I’m really excited to announce a new weekly segment on stonesoup.
While I try and apply my minimalist home cooking principles to all the recipes I share with you. Some, shall we say, are more minimal than others. So to keep me honest, and to make sure things around here are as simple and as quick as possible, I’ve decided to feature a weekly recipe that has 5 or fewer ingredients and can be prepared in 10 minutes or less.
To make things a bit easier I’ve decided not to include salt and pepper in the ingredient count, which I’m sure you’d agree is reasonable. On the more controversial side, I’m thinking of discounting olive oil if it’s 2 tablespoons or less used to oil a pan. My sister thought this was a bit dodgy but she spends way more time skiing than going anywhere near a kitchen so I thought I’d open it up to you guys. Should oil be included in the ingredient count? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our maiden recipe in the 5 ingredients 10 minutes journey is zucchini ‘surprise’ pasta. You may be wondering where the ‘surprise’ comes from. Actually the name was inspired by the older sister of a uni mate of mine. Years ago when my friend’s sister was backpacking she got a job cooking in an English country pub. She wasn’t much of a cook but decided to give it a go. Apparently one of her least popular dishes was a special called ‘tuna surprise’. And the surprise? That there wasn’t any tuna.
But I digress, in this case – it’s that I’ve used fresh hokkien noodles instead of pasta. Surprise (!) – No pasta. If that seems too weird, by all means take the time to boil up some spaghetti or linguine but you’ll be well over the 10 minute mark by the time you’re done. Although I guess some fresh tagliatelle would meet the time constraints but it’s still more effort than my solution.
The beauty of fresh Asian noodles is that they just need heating up and they’re ready to eat. A soak in some boiling water from the kettle while you’re preparing the sauce is all that is required.
The other surprising thing is that with Italian sauces the noodles don’t taste Asian at all. The texture is slightly different to al dente pasta but still has that homely comforting feeling that we know and love in our pasta. I haven’t yet tried rice noodles Italian style but will put it on the menu next time I’m visiting my dear-old-gluten-intolerant-Dad and report back.
how to cook pasta in a flash
i. boil the kettle
ii. pour boiling water over fresh hokkien or similar noodles
iii. stand for 2 minutes or a bit longer
iv. drain & sauce like your favourite pasta
[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
zucchini (courgette) ‘surprise’ pasta
This is one of those recipes that can scale up really easily so I’ve given the quantity for one. If you’re cooking solo you can freeze the leftover noodles for another day. I’d recommend dividing them into single serving portions first.
If you’re not in the mood for pasta I highly recommend cooking the zucchini like this and tossing through some basil or fresh mint to serve as a side dish. I made some to serve with steak for my carnivore Dad and brother last week and they agreed that it was very yummy and even gave it the ‘best zucchini ever’ wrap.
100g (3oz) fresh hokkien or singapore noodles
2 zucchini finely sliced into coins
1 egg yolk
1 handful parmesan cheese, grated + extra to serve
2 sprigs basil, leaves picked & torn
Boil the kettle and get a large frying pan on a high heat. Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.
Heat 1-2T everyday olive oil in a large frying pan over a very high heat. Add zucchini and reduce heat to medium high. Cook stirring occasionally and leave the zucchini to the ‘tenderness fairy’, as Nigel Slater calls it.
[I know, I know. I'm obsessed. I promise - no more references to my new favourite food scribe]
When the zucchini is lovely and tender, drain the noodles and return to the heatproof bowl. Stir through egg yolk, cheese, zucchini and basil and season. Stir again until the cheese is melted and the sauce is glistening and silky.