Asparagus carbonara

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Lois’ ingenious idea: use the tough, woody ends of the asparagus to flavour the pasta cooking water to make this dish taste even more asparagus-y. You’ll also be making use of the whole asparagus spear and minimising food waste. Once again so on trend it’s ridiculous, Lois.

This will make enough for two.

Asparagus carbonara (Lois Daish, A Good Year, p.123)

1 free-range egg

1 free-range egg yolk

2 tablespoons cream

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

200g spaghetti

12 thin asparagus spears

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Snap the woody ends off the asparargus and place in a large pot of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes before scooping out the asparagus ends (discard these). Salt the water and add the spaghetti.

Chop the asparagus spears into thick slanted slices. Combine the egg, egg yolk, cream, salt, pepper and cheese together in a small bowl and set aside.

When the pasta is almost cooked, add the asparagus. When both are tender, drain into a sieve, using the cooking liquid to heat a large serving bowl. Tip out the liquid and add the spaghetti and asparagus to the bowl. Toss with the oil and pour on the egg and cream mixture. Toss together and eat immediately. As if you needed telling.

Spaghetti with cauliflower, almonds & currants

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This is one Lois recipe that I did end up changing quite a bit. The original recipe calls for pinenuts and raisins which I substituted for almonds and currants. I also added some anchovies and flat leaf parsley and cooked the cauliflower for a shorter period of time, so it retained a slight bit of bite. This recipe really was a combination of Lois and me. Makes enough for a delicious lunch for two or a light supper.

Spaghetti with cauliflower, almonds and currants (adapted slightly from Lois’ recipe published in the NZ Listener, August 9 2003).

Half a small cauliflower

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 medium onion or a couple of shallots, finely diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons currants (or raisins)

small handful of chopped almonds, toasted in a pan with some oil

2-3 anchovies, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

big handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

250g dried spaghetti

extra virgin olive oil

Cut the cauliflower into quarters and cook in a big pot of salted water (the same pot you’ll cook the pasta in). Cook the cauliflower until it is tender and can be pierced with a knife. Lift the cauliflower out of the water and chop into small florets. Scoop out 3/4 cup of the cauliflower cooking water, top up the pot with a bit of more water and bring back to the boil to cook the pasta.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan and saute the onion for about 5 minutes, then add a couple of tablespoons of the cauliflower cooking liquid and continue cooking until the onion is soft. Add the tomato paste and another half cup of the cooking liquid, plus the chopped cauliflower, currants, almonds, anchovies and parsley. Grind over lots of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and simmer gently while you cook the pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta, tip into the cauliflower mixture, drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and serve it up.