I have a confession (of sorts). I am a weekly menu planner, I plan out my menu, I write my shopping list, I buy the food and I cook planned meals. As a system I love it, it means I can spend time on a Sunday evening working out what to cook, I can make sure that there is a variety of proteins and carbohydrates and midweek, come the witching hour when the boys both want attention and the dinner needs cooking, I know I am organised and will have everything I need to get dinner on the table easily.
So I would say it works quite well. Most of the time! Because despite my greatest intentions I don't always stick to the plan. Sometimes life just happens! Something changes and throws the week out. Stew is late home, we snack whilst we have a glass of wine and then don't feel like dinner, the stroganoff is so bad that we end up with cheese and crackers or everyone just fancies something different. Whatever it is, it means everything has to be bumped and moved about so that I can accommodate the fresh veg/meat in the fridge.
Sometimes the issue is my own forgetfulness. Have I mentioned my forgetfulness? I have a great memory for food, meals and restaurants, but when it comes to little things I am terrible. You know the saying "I would forget my head if it wasn't screwed on" seriously that was made for me.
Some days I just forget to remove the meat from the freezer, then at 6pm I realise that we really aren't going to have lamb chops for dinner as they are still a solid mass in the freezer. Those are the days that I open the fridge, close it again, open the pantry, pull out a few tins, realise that isn't going to cut it, so I put them back and head back to the fridge, where I discover what I knew all along..... we have nothing for dinner. The issue with being a meal planner is there is no emergency food, I don't just have some mince sitting in the fridge, or a dish of cooked chicken. I plan the meals so that left overs are used up or frozen for another day. This is a positive unless you have forgotten to remove the lamb from the freezer and have to make dinner pronto.
Enter the pantry and a dinner made from dried goods. Now currently my pantry is getting re stocked but as a rule it is full of food. You know how some people can't help but buy shoes, I can't help it, I buy food. Food shopping is something I love doing, unless it is 5:30 on a Thursday evening, the kids are tired and cranky, I am tired and cranky and it quickly escalates into a supermarket nightmare. I avoid shopping on a Thursday evening. Seriously Thursday is the hardest day of the week in my house.
So I love pantry meals and when you need something quick and tasty, pasta is the perfect dinner. If you are really in a food hole, pasta with chilli and garlic oil is simple, easy and delicious. As is pasta puttanesca. They are without fail my two fall back pasta dishes and I think both are good enough to serve guests if you are in a bind and need to get something delicious served up. But the dish I am about to share is something a little bit different, in fact it is nothing short of amazing. I found it when I was searching for some new and more unusual pasta recipes. I came across this recipe, in the New York Times, for Scallops With Pomegranate Syrup and Foriana Sauce. That's right the New York Times. 😉 Now I love scallops, but I really wasn't convinced by the dish. It seemed like a lot of flavours and I wasn't prepared to waste scallops trying it out. But the Foriana sauce, now that was another matter. It is a nut version of a pesto and it is quite delicious. Don't leave out the sultanas, they really do complete the dish.
I have found this works best with a long pasta, linguine, spaghetti, or the thicker pappardelle. I have never been a fan of fettuccine, but if you love it then this sauce will work well with it too. That is not to say you couldn't use a short shape, but I tried it with penne and found the nut sauce filled the tubes and made it very strong and not pleasant to eat. I think it needs a flat shape, perhaps farfalle? But them I don't like that as a pasta shape because the middle is always hard when the outside edges are over cooked. Fussy? Me? Noooooooo. I'm just particular when it comes to pasta. 😳
This is a great pasta dish to serve to vegetarians and if you miss out the cheese and use non egg pasta you could serve it up as a vegan main course. Now that is a pasta dish worth having in your recipe collection, come on everyone needs more than one vegetarian pasta recipe!
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- 45 g walnuts
- 45 g pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 50 g sultanas
- 350 g pappardelle or other long pasta
- 50 g grated parmesan cheese
- Place the walnuts into the small bowl of a food processor and pulse quickly to break them down slightly.
- Add the pine nuts, garlic and oregano then whizz until you have a course crumble.
- Add the olive oil and pulse to combine. (Don't over whizz it or you will end up with something that resembles sandy peanut butter!)
- Tip the nut mixture into a frying pan and add the sultanas.
- Cook the nut mixture over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta as per the instructions.
- Once the pasta is cooked, use a jug or cup to remove about 250ml (1 cup) of cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Mix in the cooked nut sauce and stir to combine.
- Loosen the pasta and sauce down with cooking water. I usually have to add about 100ml of the water, but add it slowly until you have a creamy coating consistency.
- Serve sprinkled with the parmesan and perhaps a sprinkle of chopped parsley.