Tag Archives: pasta

Penne Funghi (and Hanukkah)

Hanukkah starts tomorrow, and many people know that Jews traditionally eat oily foods like doughnuts and potato latkes (a potato pancake made from grated potato and onion). I’m sure we will see many delicious recipes for latkes this week!

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks. Fried foods like potato pancakes (“latkas” in Yiddish and “livivot” in Hebrew) and doughnuts (“sufganiyot” in Hebrew) are traditional Hanukkah treats because they are cooked in oil and remind us of the miracle of the holiday. From: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Hanukkah-Food-Traditions.htm

Another tradition which I had completely forgotten about (until my sister reminded me at our Christmukka themed food club evening) is that Jews often eat dairy at Hanukkah.

Dairy foods did not become popular on Hanukkah until the Middle Ages. The custom of eating things like cheese, cheesecake and blintzes emerged from the story of Judith. According to legend, Judith was a great beauty who saved her village from the Babylonians. The Babylonian army was besieging her village, when Judith charmed her way into the enemy camp with a basket of cheese and wine. She brought the food to the enemy general, Holofernes, who consumed increasing amounts of wine along with the cheese. (According to the story, the cheese was very salty, hence making Holoferenes very thirsty.) When Holofernes eventually became drunk and passed out, Judith beheaded him with his sword and brought his head back to the village in her basket. When the Babylonians discovered that their leader had been slain, they left. In this way Judith saved her people and eventually it became traditional to eat dairy foods in honor of her bravery. From: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Hanukkah-Food-Traditions.htm

I personally think this tradition is all wrong and really we should be drinking more wine to remember Judith on Hanukkah! Oh well, there’s always Purim! (On the festival of Purim, Jews are supposed to get drunk.)

At Hanukkah, lots of Jews will eat their dairy in the form of cheesecake, or cottage cheese on their latkes, yum! Here is how I will be eating my dairy this year; it ties in with my pasta obsession and my love for savoury foods.

As you may have realised, I’m a big fan of easy, quick recipes. This is also a super simple and cheap recipe and works really well as part of a ‘pot luck’ dinner or buffet style lunch. And of course, it’s totally kosher. If you’re in a real rush you could get the pasta on as soon as the garlic is cooked. Make sure you give the mushrooms enough time to cook though. I personally don’t like half-cooked mushrooms as I think they can be a bit slimy that way and it gives them a bad reputation!

Penne Funghi

Takes: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
300g penne pasta (or your favourite pasta)
100g button mushrooms, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
25g butter
3 tbsps olive oil
3 tbsps soft cream cheese

salt & pepper

1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan on a low heat. When melted, add the garlic and about 2 minutes later, the mushrooms.

2. Soften the mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until they are all cooked and soft and covered in the garlicy butter. Then add the herbs, and some salt and pepper, stir and continue to cook on a low heat. If the sauce starts to dry out, add a little water.

3. In a separate pan, boil your pasta in the usual way for about 12 minutes or the time stated on the packet.

4. About 2 minutes before the pasta is ready add the cream cheese to the mushrooms and stir though until melted. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

5. As soon as your pasta is sieved, stir in the sauce and serve hot!

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I would like to, once again, enter this recipe to Pasta Presto Nights, hosted by Ruth. The next post PPN will be in 2012!

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Cherry Tomato and Aubergine Pasta


This is a super speedy, cheap and easy recipe. It is also a healthy vegetarian meal, involving two of my favourite vegetables, both from the same family (nightshade).

I just love tomatoes and you will always find them in my fridge, as well as tins in the cupboard. When we were kids, my sisters and I shared a children’s cookbook; we used to love making one of the recipes which involved cutting the top off a tomato, scooping out the inside and mixing it with cottage cheese, then putting it back in the tomato. It sounds pretty simple now but it was delicious and exciting when I was younger!

I also really like aubergines, but I’m a bit more picky about how they are cooked. Lots of recipes and websites recommend taking off the peel from larger aubergines as it can be bitter, but I actually prefer the peel to the inside. I don’t think I need to tell you how much I love pasta! I could eat it every day!

If you’re not a big fan of the aubergine, you could easily do this with sliced peppers or courgette instead.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can cook the tasty sauce in pretty much the same time as the pasta boils! Great if you’re in a rush but don’t feel like beans on toast!

Cherry Tomato and Aubergine Pasta

Start to finish time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
300g Cherry tomatoes (or a tin of cherry tomatoes), halved
100g Aubergine, small cubes
1 tsp tomato purée
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper

100g pasta per person

1. Boil plenty of water for the pasta.

2. Heat the oil in a separate pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry until it starts to golden, then add the aubergine. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the cherry tomatoes.

3. By now the water should be boiling, add some salt and then your pasta of choice. Turn down to a simmer and cook for the time stated on the packet, usually about 12 minutes.

4. Use those 12 minutes to add the remaining ingredients to the sauce: the paprika, basil, tomato purée and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat stirring occasionally. Water will come out of the veg, but if it starts to dry up add a bit of water. Taste the sauce now, and if it is a bit tart, add a pinch of sugar.

Serve with grated parmesan or your favourite cheese.

If you love tomatoes as much as me, check out my previously posted recipes:

Roasted Red Pepper and Cherry Tomato Soup
Tuscan Style Spicy Tomato Soup with a Poached Egg
Mozzarella and Pesto Puff pastry Squares
Bloody Mary Cocktail

I’m finally getting involved with Presto Pasta Nights, this week hosted by HoneyB at The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s HoneyBunch! Check it out on Friday for the round up of lovely pasta recipes.