Fusilli with zucchini and goat ricotta

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What to cook? On a hot Roman summer day, it can be a challenge. This day it was easy: we had some fresh goat ricotta that needed to be used, the fridge was full of vegetables, and for once I made lunch. Generally with me working from home, it’s been really busy, even five months in. Teleworking is not the relaxed days of bread baking and coffee drinking I might have imagined, though I really should be better at taking breaks. My patient  husband has thus been the star chef, sorting lunch and dinner most days, but occasionally I step in.

Fusilli with zucchini and goat ricotta

300-400 g of fusilli or other pasta
2 tbs olive oil
6 small Roman zucchini, sliced into small coins
1 clove garlic, chopped
a few fresh basil leaves if you have them
300 g nice ricotta
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta. Gently fry the zucchini and garlic. Here we used Roman zucchini (they are pale green, grooved), but use what you have. When pasta is done, drain the pasta and put it back in the pot with the vegetables. Then spoon in the ricotta and stir briefly to mix. Eat while listening to someone shouting below in the piazza (it was double parking.)

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Double parking is generally not an issue right now. It’s almost Ferragosto (15 August, peak holiday time), so many people have left for holidays and it is getting very quiet in our neighborhood. A lot of shops have closed until early September. It’s still cooling down at night, so no complaints after my sweaty years in Accra. Have a nice weekend!

Note: any leftovers of this pasta is nice cold the next day too, much to the horror of an Italian friend who cannot abide “cold food that should be warm”. He is not a fan of leftovers in general.

A walk! And spaghetti with zucchini and basil

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Already late June! We are out of lockdown in Rome, there are green figs and huge watermelons and lots of cherries in the fruit and veg shops. I can see the hipster bar across the piazza is busy (it has outdoor seating) and it is so nice to hear voices in the streets again. I am still wary so we are not out much, and only with masks, but getting a takeaway pizza after three months was amazing.  It is really great to start seeing a few friends now and then, while maintaining distance. We are all still working from home, going better than expected. Our cloth mask collection is growing.

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Today we actually left our neighbourhood Garbatella for the first time since March, and walked across the river to Marconi to pick up something at a shop. Lots of people out, almost all with masks, but it feels like life is a little more normal. People out on bicycles with their kids, others were chatting on the sidewalks, with patient dogs waiting on leashes, enjoying the lovely sunny weather. So many shops had SALDI signs (sales). It’s a tough time for businesses.

Home again: What to have for lunch? We had lots of leftovers in the fridge, including the fabulous Ottolenghi mushroom lentil ragu,  which we had the other night on spaghetti, but that ragu will feature in a vegetarian moussaka tonight. Yes, a friend is coming for dinner! It is SO NICE to talk to someone in person and not via a computer. We will have drinks on the condominium rooftop terrace, then dinner, all maintaining fresh air and distance.

Anyway, we needed lunch, soon. UK football has started again this weekend, they are playing with empty stadiums but showing games online (with crowd noise dubbed in, it is really odd). This is a big deal for my husband (UK club season ticket holder), who has been doing most of the cooking this spring. So I promised to assemble something. The lone zucchini in the veg drawer, one box of leftover cold spaghetti, hey presto!

Spaghetti with zucchini and basil
2 tbs olive oil
1 zucchini  (if you have 2, even better)
1 clove garlic
leftover spaghetti, about two portions (or cook 180gr dry pasta)
salt, pepper
5-6 basil leaves, torn
parmesan to serve

Wash the zucchini, slice in two lengthwise then slice it into thin half moons. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan, toss in the zucchini and fry at medium to high heat, not so hot that anything burns but so the zucchini cooks and some get a little golden. Add chopped garlic, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. If you have basil, a few leaves town and added in is great. Once the zucchini has a little colour, add the leftover cold spaghetti  (or pasta of your choice) and keep heating this in the frying pan until it is all hot. Move the pasta and zucchini around so it all gets warm without any zucchini bits burning. Grate some parmesan and voila, lunch in six minutes, just in time for the football game.

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Hope you are all still doing well!

Filo tart with zucchini and smoked cheese

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Our for a walk in North Ridge, we met some of our old neighbourhood goats. It’s still pleasantly cool, lovely to be able to walk without immediately dripping with sweat. Weekend mornings the streets are relatively quiet, many of the small shops are closed, and we can walk quietly, with an occasional honk from passing taxis. The goats were observed near +233 jazz club, where there is also a flat area used as a football training pitch.

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Here they sell lottery tickets or phone scratch cards? Not sure. Anyway, I am back in Accra for three weeks between trips. Traveling so much does disrupt cooking routines, like making sure there are fresh vegetables you feel like cooking with, but not accumulating food that will not keep until you are back. Here, I realized I had three packets of filo pastry, some precious zucchini and some scamorza (smoked cheese), so this was thrown together for a quick dinner.

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Filo tart with zucchini and smoked cheese

Filo pastry: I  used three oven-tray sized sheets, and froze the rest
3 tbs melted butter
3 zucchini, sliced in thin half moons
1 yellow onion
salt, pepper
250 grammes scamorza (smoked cheese), or another meltable cheese of your choice

Line oven tray with baking parchment or a silicon mat. Heat oven to 220C. Unfold two sheets of filo pastry on baking sheet, and brush top one with melted butter. Lay third filo pastry sheet on top, and brush with last melted butter. Chop the zucchini once lengthwise, then slice into half moons. Scatter the zucchini evenly across pastry. Chop the peeled onion, and scatter this across tray as well. Add some generous pinches of black pepper and salt. Chop or grate the cheese, spread it on top of zucchinis and onions, then bake at 220C until cheese is melted and golden. Use scissors to cut.

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Tro-tro (minibus taxi) of the week: Doctor Jesus.

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