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Vegetable Pasta Bake

14 Mar

There is a Maltese dish which is loved by all Maltese kids that I know. Its commonly called “Macaroni” and is an amazing dish that uses tinned corned beef, tomatoes, eggs, cheese and pasta to create a mouth wateringly simple dish that is in its own world. Since I have moved to more ethical food choices, it is probably the dish I miss the most. It reminds me of my childhood, and my grandma, and the textures of the dish are just so fantastic, that you cant even begin to understand unless you have some!

This vegetable pasta bake was my attempt at finding a good substitute for “macaroni”, but sadly it failed by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, its a lovely dish in its own right, but its no macaroni. Regardless of my disappointment, it was till lovely and deserves a moment in the spotlight. (But if you know how I can possibly eat beef and still be ethical, Id love to hear from you.. *sob sigh*).

[  Serves: 6  |  Time: 1hr 30min  |  Cost: $8  ]

Ingredients

1 packet macaroni pasta
1 tin tomatoes
1 zucchini
1 onion
1 carrot
2 celery sticks
½ red capsicum
½ ltr vegetable stock
2 eggs
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
handful olives
handful Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
4 bay leaves
splash olive oil

Method

  1. Chop all vegetables into bite size pieces. (See photo 1 below for a guide). Add the oil to a pan and bring up to temperature. Sauté the garlic and onions until cooked. De-glaze the pan with the wine and cook off before adding the rest of the vegetables, tomatoes and herbs. Add the stock and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer over a low temperature for an hour.
  2. In a large pot, bring 2 – 3 litres of water to the boil (photo 2 below). Add a good pinch of salt before adding the pasta. Cook for 10 minutes, but check the pasta frequently. It is very important not to over cook the pasta. It should be removed and rinsed in water when ALMOST but not quite al dente. (Yup, that’s right – slightly undercooked!)
  3. After an hour, the vegetables should be cooked, and the sauce should have condensed (photo 3 below). Remove from the heat. At this stage, discard the bay leaves and olives.
  4. In a large baking tray, carefully mix the vegetable sauce and pasta together. Beat the eggs and pour gently over the top. Sprinkle with cheese and gently turn through – do not over mix.
  5. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 – 30 minutes. It is ready when the top is crispy but the pasta underneath is cooked to perfection and still moist and soft. Devour instantly!

Observations

  • This type of pasta is very difficult to get. I certainly cant get it here in Ballina. It is usually available from continental grocery stores or produce markets. When I go to Sydney, I buy about 15 packets.
  • Diabetic Note: I have to admit, my BGLs were a little high. Just a teeny weeny bit. Perhaps have a small serving of pasta and a salad on the side if you are really worried. Be careful of your oil – its very easy for a splash of olive oil to end up as a guzzle. 
  • Ethical Note: It frustrates me a lot that its very difficult to get Australian made macaroni pasta. The carbon miles of Italian pasta (regardless of how delicious it is) makes me shudder. The moment I find a more local substitute, I will switch.
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4 responses to “Vegetable Pasta Bake

  1. DR Quantum's Blog

    March 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

    You can’t eat beef and be ethical. It’s impossible. I looked into the eyes of a cow and it was love at first sight. Not love at first bite. The correct care and treatment of cows is that you look after them, maybe collect a little raw milk. Then . . .If you’re in USA wait for the Dept of Ag or FDA or FBI to raid your RAW MILK operation and then when you’ve gone to jail or been bankrupted for selling RAW MILK – which is reputed to be very good for you – you can go on the talk show circuit and make millions from writing the book if you live to tell the tale. So simple really.

    In this country (Australia) you have to call the milk Cleopatra’s Bath Milk and if the inspector comes around to your Sunshine Coast Hinterland Co-Op shop pretending to be a customer and asks if it’s OK to drink the bath milk . . .you can either a) lie about the whole thing and say no you can’t drink it, it’s just for bathing or b) Tell them you can drink it and that not only is it good for you but it’s much better than the crap which they heat up to high temperatures which has been shown to cause cancer because of the thermolyzed (heated up) Casein in the milk . . .you see once upon a time before they invented refrigeration people died from drinking milk that had high levels of some bacterium in it. . . .but now that we have passed THROUGH the 20th century and entered . . .hard to believe it . . .the 21st Century . . .good grief we are finding new ways to stuff up milk by processing the bejesus out of it. But don’t let those Department of Agriculture inspectors catch you selling the healthy raw variety. You’ll be in trouble with the law . . .

     
    • mizrhi

      March 15, 2012 at 10:56 am

      well said. I know beef is unethical, in almost every single sense of the word. It was The comment was more a dig at the fact that some people can claim its ethical because they exist naturally in the world. So does dog poop, but I don’t eat that either! I don’t believe there is anything ethical at all about beef and I’ve reduced my milk consumption to just cheese. (I have really struggled with giving up cheese!)

      The hard part for me is finding that texture that I need. Joe and I have just decided that once the freezer is empty of the free ranged chicken we have, we wont be buying any more meat. Consciously, we both struggle with the taking of life to nourish our own. How can it be so good for my body but so bad for my soul? I am hoping the transition is an easy one cause we have been on this ethical eating journey for almost two years now and slowly, we have reduced our meat in take as a whole. I have to learn to cook more meals with legumes – that is the challenge!

       
      • DR Quantum's Blog

        March 15, 2012 at 11:19 am

        This is a very relevant topic. You may find it very hard to give up eating meat altogether. My personal reality around this is to become conscious around the eating of whatever it is . . .meat OR vegies. If you do eat meat then by all means take CARE to find sources of production that are ethical. To my own way of thinking I can see that in the natural world animals like chickens, or even sheep are going to get eaten from time to time. It’s the food chain. In the wild . . .when an animal is being killed by another animal for food APPARENTLY according to trusted sources that I have read (Steiner) they have a sense of knowing that this is part of the natural order of life and are not as freaked out by it as we humans might imagine. If people DO eat animals I strongly believe in applying a couple of principles 1) Seek out and support organic, free range growers. Pay the extra and if need be EAT LESS of it because of the higher cost 2) If you can get your head and your heart together have some kind of energetic focus to thank the life being eaten (vegetables are alive too you know) and thank the universe (If you have a God then He/She will do nicely). This giving of thanks for what we eat actually quantumizes the food. It rearranges the atomic and sub-atomic particules in such a way as the being holidaying on the beach of the fractal universe inside the food sees the ocean turn a more inviting shade of blue/green and makes them want to swim in the refreshing waters of that hidden tropical paradise. Laugh if you want to . . .this is exactly what happens. Also it does change the food and your holographic relationship to it. Bottom line . . .you’re now vibrating in the parallel universe of love and not of mindless killing of life. You work it out!

         
      • mizrhi

        March 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

        The approach you explain is not too unlike my own. We excluded beef from our diet first, as it is the single most environmentally damaging food substance we deal with. Then, we excluded mass produced chicken as the industry sicked us. We switched to free range as a better alternative but now even that isn’t sitting well with us. Pork production is just a plain cruel excuse for profit. There is so much wrong with meat production that its a huge topic in its own right and debates could span weeks.

        I realise that vegetables were also living things grown for our benefit, but they aren’t sentient beings so aren’t treated with the same respect. I am pagan, so I thank the great mother at my sabbats for her bounties. I follow the harvest calendar of the year, respecting the tithes there. I don’t believe this alters the food but I do believe that it is an action of respect and thanks that I freely partake in, and THAT in its self makes me feel good about it.

        As always with your comments, they are so thought provoking. Thank you so much for contributing!

         

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