I can eat pasta every day. Literally every day and for every meal. I don’t think I will ever tire from having pasta.
I am totally in love with Italy and all things Italian, especially the food culture and Mediterranean flavours. The past two years I’ve travelled to different parts of Italy as part of my school’s annual residential visits (I’m a teacher) and every time I either learn a new flavour or I come across a new pasta type that I hadn’t had before. This year, in Sicily, I found Busiate, a tightly wound coil-like pasta that is perfect with a meaty sauce.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find busiate here in England so I’ve had to make do with some Fusilli to make this pasta salad with a Mediterranean twist.
This dish is perfect as a side salad at a braai or as part of your Summertime Sunday lunch.
If you liked this salad recipe, why not try one of these:
Debra Levinson was spot on when she said:
“One of the great joys of traveling through Italy is discovering firsthand that it is, indeed, a dream destination.”
Italy is the dream destination for the majority of us. Ever since I could remember, Italy had been on the top of my bucket list and even though I’ve been so very fortunate enough to have visited this beautiful country three times now, I still want to go back for more. I just cannot get enough!Read More
Have I mentioned that I am pretty privileged when it comes to seeing the world and visiting new places? As you may or may not know, I am a teacher and as part of my school’s culture we take our students on an annual residential trip somewhere in the world for an entire week.Read More
A couple of weeks ago I was privileged enough to join a fantastic group of colleagues and students on a trip to Sicily.
We started our 6 day adventure on the foot of Mount Etna and as the time progressed we slowly made our way towards Agrigento and finally stopping in Palermo before our flight back to the UK.
Read: Sicily: Discovering Etna
Here are some of the highlights of our fleeting visit:
In Siculiana is the Castello Chiaramonte; a beautiful castle that overlooks the Siculiana landscape. This charming castle originally had been an ancient Arab castle until it was rebuilt by Frederico Chiaramonte. In 1311 Frederico’s only daughter, Constanza, got married here and ever since it has been a place of celebration.
This was probably one of my favourite parts of the trip. One our second to last morning we headed out as early as we could. Not quite at the crack of dawn, but pretty close. We not only wanted to beat the heat, but also the crowds as we headed towards the Valley of the Temples. Or as the Italians say: Valle dei Templi.
The Valley of the Temples (not in a valley at all as it is on a hill!) is apparently one of the best preserved archeological sites involving ancient Greek temples. This also includes those in Greece itself.
We listened intently to the history at Hera’s Temple. We immersed ourselves into the story of the Goddess of Marriage and Family. Suddenly the couple next to our group embraced each other before we realised that the guy proposed and she said yes! It was so exciting as it was literally the most romantic spot and very apt. It was clear that she didn’t expect the proposal, but they were definitely happy.
We moved from temple to temple, listening intently to our very animated guide. We finally came to the Temple of Concordia and here, as a Maths teacher, I learnt how extraordinary the Greeks were when it came to Mathematics: Not only did they build their temples with strength and practicality in mind, they also thought of the aesthetics. They realised that our eyes are curved and if they were to build something with straight lines our eyes will make it appear as if the structure is curved, so they build the floor at a slight pitch towards the middle and each column is built 2.5 degrees further out than the previous. We now see the building with a straight floor and parallel columns. Extraordinary, isn’t it?!
I would very much love to go back to this beautiful city. As the Capital of Sicily, Palermo not only has a rich history, but is also oozing with culture. We literally only had an hour to walk around this picturesque city before we had to depart for the airport, but it was truly worth the visit.
One of the memorable historic tales is that of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Both were judges (and friends) that tried to overthrow the Sicilian Mafia. The Mafia responded by assassinating Giovanni Falcone in the most dramatic way possible – blowing up the highway on which he travelled. Paolo Borsellino was assassinated 57 days later in a carbomb near his mother’s home. If your are on your way to or from the airport and you are travelling on Highway A29, you will see the memorials on either side of the road commemorating those that have lost their lives. You’ll also notice that the airport in Palermo has been named after these two judges.
Explore the world with me!
In South Africa I’ve been very privileged to grow up in a house where my parents bought avocados by the case. Once the short avocado season has hit, the race was on to see how many of these beautiful fruits we could stuff into our faces. We ate them with anything and everything and, best of all, we never grew tired of them!Read More
If there is one thing in life that I truly love, then it is the art of good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be great (although I’m not opposed to that!). Sometimes it is the simple dishes that you remember the most.
The Hubby and I spent a day and a half in Vienna on a short little weekend break. Not only did we walk for miles on end, we also ensured that we consumed way more calories than what was needed to sustain life…
Here’s a little taste of our adventurous weekend:Read More
Whenever I hear the word Summer, I can hear the sizzling sounds of meat cooking on the fire. I smell the alluring smoke from the braai that brings the promise of a good plate of food when I come to dine al fresco in my back garden in the late midday sun. The clinging of ice cubes invite you to come closer as it sing their happy song in a glistening pitcher of homemade Pimms.Read More
It has been weeks’ worth of planning. All I wanted was the most romantic weekend away in one of the most romanticised cities in the world. It is therefore only logical that it is pouring outside. How truly disappointing!
Nevertheless, we are determined to make the most of this beautiful city! So here we go…Read More
Spring is here! The days are getting longer and flowers are starting to bud. The excitement of the nearing BBQ season is almost tangible as everyone around me seems to get increasingly more happy as the days grow longer.
I absolutely love serving salads as part of our dinner in the evening, however, I do like to keep things interesting as I would hate for it to become just another side-dish that have to be consumed just because it is healthy.Read More
You often see these extreme health and safety picture meme’s with the caption ‘Only in Africa’ (Read: Only in Africa) and truth be told some of these (if not all) are very true. On the other hand there are times when the South Africans are totally ingenious and I’ve identified 6 things I truly love about South Africa.
You read correctly. Nearby my parents’ home is a really big Checkers Hyper (Sort of like a Tesco Extra) and at the entrance you pick up your shopping trolley. As you enter the store there is a Wet Wipe station where you can take a Wet Wipe and wipe the trolley’s handle bar before continuing into the store. I thought that was a truly ingenious brainwave for germophobes like me!
For the carnivores out there: you haven’t seen a butchery until you’ve seen a truly South African butchery. They have sections for everything: a rump section, sirloin section, a boerewors section, a cocktail sausage section, a ribs section, the list goes on.
For me, the most favourite part of these butcheries are the fact that they have massive crates of mince and whole pieces of different cuts at the counter and you can ask the butcher to cut you a piece or weigh out an exact amount. You can even buy whole, half or quarters of carcasses and get the meat processed exactly how you want it.
Vegetables in South Africa are just insane. It is not strange to see a guy with a bakkieload (pick up truck) of tomatoes selling it by the crate-full. The same goes for anything that is in season: oranges, naartjies, avocados. And don’t think you just buy one or two pieces of fruit; they come by the case!
Oh, and they’re huge too! In fact, farmers struggle to sell things like cabbages since they are so big that people don’t buy them…
In South Africa, if you live in a relatively small town you seem to know everybody. The same goes for the local corner shop. They do everything! Apart from the usual sweets/bread/milk, they take it one step further by baking their own bread! They make fish and chip take aways, they sell emergency supplies like firewood, gas and ice and last, but not least they bake fresh pancakes, vetkoek and make boerewors rolls.
In the UK drinking coffee is part of your morning ritual. Stop at Starbucks/Costa/Nero and pick up your cup of Joe.
(Read: The Perfect Cuppa)
In South Africa you will find that independent coffee shops is part of the culture. Starbucks only recently opened a branch in Sandton in Johannesburg, but thus far it has not spilled down to the rest of the country as people love their independent coffee shops full of character! Each little shop has its own little USP, the thing that makes them different from all the other coffee shops in town.
Each coffee shop is a true experience!
The one thing I can say about South Africans is that most are not lazy to work, but jobs are very hard to come by as unemployment is really high. Their ingenuity to create a job for a breadwinner to bring the bacon to the table is truly remarkable.
I’ve seen people creating ornaments out of beads and wire, carving animals out of wood and selling them next to the road. People even sell fresh fruit and vegetables next to the road. I’ve seen people whose sole job is to wave a flag to indicate the start of road works. There are even petrol attendants that not only fill up your vehicle, but wash your windows, check your water and oil levels and pump your tires whilst you wait!
One of the very best ideas is a Tuisnywerheid; a rented shop where home bakers and crafters can sell their products to the local community. They will bake cakes, biscuits, milk tarts, koeksisters and other yummy goodies and the shop owner will sell this on their behalf. Depending on the rules of the shop you can also sell your homemade handbags, tea cosies, pot warmers etc.
Do you have unique everyday things where you live that foreigners might find out of their ordinary? Let me know in the comments below!
When you have allergies some foods sometimes seems like it is beyond reach. This is especially true when it comes to Asian Cuisine that uses a variety of great ingredients, but some of which will actually kill me. It is for this reason that I’ve adapted the recipe for a Green Thai Chicken Curry.Read More
Every time I watch Despicable Me I have to chuckle when Dave yells: ‘B-A-N-A-N-A!’ It is at that point that I realise that the bananas I’ve bought at the start of the week are about to grow another life if I don’t rescue them from the fruit bowl before the week is out.
To me there is only one solution to the problem… Let’s bake!Read More
The hubby and I have spent the Summer holidays visiting family in South Africa.
I love the fact that there are very few coffee chains in South Africa. People make a living by trying to be more unique that the next person down the road. The result? Gems!
There are a few staples that you will always find at a South African braai: pap, sous, greek salad, garlic bread and potato salad. This is my ultimate potato salad recipe. Even my German friend loves this and we all know that Germans know a thing or two about a great potato salad!
I used to waste. A lot. Whenever an expiry or best before date was approaching, it went straight to the bin. The biggest reason for this waste was simply because we bought too much! Since we’ve got that habit under control (read how I managed to do that in the article In for a penny, in for a pound) I realised how much I hated wasting good food. I thought I’d share with you my top ten ways to minimise food waste every week.
The best way to minimise waste is to plan your weekly meals. Plan for dishes that complement each other by using some of the same ingredients in different ways. For example I might make a delicious salad one evening with (amongst others) celery, carrots and onion, a classic chilli con carne the next evening that uses all three ingredients in the sofrito and a risotto the night after that using up the celery and onion as a sofrito again.
**Sofrito is a mix of lightly fried vegetables that is used as a base for different dishes.**
I love Costco’s succulent chicken breasts and great lamb cutlets. They are great for pretty much all of their meat cuts, however, there is no way we can consume 2kg of chicken breasts before they start to go off. Therefore, I buy (also from Costco) freezing bags that will allow me to portion out the meat and put it in the freezer for future use. Just make sure you put the contents and date of purchase on the front so you can use up the oldest first.
As a full time teacher I’m lucky enough to have 13 weeks’ holiday a year. (I do work during those weeks, but that is a story for a different day!) This means that during this time I cook a few freezer-friendly dishes that can be reheated from frozen on those days that I have a heavy week or late nights. Lasagnas, cottage pies and shepherds pies are great no-fuss, midweek one-pot dishes.
Have you ever had half a loaf of bread left over or that last quarter of cheese or half a watermelon and you know hand on heart that you won’t be able to use it before it’s starting to harbour new life. Freeze it! Slices of bread can be frozen to pop into the toaster at a later stage. Cheese can be grated and frozen for some divine cheese toasties or glorious mac and cheese later on. Watermelon and other fruit can be frozen to be blitzed into sorbet’s and smoothies later on.
Bananas are at its very best for making banana bread when they are black and soft. I often buy some extra fruit to make some baked treats like breads, cupcakes and muffins. All can be successfully frozen and enjoyed at a later stage. Frozen muffins are especially great if you pop them in the oven to reheat and enjoyed with a cup of coffee for breakfast.
Lots of recipes call for stock and although it is very easy to use a stock cube it is rarely as nice as using a homemade stock from scratch. It is so easy to make as well. When you roast a chicken use the bones to make a lovely chicken stock or collect the peelings from your veggies during the week, freeze and when you have enough make a great veggie stock to use in soups, stews and risotto. Stock can be frozen in ice cubes for easy use in dishes like Chilli Con Carne or in greater quantities if you want to use it for soup.
Talking about soup: My soup gets a new twist every time I make it. This is because I use up the veggies that is about to past their best before. Make it different every time by adding barley, split peas or pasta to create a very filling lunch or dinner.
I love leftovers! It can be so versatile. You can make sandwiches, salads, soups or croquettes the next day or it can be frozen to make a meal on a busy night.
There are few things more delicious than sweet, sticky marmalade on thickly sliced, fresh, crusty white bread. The thing that will make it even more delicious? Homemade marmalade! Use up your fruit and veg by taking the time to preserve it. Not only does it help to reduce waste, it also makes great personal gifts.
I adore cooking great food from scratch, but this also means that I like to use fresh herbs in my cooking. Not only can you save a fortune by growing your own herbs and vegetables, you can reduce a huge amount of waste as you only use what you need. Plus, once the season is nearing the end you can freeze the herbs by placing them in ice cubes with some olive oil ready to put some flavour into your future dishes.
I recently came across a lovely blog by The Snail of Happiness about how she grows an abundance of homegrown fruits and veggies in a small space. I, myself, grow quite a bit and I can assure you, you don’t need a large plot of land to grow your own successfully.
You can always make some awesome homemade mojitos with your overgrown mint bush!
I hope that this list helps you as much as it helps me on a weekly basis. Let me know some of your waste-reducing tips as I would like to try them!
If you liked this list, why not check out some of my other lists: