Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Pasta e Funghi alla Goktor!

Servings: 2

Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 25 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

1 large can tomatoes
200g fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion(s)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon low-fat plain fromage frais
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil (shredded)
½ tablespoon mixed Italian herbs
300g cooked pasta
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the sugo: Finely chop the onion, and gently sauté in the oil in a large pan or wok until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and mix in well (if you add the garlic before now, it will turn bitter and also risks burning).

Continue to sauté on a low heat while you prepare the mushrooms; wipe off any growing medium with a piece of kitchen roll, and then slice finely. Add to onion and garlic mix, increase the heat and cook off for about five minutes, keeping the food moving all the time to prevent burning and sticking (I use two spatulas for this as it makes life much easier!). Add all of the herbs except the basil.

Once the mushrooms have browned, reduce the heat to its lowest setting once more, add the tin of tomatoes and stir in well. (You could use fresh plum toms if you prefer but in all honesty, good tinned ones are just as acceptable, and much less bother.) Simmer on a low heat for around five minutes, and then stir in the tablespoon of low-fat fromage frais. Continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add the shredded fresh basil just before serving, and check for seasoning.

Cook the pasta: In the meantime, cook the pasta according to its instructions until it is al dente – you need this slight bite to it because it will continue to cook for a couple of minutes once the sugo is added to it. If you cook it until it’s completely soft, it will become overcooked at the final stage.

Drain the pasta once it is done, and place into two warmed dishes. Divide the sugo between them. (Normally I would mix the pasta and sugo together and then serve up, but I think that by doing it separately, it’s easier to check that everything is divided equally, thus making it easier to calculate the calories.)

To veganize: Substitute the fromage frais for low-fat plain soya yoghurt. I suspect it will be just as creamy but I can’t verify this because I have a soy intolerance at the moment. If anyone does use the soy yog, please email me to let me know whether it works! (nicole AT nicolelestrange DOT com)

A note about pasta: I used a good-quality dried spaghetti for this recipe, which works really well, but it’s entirely down to personal preference as to which type/shape you use. Just remember however, that if you opt for fresh pasta, it will alter the calorie value of this meal.

A note about herbs: Whilst it is always best to use fresh herbs (not just because of the flavour but also for the vitamins etc.), if you don’t have them, it’s okay to use dried ones, provided they’re less than a couple of months old. It’s really not worth keeping them any longer than this as you lose so much flavour. If using dried, halve the amount called for in the recipe because the drying process intensifies them. If using frozen herbs, use the same amount as for fresh.

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