Tag Archives: pasta

Sunday linguine with shrimp

An Italian friend was visiting Accra, and offered to come over and cook Sunday lunch. It was delicious! He had bought the shrimp that morning at the fish market in Jamestown. I am counting down to Italian summer holidays by the sea, so this was perfect. I do moan about the lack of fresh seafood in Accra, being on the coast and in Gulf of Guinea as we are, but it does exist: getting fresh shrimp just takes a bit of detective work and effort.

Sunday linguine with shrimp

50 ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch of chili flakes
1 kg fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
7 or 8 medium plum tomatoes, diced

Pinch of salt
500 grammes dry linguine

To serve: Small handful chopped fresh parsley

Put the pasta water on and start the pasta. Heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped garlic. Tip in the diced tomatoes. Finally, let the shrimp cook gently in the tomato sauce for just a few minutes. Toss sauce and linguine, and serve at once, with a bit of fresh parsley and cold white wine.

Note: the tomatoes seem to have vanished into the pasta, but it was delicious!




Pasta alla Genovese two times


My flatmate is having a birthday dinner tonight, and the flat is festooned with banners, balloons: it looks to be a lovely evening. A friend is back from Tanzania and asked to come over to do laundry (he is in a hotel) last night, so while the laundry was being done he helped with the decor, and made dinner. Very much appreciated. He had planned to make pasta alla Genovese (pasta with potatoes, pesto and green beans) but had had not had time to shop. But we had all the ingredients! Only Ghanaian sweet potatoes, but that worked out just fine too.

I had made this a couple months ago, and was curious to see if our friend cooked it all in one pot. It’s all about the timing and how finely the vegetables are cut. Ideally the order is diced potato, then pasta, then green beans, but I rarely get the timing quite right. Here is a Nigella recipe explaining it well, she even makes the pesto. Here’s the BBC Good Food version. This is a very forgiving dish, and very satisfying.

Pasta alla Genovese

500 grams potatoes (peeled and diced in finger-thick pieces)
500 grams pasta of your choice
200 grams fine green beans (trimmed and cut in half)
160-200 grammes pesto
a little starchy cooking water
grated cheese to serve (parmesan or grana padano)

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add salt (more than a pinch, less than a handful: q.b. as Italians say, quanto bisogno or as much as you need.) You want the pasta, beans and potatoes all to be done at the same time, which is why I sometimes do this in two pots (even three, which is terrible).  Look at the pasta cooking time and estimate as well as you can. If you feel brave, the all in one pot: diced potatoes first, then pasta, then green beans 4-5 minutes before the end. Drain, stir pesto through, and with a cooking water if it looks dry at all, and serve. With a little grated cheese if you like, and a little more salt pepper for me.


Notes: Top one is the one I cooked, this one is cooked by my friend. Both very nice! It should be linguine or spaghetti, or trofie, but I have had several versions and this is the pasta that was on hand. The first time I had this, an Italian friend made it with penne, with beans cut same length as the pasta. I use a little extra pesto as I usually make extra for my packed lunch the next day.

It is rainy season in Ghana and not too hot, but humid: I find mildew on cupboard doors, lunch bags, oven mitts, suitcases….. I wipe it off with vinegar and hope for the best.


Not all roadside gutters are cleared out well, which increases risk of flooding. We live in a higher area, with no flooding danger. I am enjoying the cooler weather though, and the occasional walk home. I am also counting down to holidays in Italy, which will be nice (despite heatwave there at present). The Roman papers are moaning about the  caldo africano”  but we are used to worse in West Africa, and I am really looking forward to some days of Italian summer.  And Italian summer food!

Roast pumpkin lasagna with yellow peas

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.


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.


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.