This is a tale of an exciting tip-off. Mr B’s mother told me that in Eley Road, Blackburn South, there existed some sort of magical nut emporium where one could buy nuts at vastly cheaper prices than the supermarket. I filed this away as a “huh, that’s interesting, I didn’t think any of those shops in Eley Road were even open any more” and it was not until Mr Behemoth requested a kilo of cashews, or almonds (nibbling nuts is thought of quite well at the Crossfit box apparently) that I decided to pay it a visit.
Well! What an exciting discovery! Nix’s World of Nuts and Sweets (167 Eley Road, Blackburn South) not only offers huge turnover in nuts at good prices, but also an entire Continental grocery, including amazing cheeses, pasta and Greek ladies (or were they Italian? Nonnas, anyway) asking for and receiving service in their native tongues. Surely a mark of a good delicatessen. I got very excited and spent $40 (cash only at the registers thanks), on the nuts, a tube of harissa, some juicy sultanas, fancy and cheap Italian pasta including some spinach orecchiette, tinned Italian tomatoes (59c a tin!) and other canned pulses. It’s open 8-3 on Saturdays and I’ve already been back twice.
The spinach orecchiette attracted me because on the packet, it had a recipe for zucchini and mascarpone orecchiette. This preyed on my mind and eventually I bought a tub of mascarpone and some zucchini and gave it a try. I’ve thrown out the packet – good one Catty – so what follows is my attempt to recreate it the next time around. A nice little vegetarian pasta dish to have up one’s sleeve when you’re tired of tomato-based pasta.
- If you don’t have mascarpone on hand (and who does, really, unless you’re Nigella!), I’ve subbed in feta for salty but delicious results.
- You can swap over zucchini for broccoli
- Adding a couple of anchovies at the start with the lemon zest/garlic/chilli could be a fantastic addition
- If you can’t not have meat in a pasta dish, I’d recommend diced bacon or pancetta cooked with the onion stage
Zucchini and mascarpone orecchiette – serves 2
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- An onion (Diced; I used a large red one as that’s all I had)
- Two medium zucchini (diced)
- clove of garlic
- lemon zest (about half a tsp)
- chilli flakes (to taste)
- 100g marscapone
- a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese (grated)
- 200g of orecchiette (or your favourite pasta shape)
While boiling some salty water for your pasta, heat the oil in a fairly large frying pan and frying pan and saute the onion until nicely golden – this will take about 3 or 4 minutes for me. While you’re doing that, chop the zucchini!
Add the lemon zest, chilli flakes (if using) and garlic and cook a further 1 minute. This is a good point to tip the orecchiette into your by now vigorously boiling pasta water.
Tip the zucchini in and stir all around so it gets coated in the deliciousness, then cook it on a low heat for around 6 minutes, until the zucchini is softened.
When the pasta is pretty much cooked (and the little ears of orecchiette are thick and seem to take longer than other pasta varieties) tip in the mascarpone and parmesan to the zucchini mixture, and loosen with about quarter of a cup of the water that the pasta is cooking in.
Drain the pasta, not very well, and combine with the sauce you’ve made.