I am sure I am not the only one who craves more warm starchy comfort foods when the weather starts cooling down a bit and the days are getting shorter and on grey rainy days.
This week I fell in love with pumpkin pasta.
In summer I love making zucchini pasta as a quick easy meal but for colder days it is just not what I crave. So I swapped the zucchini for butternut pumpkin that I cooked quickly in a pan instead. And voila! Absolutely delicious. Done in literally 10 minutes and hitting the spot on all levels.
The combination I love the most right now is pumpkin pasta with oyster mushrooms, smoked garlic, majoran and red spinach.
Apart form being tasty this dish has so much nutritional goodness to offer for the approaching cold and flu season:
Carotenoids or beta-carotene are precursor to Vitamin A and can be found in all foods that are mainly yellow,orange or red in colour such as carrots for example. Carotenoids are anti-oxidants that are converted to Vitamin A by our incredible bodies. As we know anti-oxidants are really important but what do carotenoids or Vitamin A do for us? They have been shown to play a specific role in growth and development during pregnancy as they also influence and regulate gene expression. Furthermore, Vitamin A supports optimal immune function, aids in maintaining good vision as well as red blood cell production and also protects our lungs and skin. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore needs a bit of fat to facilitate conversion and can be stored by our bodies in our liver.
Oyster mushrooms are very popular due to their delicate flavour and bite. Mushrooms are also often called a vegetarian’s or vegan’s meat – they are high in protein and most species can be regarded as good source of iron. Most mushrooms offer additional health benefits such as cardiovascular health due to their cholesterol lowering effect and immune boosting capability. Some sun dried mushrooms are even able to store Vitamin D and therefore help in preventing that winter blues.
Smoked garlic just like fresh garlic in general contains allicin which is a sulphur compound with potent anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial effects to fight off any infection in this beginning cold & flu season.
Majoran is a common kitchen herb but as so many other humble kitchen herbs it has medicinal properties. Majoran tea is used for symptoms such as runny nose, colds and coughs as well as poor appetite and upset tummies especially in kids.
Red spinach is a very pretty leafy green that boasts with folate (B9), Vitamin C and iron. It is related to amaranth that you may know as ancient grain and its leaves add a great earthy flavour in your salads or any other dish as warm side salad. To preserve most of its nutritional value it is best not to heat your leafy greens too much why I usually just toss them through right after the end.
Prep time: 15 min, cooking time: 15 min, easy
1/2 medium size butternut pumpkin
4 medium to large size oyster mushrooms
2-4 cloves of smoked garlic according to your liking
1/4 bunch majorcan fresh
2 cups of red spinach leaves
celtic sea salt and fresh pepper if you like
ghee or coconut oil to cook
lemon juice of 1/2 a lemon freshly pressed ideally
- peel the butternut pumpkin and remove all seeds and cut into spaghetti- like noodles using a mandolin or a zest peeler
- peel cloves of smoked garlic and cut into quarters lengthwise
- clean oyster mushrooms with a paper towel or use a soft brush to remove all debris (do not wash your mushrooms!)
- wash about quarter of a bunch of your Majoran bunch and press it dry with a kitchen cloth or paper towel
- wash and spin dry your red spinach leaves
- press 1/2 lemon
- warm up 2 frying pans to medium heat and add 1 tsp of ghee or coconut oil in each
- add smoked garlic into the pan and fry for 1 minute until gold brown, move to the edge of the pan to keep warm but stop from further frying
- add oyster mushrooms to the pan with the garlic and fry them on both sides for about 1-2 minutes
- add pumpkin spaghetti into the second pan and fry for about 2 minutes until the pumpkin is semi-cooked, add 1 cup of water (I prefer filtered) to the pan and reduce heat so the noodles steam cook instead of boil
- add the fresh majoran to the pan with the oyster mushrooms and put a little salt on your mushrooms after turning them flipping them
- check your pumpkin pasta to be ‘al dente’ and still have some bite to them, pour off any remaining liquid and add salt ( and fresh pepper if you like)
- toss the red spinach leaves through your pumpkin noodles and transfer into a bowl or onto your plate
- sprinkle to lemon juice on top to increase iron absorption from your greens
- top with your mushrooms, fried garlic and majoran and add a splash of olive oil