Saturday, 10 March 2012

Dinner in a dash...

Things have been pretty hectic lately, and as a result, there isn’t a lot of time to think about my next culinary master piece. When this happens, it’s nice to know there are still delicious, easy meals that can easily fit into your schedule.

I love food from the Mediterranean- the tomato, the pasta, the feta. And I love visiting the Mediterranean Food Company here in Christchurch. It’s so easy to pick up a few staples for the coming weeks. This first recipe incorporates all that I love, without the hassle.

Eggplant, tomato, chilli and feta pasta

Serves 2

Olive oil, for frying
2 small eggplants, sliced (these ones are from the Christchurch Farmers Market)
1 small onion, diced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
Spaghetti, one small fist full (depending on how hungry you are)
Half jar of Passata
100g feta cheese, cut in bite-sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, grated for serving

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add eggplant and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes or until eggplant is golden and tender.
Add chilli and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain well.
Add Passata to eggplant mix. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the drained pasta. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir through feta. Add in your favourite herbs, if desired. I added some Italian dried herbs for extra flavour.

This next recipe is one of my favourites. And if you’re making it for two there is usually excess left for lunch the next day. The pearl barley adds a different texture to usual risotto, and is a relatively cheap ingredient.

Pearl barley, mushroom & chorizo risotto

Serves 4ish

Olive oil, for frying
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 chorizo, thinly sliced
1¾ cups pearl barley
4 cups chicken stock
250g button mushrooms, sliced
Parmesan, grated for serving

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic and chorizo until chorizo are brown.
Stir in barley and stock. Bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook for another 10 minutes, until barley is tender and the liquid absorbed.
Sauté mushrooms in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Fold mushrooms, parsley and parmesan through barley and season.

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