A Quirky Take on Aglio Olio

Aglio olio is the staple of most Italianas, and I am no different despite possessing only 25% Italian genes. Once you make the oil (which can last for days), all you need is spaghetti and perhaps some fresh parsley or basil and parmesan cheese for a superb, soul-nourishing comfort food, namely the classic spaghetti aglio olio.

Today, I made zucca aglio olio from the pumpkin I picked up on my drive in rural Phuket.  I decanted the oil into a jar and used some for spaghetti. I then used pumpkin slices to ‘wipe’ clean the saucepan, and baked those pumpkin slices (I sprinkled some freshly ground sea salt over them). The baked pumpkin aglio olio tasted heavenly!

Recipe for my aglio olio:

1/3 cup good olive oil

8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges-don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Turn off heat. Ensure that the red pepper flakes do not burn!!

Decant into a clean jar for later use.  Serve with piping hot spaghetti, topped with grated parmesan cheese, basil or parley and freshly ground salt and pepper.

And here’s the aglio olio served the traditional way, with spaghetti:

aglio olio

Note: my friend Azlan  Adnan suggested slicing the garlic thinly with a razor for that extra flavour.  Good advice!

 

GO ON, TRY IT!

One of my Facebook readers did, with an even better twist: she added the aglio olio pumpkin to the aglio olio spaghetti, and her adorable daughter loved it! Thanks, Mummy Loves Jayna!

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Harvest From The Roadside

Driving along the rural roads of Phuket, we chanced upon a tiny stall in front of a small house selling chopping boards made from tree trunks, pumpkins, limes and a handful of local greens.  I do not have the vocabulary to ask, “Is it organic?”. But within 10 yards from the stall, an elderly man was tending the smallholding.  I assumed it was as organic as we are going to get. The pumpkin cost us all of U$1.50. Pumpkins are incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins (especially vitamin A). I have a rapidly growing teenager, and she needs her vitamin A, which is instrumental for cell growth as well as immune system maintenance (and of course, good eyesight). Because pumpkins are root vegetables, they are fillers, but unlike other fillers (white rice, white bread), pumpkins fill you with goodness, too. I made pumpkin soup with the pumpkin I bought today. pumpkin soup Here’s my recipe: Olive oil 4 cloves garlic, chopped About as much pumpkin as you see in the photo, cubed 1/2 an avocado a handful of cashews salt and pepper Distilled water Method: Saute the chopped garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the pumpkin and 1/2 cup of distilled water. Simmer until soft. Pour into a powerful blender. Add avocado (for creaminess) and cashews (for the nutty taste). Blend until smooth. You may wish to add more water to the desired consistency. Season to taste. I served my pumpkin soup always with the following garnishing: Chilli jam Fresh lime Sunflower seeds And of course, good warm bread with lashings of butter. toppings   Footnote: I had a spare pumpkin at home (I am in the habit of collecting roadside pumpkins) which I will make into baked pumpkin crisps. I have also roasted some for a quiche and probably an antipasti. By the end of the weekend, G will be squealing, “Please, no more pumpkin!” But it’s all good. Either eat pumpkin or liver, dear girl. Your choice.   This was the roasted pumpkin platter. The only luxury was the landana cheese with white truffle.roasted veggies