‘Tis the season to be jolly! And busy….and stressed…..and tired…….and completely overwhelmed! Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! I think that in the days leading up to Christmas most mothers are teetering on the edge of becoming bed-riddenly ill or utterly insane. There are the presents to buy, the meals to plan, the recitals to attend, the in-laws to arrive, the shopping to do and, of course, the children. So excited they are like overstuffed water balloons ready to pop! They suck us dry of every last bit of attention we may have had hiding deep within. But we love them.
It is during times like these that we need to take care of ourselves the most and – of course – that is the least of our priorities. This is when we feel completely justified in ripping open a frozen pizza and calling it dinner or sending our kids off to school with a pop tart in hand because Mum is busy and needs a bit of slack. But the kids, like us, need a bit of nutrition during these busy times to keep them going because the last thing mum needs to add to her list of things to do is: take care of sick child.
The pasta dish I made for my family the other night may not win any superfoods awards. There are no gogi berries, quinoa, chia seeds or kale hiding in its ingredients list but it is Simple Good Food. Real food – not processed – yummy and easy. My children do not adore cauliflower but in this dish it just blended in with the pasta and all was gobbled up without a complaint uttered. Little did they know they were eating something very rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer phyto-chemicals. Score one for mum.
A frozen pizza may be a faster solution but this meal is only going to set you back 20-30 minutes. Tops. So take a deep breath and forget about Christmas for half an hour. Tomorrow is another day.
And with any luck you’ll have leftovers……
- 1 lb (450g) penne or other tubular pasta
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 2 cups (475 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 cups (about 225g) frozen sweet peas
- 5 spring onions/scallions cut on the diagonal
- pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup (60ml) cream
- ½ cup (50g) grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon (14g) Butter
- ¼ cup (small handful) basil or mint leaves, shredded
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, usually one minute less than the advised cooking time. Drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, while the pasta water is heating, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the cauliflower and garlic and sauté until golden, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the stock and simmer until reduced by half and the cauliflower is tender.
- Add the frozen peas, spring onions, optional chile flakes and salt and pepper and cook until the peas are defrosted and warm through and the onions are softening - about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the cream and bring back to simmer. Add the pasta and toss constantly until the noodles are well coated in the sauce and the sauce seems a bit thicker.
- Add the butter, cheese and fresh herbs and toss well before serving.