Kale and Walnut Pesto – low FODMAP

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This is an extremely tasty and well tolerated addition to the traditional basil and garlic pesto taught to me by my friend Lauren. All quantities are approximate!

Ingredients – amended as of 12/08/15

I bunch of washed Kale leaves (stripped from their tough stems)
1 – 1&1/2 cup Walnuts or a mix of Walnuts and Almonds
1/2- 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Slosh of garlic infused olive oil (here in Australia I use Cobram Estate’s product)
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 -1/2 cup  lemon juice (juice from 4 small lemons)
100g pecorino or parmesan cheese, in small chunks or grated

Method

Stuff the kale and salt into the bowl of a large food processor. Process until finely chopped.

Adding the walnuts to the chopped kale
Adding the walnuts to the chopped kale

Add the rest of the ingredients and process until a paste forms. If the paste does not form a fairly smooth consistency that can be spooned into a dish, add more olive oil and/or lemon juice to suit your taste. This pesto should be quite lively and the lemon should be a dominant flavour.

When you are happy with the consistency, you will have a LARGE bowl of pesto. You can use this on gluten free pasta, as a dip, on sandwiches, to mix with gluten free breadcrumbs as a stuffing and for many other uses. I mainly use mine on pasta and as a dip with gluten free crackers (in moderation).

Kale Pesto frozen in glass container
Kale Pesto frozen in glass container

To keep it fresh place the amount you will use in the next two or three days in a bowl
in the refrigerator covered with olive oil and then with cling film. I freeze the rest in little containers – just enough for one recipe so I always have some on hand!  Here is some that I have frozen….

While nuts should only be eaten in moderation on a low FODMAP diet (excluding pistachios and cashews which should be avoided entirely), the amount of nuts and hard cheese per serving here should not pose a problem. If you find the pesto too “nut rich” and/or the cheese is a problem, you can always reduce the nuts, omit the cheese and just make a lemony kale and olive oil sauce/paste in the same way: or  simply add more kale. 

Defrosted Kale Pesto
Defrosted Kale Pesto

Low FODMAP Grilled Mediterranean Marinated Vegetables (and Pasta Salad)

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Low FODMAP Grilled Mediterranean Marinated Vegetables

More of a recipe idea than a recipe, this recipe for marinated grilled FODMAP friendly vegetables gives a versatile dish that can be used in many ways. As a dish in its own right, as an accompaniment to meat or fish or used in the second recipe below to create a tasty substantial pasta salad. It is also of course gluten-free!

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant
1 red capsicum
Vinaigrette made from 75ml white balsamic or other mild vinegar, 50ml garlic oil and salt and pepper.
Spray canola oil

Method;

Wash and cut the ends off the zucchini and eggplant. Wash and core the red pepper.  Using either a mandolin or sharp cook’s knife slice the eggplant and zucchini lengthwise into 1/2 – 1 cm slices. Cut the red pepper into large pieces.

Lay the red pepper on a baking paper covered tray and cook on the top shelf of the oven on 200C until the skin is blistered and blackened in places. Remove and place in a bowl. Cover with cling film, and leave until cool. The blistered skin will then peel easily.

Spray a ridged grill pan with oil. On a medium to high heat grill the slices of eggplant and zucchini on each side, turning once. Spray with oil before turning over. The zucchini should still have some body but the eggplant slices should be soft. Continue until all slices are grilled. Place in a dish or plate and pour over the vinaigrette whilst still warm. Add the slices of peeled red pepper. Mix the slices so all are covered with vinaigrette. Leave until cool.

These can be eaten as a salad, an accompaniment to meat, or used in the following salad.

Low FODMAP Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 packet gluten free short pasta cooked until al dente
Handful of pitted kalamata olives
The green part ONLY of one spring onion
1/2 of the recipe for Grilled Mediterranean Marinated Vegetables above
50g toasted pine nuts/pumpkin kernels
Juices from the grilled vegetable recipe above.
Grated or shaved parmesan cheese to taste.

Method:

Slice the vegetables into long strips and then in half. Place in serving dish. Slice the spring onion top finely and add to the dish along with the other ingredients. Add the juices from the marinated vegetable recipe above. Stir well and grate some parmesan cheese over the top.

This is a very versatile recipe, and you can of course add other ingredients such as cubes of haloumi or feta cheese, substitute the vinaigrette for some garlic free pesto, or add cubes of roasted jap pumpkin instead of the vegetables.

NB. All information regarding suitable low FODMAP ingredients is sourced from the Monash University (Australia) reference book (ed. 5) and App.

Crazy Pasta! (Or “una pazza storia di maccheroni ed immigrazione”)

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Or "a crazy story of macaroni and immigration"

(Most of the following relates to Victoria, so if you know more about crazy pasta, feel free to comment on the post.)

The story of pasta in Victoria, where I am from, is crazy.  Currently it is a sign of superiority, culture and knowledge to understand good pasta from bad. To at the very least to get the distinction between fresh and dried.  To know your buccatini from your conchiglie, your farfalle from your fusilli and to boast about the pasta you whipped up for your friends on the weekend.  This is new. 

The 1970s saw dried pasta recipes in most cookbooks but also the rise of that shaker container of Kraft “Parmesan” that smelled like dried vomit .

Kraft "Parmesan" cheese
Kraft “Parmesan” cheese

Until the 1960s pasta came in a can,  was often generically called “macaroni” or used in bizarre ways I describe below. Before that pasta was only ever really eaten by Italians and other Europeans (who make other forms of pasta).

The “macaroni” served to the refugees and migrants at Bonegilla (the migrant camp in Victoria in the 40s and 50s) was sadder.  It served as a message that they were very far from home, that they weren’t understood and that they weren’t yet in control of their own destinies. And when you are far from home, and a bit lost, all you want is a bowl of your favourite food.

Pasta before 1930

Italian food was not unknown in Victoria before 1930. There were several good Italian cafés and restaurants in Melbourne in the 1920s and 1930s: in particular five establishments: Molina’s, Café Latin (part owned by Nello Borghesi who opened La Tosca pasta producers in1947) the Society, Café Florentino and Mario’s. Some of these or their descendants exist today. They served the (small) local Italian community and Melbourne cafe society as well.  I can’t find advertisements for pasta for sale to the public during this period, (although handcrafted Italian furniture was advertised from the 1880s) so perhaps these restaurants were importing pasta or semolina directly or making all their own pasta from local flour.

Australian newspaper readers were reliably informed about the centrality of pasta to Italian cuisine, at least according to an article in the Adelaide Advertiser in 1935. This article, about Italian soldiers in Abbyssinia, was correct in many respects and describes different types of pasta types but then uses “macaroni” to describe all pasta eaten by Italians. It does dictate the correct glutinous wheat needed however, which is “unlike the soft tender wheat we know in Australia”.

The 1933 “New Standard Cookery” (a large household manual) was used and sold in Australia but printed in Great Britain. It includes recipes for mostly standard English cookery, but unusually includes a section on Jewish cookery, one on vegetarian cookery, some French, Hungarian and Russian dishes and a hair raising section on “Australian cookery” (roasted wallaby anyone?). It does include 4 recipes for pasta.  3 savoury and one sweet and all rather authentic, except for this constant theme of boiling the pasta til it’s dead (30 mins). The recipes are:

  • Macaroni a la Creme (in a creamy mushroom and stock sauce)
  • Macaroni a la Teddie (bechamel sauce flavoured with ham, fried onion and tomato sauce or fresh tomato in season)
  • Spaghetti Veronese (par boiled spaghetti cooked in canned tomato, chopped peppers, pimento, cheese, pork and cayenne)
  • Vermicelli pudding. (A baked custard cooked in a bain marie flavoured with vanilla or orange flower water and thickened with vermicelli.  But tellingly it says “semolina pudding is made in the same way as the foregoing recipe”. Ie any starch will do.

The 1937 Elsternwick Presbyterian cookbook, a much smaller publication, does not include any pasta recipes, sweet or savoury.

Pasta in the 40s – inside and outside the Italian community

Up until the 1940s and 1950s, to white Australians who hadn’t been to Europe, pasta was something else, almost like rice or sago! It was almost universally regarded as something that you boiled til it was dead, mixed with white sauce and spam or chicken, or just white sauce(!) and baked – or as a stodgy extender/filler for sandwiches, baked custards and other sweet dishes. I suspect the most popular recipe in the 1933 New Standard Cookery was the one for Vermicelli pudding.

In the 1940s, Rinoldi Macaroni Products produced a recipe book to promote its products. It took the view that there was no recipe that a little (or a lot) of pasta (hey why don’t we just call it all macaroni??) couldn’t improve.  Hence we get delicious

“Spaghetti scones” –  just like ordinary scones, but with cooked spaghetti, grated cheese and 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce in the middle. There were also some delicious fillings for open sandwiches at a child’s birthday party such as:

Rinoldi Recipe Book
Preparing and Serving Macaroni Dishes
  • plain cooked Rinoldi spaghetti and tomato sauce (White Crow?); and
  • Macaroni cheese filling (combine white sauce, cooked cold macaroni, salt, pepper, cayenne, mustard and grated cheese).

There were some basic recipes for pasta bakes of spaghetti with cheese and tomato puree, but the emphasis was on the stodge and the quantities of tomato puree used were very small. However there WAS an attempt to introduce the idea of Italian style dining to the Australian home! Rinoldi’s book suggests that everyone serve themselves from a large bowl of pasta in the middle of the table – heresy!

New ideas for serving pasta
New ideas for serving pasta

And the lead recipe in this section is a recipe with a long history – macaroni and cheese…It’s quite a good recipes for baked pasta too (send me a comment if you want it). The recipe for macaroni and cheese goes back for centuries, but had been very popular in the USA for some decades. Perhaps this was the reason for a relatively authentic inclusion in Rinoldi’s book?

However the recipes for Italian pasta sauce at the end of the book made me hold my head in my hands and scream, “no, no”! If they were written by an Italian he should have had his passport taken away. They read, and I have to show them because otherwise you might not believe me.

Suggestions for Italian sauces
Suggestions for sauces

Maybe I am too used to reducing a couple of cans of tomatoes or a jar of passata to make a sauce,  maybe I don’t take into account that this recipe is post war (mid 1940s), but I don’t think that a tablespoon of tomato extract and a cup of hot water and going to produce that authentic “Italian” taste! Many Australians grew tomatoes in their back gardens anyway because of the war effort, so a couple more in the sauce was hardly going to break the bank was it??!

However things were changing. Having fled to Daylesford during the war, the Borghesi family returned and founded a little company called La Tosca in 1947 supplying its own sugo, “Sugodoro” and fresh pasta to restaurants, and eventually to the public through the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It then had to compete with the American canned pasta and diversified. The company still exists today.

Sugodoro
Sugodoro canned tomato sauce label

Bonegilla

Post war refugees and assisted migrants in Victoria, including the Italians, were placed in a camp in Bonegilla from 1947 through the 1960s. Plentiful food was provided and although many refugees had never eaten so much, there were many complaints about the food. The pasta in particular was unpalatable to many of the Italians. While pasta was often on the menu as “macaroni” it was overcooked (boil it until it’s dead then cook it some more!) and served with a “grey coloured” sauce. There was a LOT of mutton on the menu so maybe this was some kind of mutton stew sauce….. There is a story (no doubt apocryphal) that trouble was caused at one point when a lot of sugar was added to the sauce (sugo) and a riot broke out! Afterwards, the Italians were said to have been charged with cooking the pasta.

I don't like spaghetti!
I don’t like spaghetti!

There were definitely riots over the pasta at Bonegilla. Young Italian men complained that Australians put a sauce “absolutely unknown in Italy” on “almost everything” – this could have been the “grey” sauce or perhaps White Crow Tomato Sauce…. However, although sweet, this would have had to have been better than mutton sauce…..During one fight with the Director of Bonegilla during which the Director declared he would “never eat spaghetti!”, 600 angry young men threw their plates of spaghetti on the ground in front of the director’s house. Italian chefs were then put in charge. (I am beginning to think that previous story isn’t apocryphal after all….)

The 1956 Olympics

The Italian team arrived for the 1956 Olympic Melbourne Games and must have sussed out the situation on the ground before they came. Some of the restaurants previously mentioned still existed, although some had been under attack as “enemy aliens” during WW2. There were a few cafés in Lygon St, Melbourne, such as Cafe Sport and University Cafe which served real pasta – up until 6pm. Opening hours were then temporarily extended for the duration of the Games. Some brought their own chefs such as Giorgio Angele. He was a pastry chef who stayed and prospered after the Games and later took over the famed Brunetti cafe in modern Lygon St. God knows what the rest of the team thought of the “pasta” in other non-Italian restaurants.

The 1960s and beyond

While Australians with the taste for it, like my mother, used to go and buy ravioli and other pasta from small local shops in Italian areas in the mid 1960s, this was not common. Some brave and “cosmopolitan” home cooks in the 1960s dished pasta up with (bottled) tomato sauce and cheddar. By and large

La Tosca Ravioli in a can
La Tosca Ravioli in a can

though, it was called “macaroni” and treated it an entirely different way to that of Italy and other European countries. As interest increased, canned pasta became more popular and La Tosca retailed several products including ravioli in a can.

The 1970s

The 1970s saw pasta, mostly dried pasta, become very popular. Spaghetti Bolognese, was a typical family dinner, with the recipe secured from the Womens Weekly cookbook. Though as my friend Ian pointed out, everyone’s Mum would cook it, sometimes test it by throwing it against the kitchen wall (if it stuck, it was cooked) and then rinse the cooked spaghetti in the colander under a running tap in the sink. I still don’t know why…..

And everyone but everyone in Australia must have eaten canned spaghetti in a jaffle at some point.

Until the day he died in 2007 my father called all pasta “macaroni” or at a pinch “vermicelli” and loved it best baked in custard (with or without canned pineapple). I never understood – I do now. And I am sure he was not the only one of his generation who asked for these sweet pasta dishes. In fact Rinoldi’s book (and 1933 book) have several recipes for baked macaroni and vermicelli custards.

And now – you don’t have to be on Masterchef to make pasta

I really didn’t think there was a need for a modern recipe on this post.  We are now (ironically) overloaded with recipes for pasta! However I was asked for one, so I will just give you the proportions I use: 1 large egg to 100g of tipo 00 pasta flour (available at many delis and supermarkets). Don’t use cake (plain flour) as there isn’t enough gluten in it and your pasta will fall apart.  You can then use a food processor or make it by hand if you are feeling contemplative.

To make it in a food processor:

Crack say 2 eggs and 200g flour in the food processor and pulse until it forms a ball. Make sure all the flour is incorporated. Tip it onto a clean bench and knead it a little until it forms a springy elastic ball. Wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge for half an hour or so to rest.

To make it by hand:

Put the flour in a pile on a clean bench. Make a well in the centre and crack both eggs into it. Scramble them a little with a fork and then use the fork to gradually pull in the flour to eggs to make a paste. When all the eggs are incorporated, start to mix and knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth and elastic. Some kids like this method better – like play dough! Put in fridge as before. (This was the method I learnt in a pasta making course in Florence Italy. Yes, I brag. I would add the picture of the handsome Italian chef and I rolling the pasta but it’s

Pasta making by hand
Pasta making by hand

not flattering – he’s prettier than I am!) But here is a picture of us mixing the eggs and flour on the marble bench.  Aaaaaggghhh!

To roll it out:

Use about 1/8 of the pasta dough at a time and put it through a pasta machine on the widest roller, folding it in thirds and rolling it, and folding it in thirds, and rolling it, until it is smooth and silky. You can dust it with a bit of flour if it sticks, but don’t use much, and as it becomes silky, start reducing the roller size gradually until it gets thin.  Then feed it through the cutting rollers into fettuccine. Alternatively you can just use a rolling pin to roll it thinly, and cut it into ribbons with a sharp knife OR tear it into small pieces (“rags”). (This was also the method used by the Italian chef. The message is, don’t make simple things complicated).

Put it straight into a pot of boiling salty water and lift it out when it comes to the top (2 minutes). Dress with your favourite sauce or simply with good olive oil and garlic (pasta aglio olio).

I will say, as Molly does, do yourself a favour…. Buy a hand crank pasta machine, make some dough in the food processor (5 mins tops) and get the kids involved. 8 year old boys have a lot of strength in their little arms to turn that handle……. And 2 eggs makes a hell of a lot of fettuccine. Eat it fast or hang it on that indoor clothes line for a quick dry.