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10 minute magic!
Pasta Vegetarian

Everyone has probably guessed I read a lot. A magazine junkie it is fashion (yes you’d be hard put to guess that passion given they way I dress), travel, crime and most of all food, the lack of it and food history. Being driven by my colleagues to always bring them something new because I have the time to read compulsively and experiment, it has become my role to mentor and encourage the next generation. Add to that, my students especially “teacher’s pets” who probably know more, and cook better than a lot of chefs are ever thirsty for something new. Then of course there’s the weekly column for the Independent and food on my own web site Galaxy Guides. Not really a lot of pressure……and they wonder why I sleep so little! Simply the heat is always on!

Yet the longer I cook the less complicated my own cooking becomes. I couldn’t really cook for at least the first five years of my professional cooking career because overnight transition from technical illustrator to chef meant there was much to learn. That learning has never stopped. What the really good cook finally learns is that a few ingredients intelligently handled can make a meal that is frequently more memorable than food that has been painstakingly worked for hours by a diligent and adventurous chef. Learning that less is actually more is the culmination of a cooking career, a reaching of wisdom a gaining of absolute confidence. The joy of this final stage of my cooking is watching guests who have spent hours rattling off a dream dining list, run their finger around a plate to gather the last drop of sauce, cut themselves another slice of bread when none remains on the plate, beg a second scoop of ice cream when in truth they should not be able to squeeze another morsel through their lips. Such is the power of simple food and accumulated knowledge.

Mary Taylor Simeti reached this point in her cooking a long time ago. She is one of those unique American cooking authorities who make a lie of the nonsensical notion that Americans know nothing about food and don’t have great restaurants. If anyone has to dosh (lots of it) I’d be happy to take the tour. She is a brilliant author, her specialty Sicilian food Simeti writes recipes that work and words that enchant with their history and simplicity. Simeti is an author who understands seasonality and writes about a culture that miraculously still regards seasonality and proximity as essential to their cooking. Winter cauliflower, yes, right now for us is a wondrous vegetable and I am totally fed up of being served a smear across a plate with all of this excellent vegetable’s wonderful texture (and frequently taste) utterly lost. Many years ago we served a cauliflower pasta from this book. A simple dish with uncomplicated and accessible ingredients but complex textures it is pasta with pickled lemon or finely grated lemon rind, a smattering of moistened currants, torn ciabatta fried crunchy in your best olive oil, mass chopped parsley, spikes of good sea salt and pepper a splash of your favourite EV olive oil, cooked pasta — finely grated Parmesan Reggiano optional.
Recently trawling through Pomp and Sustenance (now published under the title Sicilian Food) for the umpteenth time I noticed this brilliant recipe, one that truly has the magician’s wand – cooking time 10 minutes start to finish, prep another 10, you’ve got to love that!

Pasta with Cauliflower
serves four

100g shallot or red onion, fried until golden in EV olive oil*
10g garlic, macerated with the back of a knife and sautéed in a little olive oil (or 20g roasted garlic)*
30g sea salt
good splash EV olive oil
500g dried quality pasta
500g cauliflower, cut into medium flowerettes
80g golden sultanas (or currants)
three handfuls of green vegetables, rappe is great but not spinach because you get the nasty metallic scum
50g crushed roasted walnuts*
extra EV olive oil
sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
lots of parsley and fennel top, roughly chopped

Set a large pot of hot water on high heat and add the sea salt and splash of EV olive oil. Put the onion and garlic into a bowl large enough to easily hold all of the ingredients and sit it on top of the pot. When the water boils add the pasta and stir over and when the water boils again set a timer for 5 minutes.
When the timer goes, add the cauliflower and set the timer for four minutes. When the timer goes add the sultanas, stir through for 30 seconds then add the greens. Stir through, cook for another 30 seconds and immediately tip into a colander and drain.

Tip into the onion and garlic, add a good splash of EV olive oil, the walnuts and toss over, season with salt and pepper and adjust as required. Stir through some of the herb and put the pasta into a serving bowl. Scatter the last of the herb over the top and serve immediately.

Don’t forget it is the time to make a batch of cauliflower mustard pickle to go with that white bread and corned beef sandwich……yeah!

*The home vac makes luscious fast and fab meals easy
One of the greatest things for home cooks and to some extent the professional cook is being able to vac is advance prep. The long bags are great you can take what you want and reseal. We keep a range of roasted crushed nuts, roasted sesame seeds, roasted garlic, sautéed shallots and red onion just to name a few basics. The important thing to remember about re–vaccing if you are going to reseal is to always use clean utensils and absolutely no hands. It really does make 10–minute meals possible without compromising the quality. There are very few appliances I unreservedly recommend, Kenwood and Magimix, Bamix and now the latest model Sunbeam home vac. Sure one can argue it is not exactly environmentally friendly and in some ways that is true, however you can reseal bags that you might have otherwise wrapped in plastic food wrap, and using the right size bag means you can reseal and reseal.
Packed properly you can easily get three weeks cooked shallots/onion, roasted garlic six weeks and roasted nuts and sesame seeds longer. All of the storage times hinge on good hygiene ……no hands, food service gloves and clean utensils! read more about vaccing and sous–vide technique.

Sicilian Food
Recipes from Italy’s abundant isle
Mary Taylor Simeti
Published by Wakefield Press P/B $29.95


Twenty–five centuries of Sicilian food 

Mary Taylor Simeti 

Published by The Ecco Press, P/B some copies available on–line

This wonderful book sits in the style of Claudia Roden’s New Middle Eastern Cookbook (first published in 1976). Pomp and Sustenance was first published in 1998 and is as equally widely used in the commercial kitchen as it is in the domestic kitchen. A must have book that is not just an excellent recipe book but also a fantastic read. Sicilian Food (Pomp and Sustenance) is a must own cookbook.

to read more reviews for books about Italian cuisine click here

making your own pasta
  • Let it dry for 15 minutes
  • Put the cauliflower into the water first and when the water comes back to the boil, set a timer for 2 minutes
  • On the two minutes add the pasta and set a timer for two minutes
  • Add the sultanas, 30 seconds and then stir through the rape
  • Rest the same as for dried pasta
  • Best ever pasta dough recipe click here

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.