Tag Archives: pasta

Spaghetti with tomato, basil and white cheese

It seems like summer recipes are all over the Internet now. And the highlight ingredient of all those colourful sun soaked vegetables has to be the bright as sunshine tomatoes. I even saw an article on the Hwacheon tomato festival in South Korea, where everyone celebrates the harvest of this rotund fruit. Imagine kids jumping into pools of tomato juice, for fun, yup. Exactly.

While we enjoy summer all year round, we don’t get the fun or abundance of picking fruits and vegetables in the backyard, throwing the excess for a tomato spa party. We do get a better selection of fruits and vegetables in the market (my mum’s explanation that the warmer the weather, the better the harvest). So we have been getting pretty sweet (imported) watermelons, cherries and better looking vegetables. Yes, there are good looking vegetables that I can’t help but admire and end up buying.

I so love the simplicity of this dish. Brings food back to the basic taste. Ok, canned tomatoes were used but that’s hardly the point. These tomatoes worked really well. Right. I can’t imagine if we had ready access to farmers market. 


Recipe (serves 3)

240g spaghetti

90g white cheese (I used a Danish one. Feta, mozzarella or even Brie will be great as well.)

1 can chopped tomatoes (use a good Italian brand such as Cirio, just 20% more exp, but 200% better than Hunt’s)

12 fresh cherry tomatoes

30g basil

5 cloves garlic

Mince garlic, add to a pot with some oil and fry over low heat. 

Pluck the basil leaves and throw the (large) stalks into the pot. 

Pick about 12 nice basil leaves and set aside. 

Shred or chop the remaining basil leaves and add to the pot. Give the basil and garlic a quick stir. Keep a keen eye on them. At the faintest hint that the garlic is beginning to brown, add the canned tomatoes. Stir. Half fill the can with tap water and add to the pot. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 mins less than the stated time on the packet. 

Meanwhile, slice the fresh cherry tomatoes into halves and add to the simmering tomato sauce. Control the fire such that the sauce will reduce and thicken slightly at the time the spaghetti is ready. 

Use a pair of tongs to transfer the spaghetti to the pot of sauce. Add a ladle of spaghetti cooking water to the sauce (important!). Toss the spaghetti in the sauce. Bite into one spaghetti to make sure it’s cooked. If not, let it simmer in the sauce for one more minute or so, adding pasta cooking water if necessary.

Plate the spaghetti, slot in small chunks of cheese and basil. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, good sea salt and freshly grounded pepper. 

Spaghetti al Limone


Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE this pasta? Never mind the exorbitantly priced organic lemon. The pasta is heavenly. The right tinge of sourness mixed with the savoury parmesan cheese and the sturdy texture of pasta. Hmmmm. I can eat this on its own, everyday.

I think I will fit perfectly in Italy. Yes?

Recipe (Serves 2)
160 g spaghetti
1 nice lemon, preferably organic
50g butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 chili padi, without seeds, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon chili flakes
Freshly grated pecorino cheese, abt 25g
2 tbs of cream or milk
A small handful of fresh herbs such as parsley.

Boil a pot of salted water. Meanwhile prep the ingredients. When water boils, throw in spaghetti.
Immediately start on the sauce by heating up the oil and butter with garlic and chili in a skillet. After a minute, zest the lemon directly into the skillet. Cut lemon into half and juice it into the skillet, filtering the seeds with your hands. Add cream/milk and a quarter cup of pasta cooking liquid. Mix well.
Stir the pasta, taste one to decide how long it should stay in the boiling water. Lower the heat under the sauce. Throw in the cheese (leaving a little for garnish). Add some more pasta water (a little more than u think u need). Add herbs, salt and pepper, mix.
With tongs, directly transfer spaghetti from pot into skillet. Toss to coat. Plate, garnish with pecorino cheese and pepper. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and extra virgin olive oil. Serve.

Note: While this is a pretty flexible and generic recipe, do not add to many ingredients as the purpose is to let the lemon shine. Buy good lemons, preferably organic since you’ll eating the zest.
The original recipe calls for fresh pasta, of course… http://www.emikodavies.com/blog/unwinding-with-tagliolini-al-limone/

Homemade Pesto Pasta

A quick lunch for a lazy Saturday.
Great way to use up the CNY cashew nuts too.


Recipe for pesto
2 large handful of basil leaves
1 large handful of coriander
1/4 cup of cashew nuts (or any other nuts really)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan
a pinch of salt
extra virgin olive oil

Roughly chop garlic and nuts. Add the herbs and chop rather finely. Transfer to a mortar and pestle (in batches) and grind/pound until desired smoothness. Transfer into a bowl and mix in salt, parmesan and about 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Lightly press down the pesto to slightly compactify it. Add more olive oil until it just cover the pesto. Cover the bowl in cling wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Baked pasta

Baked pasta

When we were younger, ‘baked pasta’ or ‘baked rice’ has always been a must order luxury item when we were treated to Swensens restaurant, for some reason or other. Besides the mega scoops of ice-creams, this was something which we will always look forward to.  Never mind the often dry or overcooked meat/rice/pasta, the highlight was digging into the crusty first layer of cheese followed by the gooey second layer which we will always finish off before we even touch the mains inside.

Some things just don’t change, even when it’s home cooked. (the pasta and mains were cooked perfectly though!)


Adapted from Jamie’s Italy (for 2):

150g pasta (i used fusilli)
1 can (400g) tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes, skinned if desired, roughly chopped
a handful of grated aged Gouda or Parmesan or Pecorino
1 ball of fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
5-10 fresh basil leaves
100g chicken, diced (optional)
100g mushrooms, sliced (optional)
olive oil, salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta al dente.

Meanwhile cook canned and fresh tomatoes in a medium pot. When boiling, add the rest of the ingredients reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Rub a medium/small ceramic baking dish with olive oil and put a layer of pasta, followed by some tomato sauce, some cheese, then repeat layers (about 2or 3 will do) , ending with a layer cheese on top.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the top layer is golden and bubbling.Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Fusilli with Homemade Tomato Sauce

Tomato halves and garlic cloves waiting to be roasted

Fusilli pomodoro e basilico


Preheat oven to 150 deg Celcius and drizzle a roasting tray with olive oil. Cut tomatoes into halves and lay in the tray. Scatter garlic cloves with their skin on and drizzle more olive oil. Roast for at least 2 hours.

If a little spiciness is preferred, throw in a chilli or two halfway through the roasting process. 15 minutes before the end, add a handful of basil leaves, pushing them under the tomatoes as far as possible.

After roasting, remove the skins of the tomatoes and garlic. Deseed the tomatoes and chilli if you wish. Blend to the desired smoothness.

Ladle onto freshly cooked pasta. Garnish with torn parsley. Boun Appetito!