Tag Archives: pasta

Roast pumpkin lasagna with yellow peas

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On my way to work: parts of Accra are very modern. And yes, the taxis and trotros (minibus taxis) here generally have religious text on the back window, like above. You might see BLESSED, JUDGMENT DAY, THE DEVIL IS A LIAR, or BE HUMBLE. Friday we had a massive rainstorm, plenty of time in traffic to read window slogans.

After three months of cooler weather (under 28C) here in Accra, the heat is coming back. Phew. After a grocery run to Marina Mall (for cheapest UHT milk) by Uber yesterday  morning, I was already feeling woozy from the heat. And it’s not even that hot yet…. Still, I am really happy I spent the last weekends sorting through cupboards and closets so most of that is done before we move. Risengrynsgrøt (Norwegian rice porridge) is now spluttering away in the slow cooker, and chickpeas are soaking for tomorrow. We are working our way through the food left: lots of pulses, seeds and mystery ice-crusted boxes in the freezer. So far it is still a fun challenge: buy fresh vegetables and fruit, soak and cook a batch of beans/lentils/cowpeas in the slowcooker, and see what we can cook. Last weekend it was a dried split yellow peas, which ended up in soup and this lasagna.


Roast pumpkin lasagna with split yellow peas

500g pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce:
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 vegetarian stock cube
1 cup of split yellow peas, soaked overnight and cooked
Roast pumpkin
Enough water to make sauce loose enough to spread: 1/2 litre or so

Make 1/2 litre of bechamel sauce:
50g plain flour
50g butter
500ml milk
salt, pepper
pinch of nutmeg

10-12 dry lasagna sheets
300g of grated cheese (I used defrosted scarmorza and cheddar)

Night before: soak the split yellow peas, if using. The ones I have take ages to cook even when soaked, despite the package saying soaking not needed. Lentils would be fine too. I try to eat meat-free most of the week, so we have a big stash of pulses. The first year of our mortgage we were so broke, and ate so much beans and lentils…. it is a real luxury to be eating this way by choice, not of necessity.

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Cut the pumpkin into 2 cm slices. Drizzle with oil, and roast in a foil-lined tin at 200C for 25 min or so, until soft. (Shoprite had local pumpkin already peeled,  a nice shortcut. I chopped and roasted the pumpkin the night before, when we were making pizza and the oven was on anyway. Stored in fridge overnight once cool.)

Cook split yellow peas: drain soaking water, covert with water and cook until soft. Then drain. (Mine stayed slightly crunchy, so I blitzed them with immersion blender to speed up cooking.)

Make pumpkin sauce: Sauté chopped onion and garlic, add cooked split yellow peas and roast pumpkin. Cook 20 min or so. Salt and pepper to taste. With immersion blender, blend until relatively smooth. You’ll need to add some water to make it loose enough to spread.

Make bechamel sauce: melt butter, stir in flour, then whisk in milk and bring to boil while stirring, until sauce thickens and is smooth. Stir in 2/3 of the grated cheese, stir until melted.

Assemble lasagna: Grease a roasting tin lightly. Spread a layer of pumpkin sauce on base, then a layer of dry lasagna sheets, then a layer of bechamel sauce, with a handful of grated cheese. Keep layering, finish with bechamel and cheese. Bake for 40 mins at 200C.

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Very un-photogenic, but tasty (all that cheese helped, use less if you prefer.) Also made this week:

Today: Norwegian Christmas dinner with ribbe, surkål, kålrabistappe, raspeballer, flatbrød, tyttebærsyltetøy, akevitt, riskrem. Perfect in the heat! Not really, but the freezer seems to take forever to empty,  so big steps needed. Eight weeks left until we move, but I am waiting to see the paperwork before I start giving away cutlery, plates, bookshelves, clothes and such. Not much clutter here, except in the Corner of Doom (things to use up in kitchen). Paella spices? We’ll soak some of that dried salted cod, and make fishcakes and a fishy saffron rice dish. Oodles of sesame seeds and tahini? Tahini cookies coming up. Maybe a chickpea pumpkin curry tomorrow, we shall see. A good Sunday to all.

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Dental fears, and Blue cheese pasta with almonds

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I would like to be as calm as this lizard, but am failing…. This weekend I had made popcorn, and thought at first a bit of broken kernel was stuck in my tooth. Then, after craning my neck to look in mirrors and making my long-suffering husband peer in, I had to face it: something has broken off one of my top molars. Chipped tooth? Cracked filling? I do not know, and am trying not to gingerly probe the jagged edge. Nobody likes going to the dentist (apologies to any dental readers out there). I do have a very nice dentist, but he is a continent away, and I will not be back there until July. So I will urgently need to find a good dentist in Accra: any suggestions?

Googling tooth injuries and dentists in Accra did not help. One quote: “Unfortunately Ghana, like most developing countries, is not blessed with a numerous supply of dentists. World Health Organisation data shows that in 2008 Ghana had only 148 dentists, which is equivalent to 0.06 dentists per 10,000 people.” What do people do? However, most of those dentists are in Accra, and some clinics look very modern, so I am lucky indeed to not be upcountry – and that I have health insurance, and the resources to get this fixed. Tomorrow I will ask colleagues for referrals and get this looked at in the next days. In the interim, soft food and frequent brushing of teeth!

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Blue cheese pasta with almonds  (actually, no almonds for me, so none in picture…..)

400 grammes dry pasta
100 grammes blue cheese with mascarpone
Handful of chopped almonds
A little grated pepper

Cook the pasta in salted water, duration as indicated on packet. Roughly chop the cheese. Drain pasta when done, keeping a little pasta water aside. Then strain, and crumble the cheese into the hot pasta, with a little hot pasta cooking water to loosen the cheese. Maybe 1/3 cup?  The cheese will melt in and coat the pasta. Sprinkle over the chopped almonds, and serve.

Notes: no, the blue cheese with mascarpone was not purchased locally. Blue cheese but mild, great in pasta.

Update 1: Thanks to colleagues and word of mouth (haha…), I found three recommended dentists, so I went to one today. Nice modern dental clinic, gentle staff. I have a brand new replacement filling, and a huge sense of relief! I can chew again! Really good to know of a good dentist, a long taxi ride away but not requiring a flight.

Update 2: What happens when there is such a shortage of qualified dentists, from local news:
3 Fake dentists arrested for practising for more than 15yrs. Rather frightening.

Yesterday it rained, for the first time in three months. It is apparently the end of the harmattan, the dusty dry winds from the Sahel, and there were sudden winds and a massive downpour. It was temporaily cool! It has been really dry, hopefully the rains are coming in time to help the farming sector.

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Pasta con le sarde (sardines and wild fennel)

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I confess, my week of being home alone and eating badly has continued. Ramen noodles, cheese and crackers, take-away pizza; yesterday dinner was fish-fingers and Häagen-Dazs while watching “Reality Bites”. Lots of guilty pleasures. Still, by now I am really looking forward to my husband getting back from London tomorrow and me cooking from scratch again. In honour of that, here is a dish from the archives: pasta con le sarde (sardines and wild fennel). I love wild fennel, and this is a great dish I make when I find wild fennel in the market (or bring it back from Palermo.)
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Pasta con le sarde (sardines and wild fennel)

300-400 grammes spaghetti
One white onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
300 grammes sardines, filleted
Five anchovy fillets
Spash of white wine, optional
A generous bunch of finoccio selvatico (fresh wild fennel)
50 grammes pine nuts
75 grammes sultanas or raisins
Salt and pepper
To serve: a handful of toasted breadcrumbs

Wash the wild fennel, removing any brown bits and cut off the lowest part and roots. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and gently fry the chopped onion. Add the sardines (yes, with tail – we get them in the frozen food shop filleted like this) and the anchovy fillets, with a little white wine if you have some. Cover and cook gently for 7-8 minutes. Add half the fennel to the pan with the onion and sardines. Meanwhile, boil water for the pasta. Add pasta and the rest of the fennel to the boiling water, and cook until pasta is al dente.

20130705-214022.jpgDrain off the water, then pour pasta (with fennel) into the sauce. Add pine nuts and sultanas, toss, and serve with a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs.
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I am not sure what I will be cooking the next few days, but pumpkin risotto for sure, maybe a potato-leek soup, or something with cauliflower. Maybe melanzane alla parmigiana? Salmon with miso and sesame? The gas company is coming tomorrow to change our very old gas counter, so I have taken the afternoon off to wait for for them. Hopefully there will be time to also go stock up on vegetables and get some real food in the fridge again (not just jam, wine, pickled herring and mystery chutneys). Also, my husband will get home! Yeah!