Pasta and noodles are great comfort foods plus they are key ingredients in a huge range of delicious vegetable, meat and seafood combos.
The origin of the noodle is disputed. The Chinese claim they first appeared about 4000 years ago in north-western China. However, the Italians also claim they created noodles. Whatever their origin. I love both, Chinese and Italian noodles.
Chinese noodles are usually prepared from rice flour, bean paste and/or tapioca flour while Italian pasta noodles are prepared from hard durum wheat flour. The exception to the rule is Chinese egg noodles which are prepared from wheat flour and powdered beans or rice. Sometimes egg is added.
The variety of Italian pasta shapes certainly adds interest to meal-making. My fave at present is the wide noodle pappardelle. Fettuccine can be a substitute and I particularly enjoy the variety that has a slight rough texture so the sauces cling to it more readily.
Gnocchi are grouped with pasta — they are similar to little dumplings and prepared from semolina, plain flour or potato. Check out the new varieties in your supermarket or deli chiller. They just need reheating in a sauce.
TERIYAKI CHICKEN ON NOODLES
1 cup warm water
2 packed tablespoons soft brown sugar
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
3-4cm knob root ginger, finely grated
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
6 skinned and boned chicken thighs
200g (about 3 cakes) fine dried egg noodles
Garnish: coriander leaves
2 spring onions, chopped
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)
Combine the warm water and sugar in a medium roasting dish. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Add the soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chilli flakes. Mix well. Cool.
Place the chicken in the marinade and leave for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours covered in the fridge.
Meanwhile, place the egg noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for at least 5 minutes to soften.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Oven cook the chicken in the marinade for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Drain the soaked noodles and add to the marinade. Place the chicken back on the noodles and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes. The noodles will soak up the cooking liquid.
Serve the chicken on the noodles then garnish. Serves 4.
FETTUCCINE WITH LAMB
Other veggies could be added to this easy dish.
100g dried fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g lean lamb leg steaks, cut into thin strips
1 each: celery stalk, small carrot, diced
345g jar good tomato based pasta sauce
1/4 cup vegetable stock
Cook the fettuccine according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the lamb and cook for 4-5 minutes or until browned. Add the celery and carrot. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the drained pasta to the sauce. Toss to combine and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serves 2.
MARIO’S POTATO GNOCCHI
used the virtually cook-free gnocchi from my local supermarket chiller. Prepare other gnocchi according to the packet instructions.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 rashers rindless bacon, chopped
2 cups good Mexican-style salsa
2 tablespoons each: sliced pitted black olives, chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
500g fresh potato gnocchi
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté the bacon until crisp. Add the salsa and bring to the boil. Gently stir in the olives, parsley and garlic. Season. Mix well.
Add the gnocchi and heat through for 2-3 minutes. Serves 4.