Sunday 18 May 2008

PPN: Story of a pasta sauce

Today I thought I would tell you the story of some vegetables that have journeyed through the weekend with me. These vegetables have been through recreation, resurrection and recycling. When my plans have gone awry they have rescued, revived and redirected me. I just wish I knew what to call them. Is it a salad, it is a brunch fry-up, is it a pasta sauce? I’ll let you to be the judge.

Saturday morning found me in the supermarket raiding the fruit and vegetable section, full of hope. My fridge is still full of vegetables that I have not yet cooked but plan to during the week. I baked bread and decided I would roast some pumpkin while I preheated the oven and baked the bread. While the pumpkin and bread did their thing I prepared other vegetables for what I planned to be a salad. I was inspired by a recipe in my notebook but took ideas for a raspberry vinegar and orange juice vinaigrette from one made recently by Helen.

In my mind I intended to divide the pumpkin into halves. One part for a salad I was taking to a friend’s and one part to add to a brunch dish of tomato, cannellini beans and spinach. In my hurry I put all of the pumpkin into the salad. My friend Will was delighted as he loves pumpkin. He had made some amazing panir cheese steaks which he served with mashed sweet potato and the salad. Great combination but so much salad that I took home oodles of it.

On Sunday morning my sister, Francesca and partner Steve were coming for brunch. I had planned a simple dish of warmed tomatoes, cannellini beans and spinach to go with zucchini fritters. But I had thought it would be nice to add some of my roasted pumpkin. When I ended up with lots of salad over, it seemed as good warmed as cold so I decided to recycle it instead of making another dish.

‘So I’m having fried salad and a smoothie for brunch,’ groaned the Grim Eater, as he vacuumed the rug. He just didn’t appreciate that the salad’s highlight (garlic) and disappointment (not enough vinegar) made it perfect for resurrection as a heated dish and earned gratitude for time-saving. I added some cannellini beans, more tomatoes, more spinach, more garlic and some lemon juice. Warmed up it was delicious.

But at the end of brunch, we still had too much of it to wish away. I looked at E as we cleared the dishes and said, 'pasta sauce for dinner!' Initially I was disappointed not to make the cassoulet I had planned but after baking for morning tea at work tomorrow, I was relieved to have the convenience of my friendly vegetables. I added some more spinach and heated it (again) by which time it was wilting in a very pleasing way that was much more sauce than salad. Stirred through hot pasta with a bit of parmesan cheese, Bob’s your uncle!

I loved it so much I wanted to write it up but it made me think just how artificial recipes are. As you will see by my story, it has been added to and reheated too many times for any simple equation. So here is a recipe below which gives an approximation of what I did all bundled into one dish. It is really just collapses a few moments in time into one rather than being an accurate reflection of any of the reincarnations.

I am sending this dish to Ruth at Ruth of Once Upon a Feast for her weekly Pasta Presto Nights. I am sure she will appreciate the flexibility of a pasta recipe. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more post on my weekend.

Pumpkin, Tomato and Spinach Pasta/Salad
Serves 6

700g pumpkin, trimmed, peeled and diced
500g grape tomatoes, halved
200g green beans, trimmed and chopped
100g baby spinach, torn
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
1 tbsp raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for roasting
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)
Cooked pasta to serve (about 2 small dessert bowls uncooked)

Place pumpkin in a large roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and Roast pumpkin in cool oven (150 C) for 1 hour and then at 180 C for 20-30 minutes or until soft.

While pumpkin cooks lightly blanch the green beans. Make vinaigrette by whisking together raspberry vinegar, juices, zest, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Season.

When pumpkin is cooked toss in a bowl with tomatoes, green beans, spinach and cannellini beans and dressing. Season. If using as a salad, it is ready to serve with or without the pasta. If using as a pasta sauce, warm in a saucepan until vegetables are warmed and slightly wilting. Toss through cooked pasta and serve with parmesan cheese if desired.

On the stereo:
The Rule of Thirds: Death in June


  1. Great story! I love recipes that use up leftovers of other recipes. I think the pasta incarnation would be my favorite, too.

    A question I've been meaning to ask for ages and keep forgetting: how exactly would you define "fry-up"? Is it anything that contains fried ingredients for breakfast/brunch? We have no equivalent here. . . and I'm so curious!

  2. Ha ha, I'm loving the story of the pasta sauce! You certainly got a few meals out of that creation! I'm glad the dressing inspired you, raspberry vinegar is the best! My current obsession....

  3. What an amazingly well-travelled dish! It sounds really good in all its incarnations, and I'm very pleased that the wonderful pumpkin showed its versatility. It sounds as though E's glad to see the back of it though!

  4. I love recycling too. Actually, am not a fan of leftovers. No matter how yummy it was the first time it is never quite so exciting to do it all over again the next day - so dismantling and rejigging is my favoured route. Like roast veg with dinner, that can become a blended soup, a salad with lots of fresh herbs and a dressing, a great omelette...(ok I'm getting hungry now!)

  5. Hi. The sauce pot came up nicely after boiling cold water in it.

  6. thanks Ricki - the pasta sauce was a pleasant surprise at the end of the weekend. Now a fry-up is a British term which traditionally refers to greasy-spoon-style fried eggs, sausages and bacon and trimmings - I despaired of ever trying it when first travelling in the UK but modern versions are happy to cater for vegetarians and vegans. The bean dish could be a very trendy version of 'baked beans' but would not be recognised on a traditional fry up.

    Thanks Helen - I love raspberry vinegar on a salad and am almost finished my bottle of the stuff I made in summer so will need to make more next summer.

    thanks Lysy - E just doesn't appreciate pumpkin like I do - which I put down to him growing up in Scotland where he never ate them

    thanks AOF - recycling leftovers always seems a great achievement - Leftovers in a soup is one of my favourite ways of using them - this salad would be great heated with some stock!

    thanks Will - glad the sauce pot has lived to see another day!

  7. Johanna . . .
    That is so much life! Wonderful way to write it up! Love the idea of salad to fried salad to salad pasta sauce! That is perfect.

  8. thanks Tanna - oh, yes - life really is about plenty of surprises around the corner and making do with what life brings - just like this salad/stew/pasta


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)