Student-Friendly Pesto Tagliattele with Porcini “Bacon”

As a student,

No scrap that.

As a human, nothing better satisfies those salty cravings like some crispy bacon piled high on a plate of pasta. Nothing.

This vegan-friendly recipe uses meaty porcini mushrooms as “bacon” and uses whatever else you have left in the cupboard. Better still, it can be whipped up in around 20 minutes. This dish is what’s been what’s getting me through these dark January evenings back at Uni and in the past week alone I must have had it at least 3 times. That’s a lot of cravings satiated.

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Ingredients (serves 1)

75g of dry tagliatelle pasta

A big tbl scoop of pesto (use “free from” if vegan)

One large porcini mushroom

30g of pine nuts (about a small handful)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp smoked salt (or replace with regular salt if you have none if you have none)

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200℃
  2. Wash and dry the porcini mushroom and slice thinly, around 1cm, but the thinner the better.
  3. Toss the slices in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and then arrange pieces on baking parchment.
  4. Roast the mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes, watching carefully throughout to make sure they don’t burn.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil (no need to add salt; the “bacon” is salty enough). With 6 minutes to spare add the tagliatelle, stirring periodically to make sure the strands don’t stick together.
  6. At the same time add the pine nuts to the baking parchment. After 5 minutes they should be nicely brown and toasted and flavoursome.
  7. Drain the pasta and stir through your pesto, topping with mushrooms and pine nuts.
  8. Grab a fork and chow down.

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Polish Rib Stew (Żeberka)

Once the 1st of September has passed then mum allows me to discontinue wearing shorts and sandals, and to begin wearing boots and hats and scarves. You have no idea how cold I have been while this seasonal legislation has been in force.

Being allowed to wear warm clothes means that it is officially Autumn and that means that it is the time to go oven-happy and start cooking Big Ol’ Hearty Meals.

Like this:

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The only time I’ve ever come across slow-cooked spare ribs is when my Babcia (Grandma) used to cook it for the whole family. The stew is so brilliantly hearty and worth cooking just for the meaty, bubbling smell!

Because you use tomato puree for this dish, rather than tinnned tomatoes, the sauce gets this kind of smokey flavour that really complements the sweetness of the carrots and pork (that’s falling off the bone.)

But the real beauty of this dish is that it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and then you forget about it till dinner time!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

Packet of 12 spare pork ribs

flour

3 tbs vegetable oil

3 medium onions, roughly chopped

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

5 tbs tomato concentrate

salt and pepper

1 tsp dried sage

4 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  2. On a plate, use flour to coat each of the spare ribs.
  3. Heat the oil ion a high heat in a large, heavy based frying pan. Fry the coated ribs for a couple minutes on each side or until brown.
  4. Place the ribs, carrots, onion, tomato puree, sage and bay leaves into a large casserole dish. Mix, then pour in water till ingredients are all just covered.
  5. Cover with a lid. Put in the oven and leave for at least 2 hours. Keep checking on consistency of sauce: it should be about the thickness of yoghurt. If it gets too dry then add more water.
  6. Serve with rice or kasza (buckwheat) and enjoy!

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Marrow Jam

We have a problem.
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Marrow overload.

At this point I should explain that the family is currently in its 5th year of tending for (a very overgrown) vegetable patch, and in that time it has become apparent that one vegetable proliferates and grows like it is on steroids. You guessed it: the marrow.

Since going to University Dad has taken full control of our little plot and has decided to turn our garden into a haven for these monster squashes. On returning home I was greeted by about two dozen vegetables, each over 5kg. Scary.

So how to use up these Frankensteins? Make them into jam of course!

This may sound quite strange but just bear with me. When people use the word “interesting” to describe a taste, they normally say it while crinkling their noses. But this jam is a good “interesting.” It tastes sickly sweet yet has a quite rounded flavour and a really lovely butter-soft texture. Perfect on rye bread and washed down with a cup of English Breakfast tea.

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Ingredients (makes about 2 kg)

2 kg marrow flesh

Rind and juice of 2 lemons

2 kg sugar

Instructions

  1. Peel your marrow (approx 2.5kg to start off with) and remove pith and seeds. The flesh should weigh 2kg.
  2. Dice the marrow. I like my jam pretty chunky so I do 3cm cubes.
  3. Put a steamer and cook for 5-10 mins depending on size of pieces, until just tender.
  4. Leave the cooked marrow in a bowl together with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
  5. Boil mixture over a gentle heat till sugar has dissolved and then continue till the marrow is translucent and the syrup is thick. Takes 30-40 minutes.
  6. Carefully pour/spoon into hot, sterilised jars and leave to cool completely before slathering onto toast.

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