Pastas are my absolute “to-go-tos” whenever I need a quick lunch. I think that is the same for many of us. I love doing Asian fusion pastas, incorporating elements of the traditional Asian cooking into the traditional Italian dish. But once in a while, I like to go back to the neopolitan classics and whip up simple recipes of cabonara, alfredo, ragu etc. The simplest of them all must surely be the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. So fast to prepare and accompanied with fresh seafood which takes just seconds to cook, it makes probably the most gratifying meal cooked in less than 15 minutes!
I made and blogged about my “Pulled Beef Rendang Pasta” two years back, a good way to enjoy a pot of rendang besides the traditional way of eating with rice or even ketupat. But when one craves for a plate of rendang pasta, one can’t wait for a good day or two for the rendang to mature sufficiently yeah? So here comes the solution… Spaghetti Rendang Bolognese!
I’d done a number of fusion pastas in the past, marrying the famous Italian dish with Asian elements like mentaiko, pulled beef rendang and even laksa pesto. Then again, a school of thought believes that Italian pasta originated from China when Marco Polo travelled to more than half a millenium ago and brought it all the way back to the boot-shaped peninsula, making the noodle’s beginnings Asian in actuality! But others argued that that Marco Polo’s fabled travels to the Far East was nothing but an incredible tale and didn’t really happen. Well, I’m not about to open a can of worms here to debate the origins of pasta but whichever the case is, fusion pastas work well which is the only important thing here!
I was enjoying Tom Yum Goong just yesterday and with a small selection of other Thai dishes and just as I was thinking of cooking the remnant soup with some khanom jeen, an online pasta cooking and sharing event quickly initiated a change of plans and made me create this fusion pasta instead. Lead entirely by instincts, the recipe was forged within minutes, not wanting something too complex and elaborated. Pasta dishes are afterall meant to be quick meals with ease and simplicity being the main cause. Thankfully, the recipe worked reasonably well, though not without room for improvement of course. I’ll revisit it again when time permits me but for now, allow me to indulge in the 2015 version of tom yum goong pasta. Ideas and brain-storming from like-minded foodies for future renditions are more than welcome!
I love salads because they are such quick and fuss-free meals which are extremely versatile and virtually effortless to make. Given the right melange of components and ingredients, they can also be visually stunning and most certainly help to work up one’s appetite and get those salivary glands raging. That is when you’ll realise that a salad alone may just not be enough. *chuckles*
The other important thing about salads for me, is how they epitomise one of the doctrines of what good food should be, freshness. When the ingredients are crisp and just off the vine, very little needs to be done to tease out all those wonderful flavours and aroma which Mother Nature has put into nurturing them, be it fruit or vegetables. They will sing their own song, with lyrics which speaks of their innate sweetness which make all other condiments redundant. The other thing I love about salads, is how they could easy be assembled using the produce of the season. Midsummer August now and many stone fruits and other exotic varieties are in season. For me, the real treat are figs, especially Black Mission figs. I’d used them in Hidemi Sugino’s Tartlette aux Figues before and they were absolutely lovely. This time round its a red simple Fig and Halloumi Salad, a taste of the Mediterranean summer.
I’m usually not a big fan of fusion food. Call me archaic but I prefer to keep the flavours of the dishes I prepare “clean” and true to their roots and origins. French is kept as French as possible while Chinese remains distinctively Chinese. Save for a few exceptions in pastry making, crossovers ain’t exactly my thing. That said, the devil’s advocate in me would sprout the occasional what ifs, curious what the dish would be like when it is totally taken out of context or juxtapose with another cooking genre. And of late, these previously occasional episodes of what ifs are beginning to haunt me more frequently.
Yet another lazy man’s pasta recipe to share and if I may say, a rather ad hoc one. That’s one thing I love about having pasta for meals. It really depends on what is available and what is good in my fridge. Linguiça is basically Portuguese spicy pork sausages. Heat comes from paprika used in its curing process and that I love. In some ways, it likens the Italian pepperoni but yet the flavours are quite distinctively different.
Lunch at home alone is usually very simple fanfare. One-pot meals are even too much of a hassle and takes too much time sometimes so its usually down to a simple fried rice or noodle dish with pantry or freezer available ingredients. Pasta is one of my all-time favorite options, effortless to prepare and require almost no time at all. And on today’s lunch menu, Linguini con Salsiccia e Porcini Balsamico… a very long name for an extremely simple dish 🙂
Having made a rustic bread like the focaccia, I needed a stew to go along with it. A simple italian fare like Pollo alla Cacciatora couldn’t have been a more apt choice.
When it comes to breads, I’d always have a bias for crusty breads to the spongy soft ones. Not that I don’t like the latter of course. Just that to me, the hearty and somewhat earthy qualities, together with the robust textures of a rustic bread have some kinda appeal which soft loaves lack. Its like an entirely different animal together. And of course, the major plus point for a soup and stew lover like me, is how well these breads go with the liquids, lapping up the flavours with ease and soaking in all the goodness with great relish!
Focaccia is one of those rustic breads which has so much character on its own, exuding the heady perfumes of rosemary and garlic infused olive oil. And what more, its a simple and fuss-free bread to make. And here’s a very forgiving recipe for all who are interested to try!