Thursday, 22 June 2017

DO follow this recipe - BE a super chef - HAVE Pasta Primavera!

Recipe of the week...
... Pasta Primavera

Ingredients: A small knob of unsalted butter, 1 garlic clove, 60g asparagus tips, 100g peas (tinned or fresh), 100g frozen soya beans (or – if you can’t get hold of any – tinned butter beans), 100g baby spinach, 100g pasta, ½ a lemon, a large handful of fresh spring herbs (e.g. mint, basil, dill, parsley), salt and ground black pepper. Plus, to serve, a small handful of hazelnuts, grated parmesan / hard cheese, and olive oil for drizzling.

Time taken: Half an hour or so.

Serves: One decent portion.

Hi readers,

How are we all today? Are you doing okay?? I hope everyone is hanging in there post-heatwave! I have been loving the sunshine. Hasn’t it been great? I’ve been sat in the beer garden, and lounging in the park. I went on a picnic, and bought new sunglasses. I’ve even picked up a bit of colour! Only on one or two body parts, but still. We’ve stocked the freezer at work with ice lollies, and had some work done on the office so the windows NOW OPEN – hallelujah!

How about you, readers? Have you been making the most of the wonderful weather? Barbecuing, maybe, or taking a trip to the seaside? Re-familiarising yourself with your ice cream van’s selection and its route around the neighbourhood! Whatever you’ve got up to, readers, I hope the sunny weather’s cheered you up nicely. And let’s hope we get some more of it – eh! TOUCH WOOD… a sunny summer would be cracking.

I was reading an article on Medium just now – ‘35 Things You Need to Give Up to be Successful’, by Benjamin P. Hardy (which you can find here). Having failed my driving test this week, readers, I lingered over the ‘Pursuing “Happiness”’ section of this article. It’s not that I’m an unhappy person, generally. But failing my driving test hasn’t exactly brought great joy to my week. It was a stand out unhappy incident. It sucked. But here’s what the article says…

So, naturally, I read and related this logic with my mission to pass the driving test. It’s so easy when you first look at this to think – and here’s exactly what I did think – yes, but I need to HAVE a driving license in order to DO what I want which is drive to work and BE a driver who doesn’t waste hours commuting, on foot and on bloody public transport. And, indeed, that is true.

But, on the flip hand. If I just could BE a good listener then what I could DO is listen out for great driving tips from friends, family and colleagues, and before I know it I’ll HAVE a driving license on the back of all their good advice. That’s better than letting everyone’s well-meaning advice irritate me and fielding off their tips ninja-style like they’re bullets.

If I could try and BE cool as a cucumber then what I could DO is manoeuvre well on the day, staying calm under pressure and getting it right first time, and then it’s certain I’ll HAVE a driving license as – fact – I can drive fine when I’m not battling nerves. That’s better than letting my failure the first time put added pressure on my second attempt. And, thus, fucking up another manoeuvre.

If I could suck it up and BE confident then what I could DO is take my friend up on her offer to take me out in her car and practice the dreaded bay park, and then I’ll HAVE a driving license as I won’t fail on a bodged attempt at parking in the last minute of the test this time. That’s better than turning down her offer as I’m too worried I might bump her car. Even though I might.

If I could endeavour to BE enquiring and interested in other people, then what I could DO is ask friends/family member/colleague all about their car and its pros and cons, grill them for info on everything they’ve discovered while driving it, and then if I do this loads I’ll HAVE an arsenal of car knowledge ready to go once there’s a driving license in my hand. That’s better than passing and realising I know nothing about getting set up with a car. Zilch. Nada.

Plus, if I could bear down, brave it and BE a responsible credit card user then what I could DO is build a solid credit rating, and then I’ll HAVE a decent credit score and I’ll be able to get a car, as people will trust that I’m able to pay it back. That’s better than steering clear of credit cards or getting one and going on a spree setting up a fabulous summer wardrobe. Then, languishing in bad credit or just none at all. Can’t be doing with that.

Fear not – I’ll stop now – but isn’t all of that clearly way more useful than wanting to be a person that has a driving license? I’m getting bored of being a person that wants to have a driving license, jealously watching people hop in their cars and speed away. Is BORING. There’s nothing I can do to get a driving license for another four weeks, until test number two, and so it’s a waste of time obsessively wanting one. Until mid-July, it isn’t achievable and isn’t a good use of my time.

What I CAN do in the next few weeks is work towards being a good listener, cool as a cucumber, confident and brave, enquiring and interested. A far better use of my time, no? And achievable. I’m thinking that I’ll be a far happier person over the next four weeks, for sure, if I focus my energies away from wanting to HAVE a driving license. The article has it right.

Give this logic a think, readers. I’m sure it applies to you, one way or another. Can you see how? Can you see how you’re applying a very definite have-do-be logic in one area of your life? Waiting until you have new clothes to be well dressed? Waiting until you have a promotion to be more professional? Waiting until you have a ring on your finger, to be with someone for better or for worse?

What about what you could have, what is within your grasp, if you were just to be and do? So much, I’m sure. So so much. Things are there for the taking! If you can just make it happen. And it won’t, it will not happen, readers, if you use all your time up wanting to have these things. Tis a poor use of your time and a poor use of mine, too. So.. let’s not! Let’s cut that out, RIGHT NOW.

Instead, let’s apply some of Benjamin P. Hardy’s wonderful logic to turn things on their head, readers. And also… let’s cook some great food! Whooo! We love the great food, don’t we! That’s for sure. And, even though we’ve technically sizzled into Summer this week, they’re still selling asparagus at the shops and I think this calls for one last asparagus-inspired Spring recipe.

My recipe of the week, this week, is one for Pasta Primavera – ‘primavera’ meaning Spring! The recipe comes from the BBC Good Food website (you can read the original here) and is a created by celebrity chef Simon Rimmer, from Sunday Brunch. One of my favourite stars of Sunday morning television, there’s nothing Simon Rimmer can’t knock together live on TV in about five minutes flat, to the delight of his guest celebrities. 

He really IS cool as a cucumber, this guy, and here's the recipe in just 15 simple steps…

Recipe: Pasta Primavera

1.     Pour yourself a chilled drink, throw the windows open, and set some summery music playing.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: This week I’ve been tapping my toe to ‘HAIM – Want You Back’. It’s a real summery song, great for singing along.
2.     Fill the kettle and set the oven heating to 180C. Tip your pasta into a small saucepan.
3.     Chop your hazelnuts up into pieces and pop onto a baking tray or in a small ovenproof dish.
4.     Once the kettle boils, fill your pasta pan with water and set boiling for ten minutes. Safely transport your hazelnuts into the oven to toast for ten minutes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: For my pasta, I used an organic spinach trottole that I found in Aldi. Most tasty. You can sub this for any pasta you like, though, anything your heart desires!

5.     While you have ten minutes to kill, you can get some prep done! Use this time to: chop your fresh herbs, defrost your soya beans (if using) in the microwave, drain your tinned peas (and butterbeans, if using), crush your clove of garlic, grate the zest of your half lemon into a bowl, and then squeeze the lemon juice into a second bowl.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Keep an eye on your nuts to make sure they don’t burn in the oven!
6.     Once your ten minutes are up, remove your toasted nuts from the oven and turn this off. Set the nuts aside to cool. Remove your pasta from the heat and turn this off. Reserve a few tablespoons of the cooking water in a mug and then drain your cooked pasta.
7.     Now it’s time to prepare the asparagus. Get the kettle boiling again and rinse out your saucepan. Cut your asparagus into bite-sized pieces and add to the saucepan, along with a teaspoon of salt.
8.     Once the kettle boils, fill your pan with water and set boiling for 3 minutes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: You have 3 minutes to whizz around setting the table and topping up your drink… go go go!
9.     Test an asparagus spear for doneness - it should still be crispy, not limp. If this is the case, drain your pan and refill with cold water. Chuck in a handful of ice cubes – this is a cooking technique called blanching and it’s designed to shock your asparagus! Why?

10.  As your asparagus cools, heat the butter in a frying pan or wok. Add the garlic and fry for one minute.
11.  Drain your asparagus and add to the pan, along with the peas, soya/butter beans and spinach leaves. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, until the spinach has wilted slightly.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Now would be a good time to stick a plate in the microwave to warm for a couple of minutes.
12.  Add the cooked pasta and a little of the cooking water to the pan and stir to combine.
13.  Stir in the lemon juice and zest and the fresh herbs and season, to taste, with salt and ground black pepper.
14.  Once heated through and well mixed, remove from the heat and plate up your pasta.
15.  Sprinkle over the hazelnuts and parmesan, and drizzle with olive oil. You can tuck in!

What a plateful!

And that’s all there is to it, readers! What do you make of this recipe? And of pasta primevara?? I thought this was a really tasty tea! I know this is something I say ALL THE TIME but when you make the effort to properly use herbs and seasoning and whatnot, instead of reaching for a shop bought sauce, food does taste loads better.

This recipe required more effort than I’d normally put in on a weekday night – grating and crushing and blanching – but it was all worth it when I sat down with a big plateful of tasty, green goodness. Can I tempt you, readers? Might you give this past a try? If you do – please let me know how you get on! IS the recipe easy to follow? Does everything go to plan in the kitchen? Do you like the food? Let me know! As ever, readers, all feedback is WELCOMED.

Take care of yourselves on these bright summer nights, readers, and remember… do-be-have.  Not 'do behave'. Never behave, readers. But do-be-have.

Blanch safely,


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