we’re sticking to a fusilli dish, it had better be fusilli, but conchiglie is just as cool.
From thereon in, the method’s plain sailing. If you want the softish texture for the peppers, you can whack them in the oven on Gas Mark 8 for a half an hour and then peel the skin off when cooled or if you’re not that fussed, slice and dice into them into half-inch chunks and soften them in a frying pan with the oil, along with the shallots/onions as your first operation.
Pop a pan of water on for the pasta – at what point you put the fusilli/conchiglie in will depend upon what the instructions on the packet, but familiarise yourself with the rest of this recipe, liaise with the pasta instructions and coincide the two to finish simultaneously.
Once you’re happy with the texture of your vegetables, add the garlic and chilli with approximately a third of the stock and simmer for another five minutes. If you’ve roasted and peeled the peppers, now’s the time to put them in, as is it time for the sun-dried tomatoes and the balance of stock.
After they’ve been cooked for ten minutes, add the vinegar for about a minute, by which time it should all have reduced to a fine sauce mix.
If you’ve got it right, you can now drain the pasta and stir it in with the sauce mix and, hey-presto, you’re done in next to no time.
Based on sharing this meal between four, it will deliver approximately 500 calories, 12gm of sugars, less than 1gm of saturated from the 12gm of fat in all, which means there is plenty of good fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated) in there to help lower cholesterol and, despite popular misconception, increase your healthy fat intake, which is good for you! And finally, a serving contains only a quarter of a gram of salt, so is excellent for those conscious of healthy eating.
So there you go – our first recipe. Please, enjoy, share and give us some feedback. Happy days!