Zucchini carrot ricotta-pesto rose tart, #3, and clothes shopping

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Fall! Crisp underfoot, leaves, pumpkin, bonfires…… Here in Accra there is no sense of fall, just temperatures creeping up after the rainy season and unseasonably early Christmas decorations in the supermarkets. Trees are flowering and I am so glad I stocked up on allergy medications while recently in Europe. As usual I brought some ricotta, which ended up in this rose tart. I first made this in 2013, which seems like ages ago. A little fiddly to make, but very satisfying.

Zucchini carrot ricotta-pesto rose tart, #3

One package ready-made puff pastry
3 zucchini
3 carrots
120 gr fresh pesto
250 gr ricotta
Salt, pepper

Roll out your dough into a pie dish. (Here it came with carta al forno, baking paper.)  Slice the zucchini and carrots lengthwise into long thin strips, with a potato peeler or a mandolin. Here I used a cheese slicer, which made the slices a little too thick. I doubled the ricotta and pesto and soldiered on.

Mix pesto and ricotta, half of each, with a little salt and pepper. Spread some ricotta-pesto mix on the strips of carrot and zucchini. I did this directly on the pastry. Roll the strips somewhat tightly together, so they looks like a rosebud. (Yes, albeit a pesto-smeared, green one.) This time I smeared some ricotta mix on the pastry base, which made it easier to assemble the rose roll when cooking alone.

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This is finicky, but the rolls held together well. Alternate carrot and zucchini, rolling until you have a good sized roll. Add last strips to fill the dish. Tuck the pastry edges over.
Bake at 180C until it looks done. Twenty minutes or so? Slice into wedges and enjoy. We did!

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For some colour: shirts at the small craft market at the WEB Dubois center. My wardrobe contents are gradually getting replaced by locally made clothes, generally tailored, but the craft markets are fun. After almost three years in Accra, sweating through clothes at least once a day, my old work tops are fraying and fading. However, my dress sense and current outfits are definitely getting brighter after three years in Accra. This time I bought a dark blue batik jacket with bell sleeves, relatively sober: definitely too hot for Accra, but this will be good for work trips where the airconditioning can be fierce (or absent), and layering can be key. This cost 120 Ghana cedis, which is about … 24.5 USD, with a bit of a discount. I find it hard to bargain as a privileged foreigner here, but love these textiles.

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Soon to be seen at a workshop somewhere!

Pasta alla Genovese two times

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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.

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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.

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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!

Zucchini Carrot Ricotta-Pesto Tart #2

Zucchini carrot ricotta pesto tartHappy First Fiesta Friday anniversary! We had neighbours over last night, and thought this might be a good choice to start a light vegetarian dinner. Having Italians over can be daunting, especially when they are excellent cooks and can argue at length about spaghetti widths, aubergine varieties and other such critical culinary points. Making this tart again might work, we thought, and it is also my contribution to the First Fiesta Friday anniversary. Fiesta Friday is like a really interesting weekly neighbourhood dinner, with some familar faces and some new. Each week I am inspired, impressed and grateful for all the wonderful ideas, recipes and writing, so thanks so much! Special thanks to our lovely FF52 co-hosts: Angie@The Novice Gardener, Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board.

Zucchini Carrot Ricotta-Pesto Rose Tart
(Initially inspired by Conversation Pieces: Zucchini Carrot Rose Tart)

One package ready-made puff pastry
3 zucchini
3 carrots
130 grammes fresh pesto, about 4 tbs
250 grammes ricotta, about 4 tbs
Salt, pepper

Roll out your dough into a pie dish. (Here it came with carta al forno, baking paper.) Slice the zucchini and carrots lengthwise into long thin strips, with a potato peeler or a mandolin. (This task is much easier when you have a patient husband who is handy in the kitchen..)
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Mix pesto and ricotta, half of each, with a little salt and pepper. Spread some ricotta-pesto mix on the strips of carrot and zucchini. Roll the strips somewhat tightly together, so they looks like a rosebud. (Yes, albeit a pesto-smeared, green one.) This is finicky, but the rolls held together well. Alternate carrot and zucchini, rolling until you have a good sized roll. Lift it carefully over onto pastry, and add last strips to fill the dish. Tuck the pastry edges over. If you have extra pesto-ricotta, feel free to spoon it into the crevices.
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Bake at 200C until it looks done. Time and temperature depends on your pastry and oven, last time 20 min at 180 was enough but this time it took 35-40 min and I increased he temperature. Slice into wedges and enjoy. Enjoy! We did! And our dinner with the neighbours went well, I think. They are really nice, forgiving of our gaps on speaking Italian, and we laughed a lot.