I haven’t been in the best of moods lately. I am working from home, which I hate. I don’t reap any financial benefits from my start-up business, which I hate even more. When mixing a depressed state of mind with a lack of funding, you end up with one desperate cook turning to desperate culinary measures and a bleak prospect for meal time. I may have said it in the past, and I will say it again. When I am down, the first thing to drop is my motivation to cook. At the same time, I turn to soul-enriching comfort food to make me feel a tad better. Cooking meals will encompass the most simplest of  recipes with the cheapest of ingredients. Given that pasta is one of my all time comfort foods, and more importantly, that it is easy to make, most of my lunchtime meals consist of pasta dishes with sauces made from larder ingredients. Comfort: check. Easy: check. Tasty: check. Healthy: ok, not check. But remember, it is lunch!

In this post, I share with you two of my all-time favourite Minx-original pasta dishes. Yes, these I made up myself. However, before I move ahead with two of my most favourite pasta dishes, I need to set a few pasta rules out (inspired by an old Italian university flat mate):

1. The water, which you boil for the pasta, has to be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea.

2. When cooking spaghetti, never break the pasta into two. This is almost sacrilegious amongst Italians. I wouldn’t dare.

3. Add the drained pasta TO the sauce, not the other way around. And especially, never dollop a spoonful of sauce on top of drained pasta. I gasp at the thought of it, and it is SO eighties.

4. Always save a cup of pasta water aside and use it to loosen the sauce.

As these recipes are my own inventions, the ingredients have been listed in an uncalculating, random manner and should be used as a rough guide/guesstimate. So I recommend to taste the sauces throughout the cooking process and add/omit the ingredients depending on taste.

Minx’s Tuna Linguini

This pasta dish incorporates my all-time favourite ingredients: garlic, lemon, parmesan, pine nuts and tuna. This is true comfort in a bowl.

Recipe

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 tin of tuna (always get tuna in oil, rather than water or brine, as it is tastier and less dry)
Handful/a cup of pine nuts
Handful of chopped parsley
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 knobs of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 portions of linguini (around 100-150 grams. But remember, more pasta needs more sauce, so if you like saucy sauce,  use less pasta, or make more sauce!)
Large pan of boiling water, with a generous few pinches of salt

First, place the linguini into the boiling water , stirring every few minutes, and allow it to cook. Whilst the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Place a small-medium sized frying pan and heat over a low flame. Add the pine nuts and dry-roast until golden brown (careful, because they burn quickly). Remove the pine nuts from the pan and put aside on a plate. In the same pan, heat the olive oil on a medium-low heat. Whilst heating, add the minced garlic and stir. When the garlic sizzles, sending an almost orgasmic waft up your nose, add the lemon zest and pine nuts and stir for a about 5-10 seconds. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir for about 15-30 seconds, until the lemon juice reduces. Add the drained tuna, stir, season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, stir once more and then turn off the flame. Drain the pasta, although keeping aside a 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the frying pan, add the pasta water, butter and parmesan, and stir thoroughly. Serve with a extra topping of Parmesan, if one my desire.

Minx’s Spicy Sauce

My second pasta dish was inspired by in-laws, whose dishes are built upon their combined cultures of  Tripoli (the Italian colony in Northern African) and Israel. My mother-in-law, to be exact, makes a wonderful spicy tomato pasta. The sauce includes tomato concentrate (a staple in Israeli home cooking), garlic, paprika, oil and water. She makes the sauce thick and deep enough, so that the dried pasta can immerse itself in the sauce and cook. It is extremely oily and spicy, which all together makes it delicious. I adapted this recipe for the more health conscious, whilst adding a few of my own favourite ingredients. The result is a rich and spicy pasta dish, with the punch of anchovies and smokiness of paprika.

Note, this recipe is adapted for a lonely diner in mind (i.e. one) and if the diner doesn’t like anchovies, they can omit/or replace it with tuna or pan-fried mushrooms.

Recipe

1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp  paprika
1 heaped tbsp tomato concentrate
1/2 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Spaghetti (enough for one helping, around 55 grams)
Large pan of boiling water, with a generous few pinches of salt
Basil leaves

First, place the spaghetti into the boiling water , stirring every few minutes, and allow it to cook. Whilst the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil on a medium-low heat. Whilst heating, add the minced garlic and chilli flakes. Once the garlic and chilli imparts their aromas, add the tomato puree. Mix the puree for a few seconds to cook out its raw taste, add the paprika, stir, and then add the water. Reduce for around 30-60 seconds, till you have a rich sauce. Season with salt and pepper and then add the drain pasta, again with a 1/4 cup of the pasta water, directly into the sauce. Stir well and serve with grated parmesan cheese and basil leaves.

Stay happy and satisfied people!

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One Response to Minx’s Favourite Pasta Creations – Whilst on a Budget and in a Funk

  1. Gerry Shaer says:

    Sounds delish. I must try it.

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