Here’s a meal that is perfect for this busy time of year, when you’ve come home exhausted from work and shopping. You can be sitting down to a bowl of this on the couch 10 minutes after walking through the front door.
If you don’t have basil growing in your garden or balcony then I strongly recommend planting some this weekend. Put it in a sunny spot and you will have lovely fresh basil leaves all summer long.
- Dried spaghetti – enough for 2 serves
- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- About 10 small basil leaves
- Zest of half a lemon
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Grated fresh parmesan or pecorino cheese
Cook the spaghetti in boiling water, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t all stick together. When its nearly cooked, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, toss in the garlic, let it cook just briefly, half a minute, then add the lemon zest and tomatoes. Scoop out a little of the pasta water – just a tablespoon or two – into a little bowl or cup and set it aside, drain the pasta and tip the spaghetti – unrinsed – straight into the pan with the garlic etc. Mix everything through over a low heat and add the little bit of reserved cooking water and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Stir through the basil leaves until just wilted, season, and serve with the parmesan.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the need to balance acidic with alkaline foods in your diet. Just google the topic if you want to find out more, but the upshot is that too much acid forming food and drink in your diet leads to all sorts of trouble. I bet you can guess what the culprits are too: alcohol, coffee, soft drink, fried food, sugar, processed foods, cheese and meat.. etc
Many experts believe our diet should be 75% alkaline (fresh veg, fruit, whole grains etc etc) and 25% acid. Yesterday my diet would have been the other way around: coffee and pancakes for breakfast (mostly acidic) homemade chicken noodle and vegetable soup for lunch (a little alkaline) and mussels and fries for dinner, with wine and beers later at the footy – highly acidic!
Today I’ve put some balance back, with a super quick and fiercely healthy soup that’s fresh, sharp and hydrating, so it will also help you if you have a hangover. And taking under 10 minutes to prepare, it has earned a spot in the Emergency Meal category.
- About 1/3 cup miso paste
- About 600 ml water
- Handful of silverbeet leaves, finely sliced
- 1 tin brown lentils, or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 sliced fresh chilli, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
- Juice of half a lemon
Gently heat the water and miso paste, stirring to dissolve. Its important not to boil miso soup, or its goodness will be destroyed. When heated through and the paste is dissolved, add the spinach, about half of the lentils or chick peas, chilli and lemon juice.
Variations: you could make this a more substantial meal by adding soba noodles, tofu and/or shiitake mushrooms. Some fresh herbs – eg mint, coriander – might also be nice.
A vegetarian variation of the chicken & pumpkin baked risotto, this is even faster and easier, elevating it from “One Pot Wonder” to “Emergency Meal” status, as you can have this in the oven in under 10 minutes from the time you began prep. Porcini mushrooms are amazing – they have so much earthy, rich flavour. Its a great idea to always keep a packet in your pantry.
1 cup Arborio rice
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
15 g packet porcini mushrooms (from delis, continental grocers, etc)
200 ml chicken or veg stock
150 ml boiled water
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
About a tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves
Salt & pepper
About a dessertspoon of butter
Put the mushrooms in a small bowl or jug and pour over the boiled water. Cover and leave to reconstitute for 5-10 minutes. Put the rice, garlic, and bay leaf in a baking dish. Drain the mushroom and reserve the water they were soaking in – this is full of flavour and must not be wasted. Chop the mushrooms roughly and add to the baking dish. Pour over the mushroom water and stock, and dot with the butter. Cover and bake for about 25 minutes, checking and stirring around at least once throughout and adding more stock or water if necessary. Remove, and stir through the thyme and parmesan.