Thursday, 9 May 2013

History Repeating

Gemelli con Rasl el Hanout, Coriandolo, Comino, Menta, Uvetta & Pinoli
Gemelli with Ras el Hanout, Coriander, Cumin, Mint, Raisins & Pine Nuts

Sicily, land of my forefathers... whoever they may have been way, way down the line of it's long and colorful history. Though my name and of course my family's "recent" history of the past few generations is Italian, the island was ruled by many cultures in the past- and the pasta dish I created this evening was based on some of the Arabic influences that are still present even till today... this time, interpreted by lil' ol' me!

As you may know, although I am Sicilian, I was born and raised in England and have now lived in Frankfurt, Germany for 25 years... which makes for a slightly distanced and eclectic take on food and traditions. I have learned Thai cooking from a lovely lady I worked with for a number of years, also Persian from another colleague, French from a close friend here... you name it! I love it all! And what comes out of my own kitchen is obviously a combination of all these things- combined with my own madness! But that has been a recipe for success for me in the kitchen so far... and it is the only recipe I ever cook from too!

To make this, I boiled and salted my water and then dropped in the pasta and started it cooking in the usual manner. Which gave me 8 minutes to get everything else done! Fortunately for me (and for you!), that was all the time it took! Keep things simple and you can make things work!

First of all I chopped a stalk of celery and started it frying in a little olive oil. I then added some finely chopped Spring onion and a little finely chopped garlic and ginger. Once the celery and onion had become transparent, I added a few slices of round zucchini- I had one half left over from last night and a little thinly sliced red and green bell pepper. I saute├ęd these with for 2-3 minutes and then added a half can of chick peas. Yes, I could have soaked some over night- but frankly... for one portion of pasta? Uh-uh! Plus, chick-peas out of the can are always more juicy and succulent. So open a can. Trust me... it's best!

Once all of these ingredients were together, I added a good pinch of cumin and a full tablespoon of Ras el Hanout Rouge. I am not quite sure what the difference between this mix and the regular is- it maybe has a little more rose-petal in the spice mix- but it is lovely and rich, fragrant and spicy yet mild... perfect! I drained off the pasta and started to get everything timed just right... so the pasta came off the heat and a handful of pine nuts went onto the heat to brawn for the last few minutes... multi-tasking is fun!

Keeping the heat high, I added a handful of raisins into the vegetable mix and then the pasta, which being still moist from boiling, also deglazed the pan of all of its cooked-in goodness. I added a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of chili flakes, finely chopped mint and cilantro, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of both cinnamon and nutmeg and stirred them in well... and served it up straight away as the aroma was such that I couldn't resist any longer!

I served it up with a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley and the roasted pine nuts... and felt very proud of myself indeed for having put the whole thing together ing just 15 minutes or so. And you will too if you decide to try it out! And I recommend that you do!

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