Over the past two or so years, our meals have moved very much towards throw together meals that are veggie-rich, satiating and most importantly easy and quick to make. I’m the main cook of the house and after a long day at work the last thing I feel like doing is spending hours in the kitchen cooking dinner. That said, while there are nights I crave something really simple like avocado toast, I still like my meals to be interesting and flavour is really important. To make sure our meals stay interesting and tasty without taking too long to prepare, I keep a bunch of condiments in the pantry and fridge ready to use to add flavour and texture to our meals. jars and bottles of olives, capers, anchovies, miso paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, pesto, chilli sauces, vinegars, oils, dried herb mixes and spices can be the key behind turning a really boring dish into an exciting one.
This pasta has been on high rotation in our kitchen since we returned from Italy a few weeks back, where we ate pasta nearly every day! We returned to some pretty amazing weather – long, hot days here in Tasmania which is completely unseasonal for this time of year. In fact, this is the hottest November on record in 129 years! So while we’ve been craving pasta, we really wanted to lighten it up a bit, while still keeping things interesting.
I’ve used leeks, asparagus and cabbage here as they’re been the star ingredients in our veggie boxes the last few weeks, but you could try any similar vegetables here – shaved Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini etc. Mushrooms would be delicious here as well, or even eggplant.
This pasta gets it’s flavourings from a bunch of condiments, and while I suggest you use all if you can to get the full flavour experience, you can easily substitute here too (using the suggestions below) if need be.
– MAKE IT YOUR OWN –
- Swap out the vegetables for whatever you have on hand; shaved Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant etc
- The anchovies, capers, olives and parmasen add not just flavour but saltiness. If you omit any of these, make sure you taste before serving and add salt accordingly if need be
- And some finely chopped chilli with the leek and garlic for a little kick
- Stir through a tablespoon of spice mix like dukkah or za’atar spices instead of the parmasen to add a different flavour profile
- Stir through a can of chickpeas from some protein, and crumbled feta
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 small anchovy fillets (optional)
- 2 bunches asparagus, end removed and stalks cut in thirds
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- splash white wine (around 50ml)
- 1 bunch quick-cooking greens (eg spinach, baby kale)
- 200g dry pasta, cooked according to directions
- Juice and rind of one lemon
- 2 heaped tablespoons baby capers
- 10 large green olives, finely chopped
- 50g parmasen cheese, plus extra to serve
- fresh oregano or basil to serve
- Heat oil in a large fry pan over low-medium heat. Fry leek and garlic until the leek is starting to soften. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring, another minute or two until the anchovies have dissolved.
- Add the asparagus, cabbage, capers, olives, and wine, and stir to combine.
- Cover, and cook for 5 mins.
- Add the pasta, greens lemon juice and zest, and cook a minute or two until heated through and the greens are starting to wilt.
- Stir through the parmasen and fresh herbs before serving, and serve toped with extra cheese.