Fusili with Red and Yellow Peppers and Curry Leaf Oil

The grilled red and yellow peppers enhance their natural sweetness and adds to the flavour of this simple pasta dish. It also imparts a smoky deliciousness to the dish.

I prepared the peppers on the previous day and refrigerated them overnight. This saves a lot of time. Any short pasta can be used for this recipe.

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I added some spices to give it an interesting twist. I find that spices and pasta go well together. It should just awaken the taste buds and have you salivating for more.

I wanted a herb oil to elevate this simple dish and I decided to try curry leaves. In the recent Masterchef Australia, there was a lot of emphasis on curry leaf. It has a strong but subtle flavour. I was really happy with the results because the curry leaf oil was so flavourful and paired beautifully with the pasta. Absolutely divine.

This recipe has been adapted from Vegetarian published by Hermes House (Consultant Editor Nicola Graimes).

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 450 g red and yellow peppers
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 400 g mini fusili or other short pasta
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Curry Leaf Oil

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup curry leaves

Instructions

Place the peppers under a hot grill and turn occasionally until they are blackened and blistered on all sides. Remove and place in a paper bag for 5 minutes.

Peel the peppers and quarter them. Cut the flesh into long thin strips discarding the stem and seeds.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook until they are transparent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sautè for about 2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and stir fry for a minute. Add the chilli powder and coriander powder and mix well. Add salt to taste and the peppers and mix together.

Add salt and pasta to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is tender.

Add about ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water to the onion and pepper mixture. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the peppers and cook over moderate heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix the pasta and the sauce well.

To make the curry leaf oil, heat the oil in a pan and add the curry leaves when it is hot. They will splutter. Remove immediately or they will change colour. Cool and blitz in the blender. Spoon into a serving dish.

Serve hot with the curry leaf oil and Parmesan cheese passed separately.

Pasta Alla Norma

I was first introduced to this classic Sicilian dish when I was watching Kitchen Boss by Buddy Valastro. Since then, it has become one of my favourite pasta recipes.

It’s a very light and refreshing dish, full of fresh flavours. The tomatoes and aubergines adds colour and robust flavour to the pasta.

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It is recommended to use Ricotta Salata, but I used Parmesan cheese. I used mini fusili wholewheat pasta and it was really delicious.

I departed from the original recipe by adding a few spices (of course)! I really liked the end result. It was very satisfying and delicious.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 45-50 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 4 cups strained tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 300 gms mini fusili
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3/4th cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Cut off the ends from each aubergine and peel them. Slice one aubergine into 1/8” round slices and dice the other into ½” cubes. Salt the slices and cubes and leave to drain in a colander for one hour.

Roast the caraway seeds and fennel seeds separately and powder them.

Prepare the breadcrumb mix by mixing them with 1 tsp each of the powdered caraway and fennel seeds. Add 1 tsp of the nutmeg powder to the breadcrumbs along with salt and 3 tbsp grated cheese. Mix well and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to boil.

Heat the olive oil and saute the onions. When they are cooked add the garlic, red chilli flakes and the remaining of the powdered caraway seeds and fennel seeds. Add the remaining nutmeg and the diced aubergine. Saute for a few minutes and add the strained tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer, simmering for 5 minutes. Add the butter and the chopped basil.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato sauce. Transfer to a serving dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Pat the sliced aubergines dry with a paper towel and toss them in flour, patting off the excess flour. Dip the slices in the beaten egg and coat with the breadcrumbs. Fry the slices a few at a time in the oil until they are golden brown on both sides.

Slice the fried aubergines into three strips and top the pasta. Garnish with the grated cheese and serve immediately.