Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tallarines Verdes

Tuesday night was a bit of a sad one in our little house. Bailey and I are very fond of our fair city and, even though we hated hearing about the crime scene developing just a few miles down the road from us, we couldn't tear ourselves away from the TV.

I had made Arroz a la Cubana the day before and blogged about it which had made me feel very nostalgic about Peruvian foods. I had spent the day planning my next adventures into the world of Peruvian flavours, had planned to whip us up some Tallarines Verdes for dinner that night, had added Humitas to my 'To Cook' list and had even spent all of my Paypal money on a batch of mail-order Aji Amarillo chillis!

However when we heard the news of the riots in Manchester I was very glum and said to Bailey that I didn't know if I even felt like cooking that evening. However, I eventually decided that making us tea would be a much needed break from sitting looking at sad news reports.

As always, I soon lost myself in my cooking and we ended up really enjoying eating our Tallarines - it put smiles back our faces even though we did sit and watch the news while we ate. The power of good food!

Tallarines Verdes is probably my favourite Peruvian food and is Peru's take on pasta with pesto because in Peru pesto costs like a fiver from the supermarket. But it's loads nicer and healthier than pasta pesto anyway. Whenever we were having it at school you would know about it from pretty much first thing in the morning as the entire school would smell of basil and I would get super excited. It is sometimes served with Papa a la HuancaĆ­na which is ACE and I will blog about it when my aji amarillo chillis arrive!

Margarita, who was the lady who used to look after our house in Peru, was the one who taught me to make Tallarines Verdes. It is so easy to make and the good thing is the sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge then added directly to hot spaghetti and served immediately. In Peru you use queso fresco - a type of white cheese - to make the sauce but since my return to England I've used feta which works just fine.

Recipe (serves 4):
500g spaghetti
A bag of spinach, washed
3-4 good handfuls of fresh basil
160g feta cheese
100ml evaporated milk

Start by boiling some salted water for your spaghetti. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the spaghetti and cook to the packet instructions. Place the spinach in a large pan and cook over a low heat.

Add the basil and cook for just a few minutes.

When the spinach and basil are wilted, turn off the heat.

Grate or crumble the feta and add to the pan.

Transfer the spinach, basil and feta to a bowl or food processor. Add the evaporated milk and blend the whole thing up.

Blend until you have a rich, delicious-looking, fragrant, bright green sauce. If you can't smell amazing smells and if other people nearby aren't going "What is that awesome smell?", then something has gone wrong.

When you're ready to serve and your spaghetti is cooked, add the sauce to the spaghetti. Remember you can keep a stash of sauce in your fridge and just add to cooked pasta whenever.

Serve with a little sprinkling of feta and preferably no news of riots on the telly. Delightful!

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