My children and I get a lot of exercise five days per week - we walk to and from school, rain or shine! The walk takes about 25 minutes. Luckily for my daughter, she only has to walk to and from school once per day, whereas my 4- and 2-year-old sons and I have to walk to and from school twice per day. Well, okay, so my 2-year-old gets to sit happily in his stroller, so life is easy for him! However, my 4-year-old and I walk at least 10 per hours week and we have fun doing it. Sure, it is a chore, pushing a heavy stroller and keeping my other 2 children on their best behavior while walking next to the road, and sometimes we get soaked down to the skin if it happens to be raining (it is uncanny how many times the rain waits until it's time to walk to school!), but generally my mindset is that at least we are getting our exercise and vitamin D (if the sun happens to be shining).
When we get back in the morning, after having left my daughter at school, I usually begin work on any recipes I may make that day. I really look forward to this time and always go over my ingredient lists and recipe instructions over a cup of coffee, setting out any ingredients to come to room temperature (eggs, butter, milk, etc.).
After I pick my daughter up my from school, I don't often have enough time to prepare dinner. If I am planning a special meal, I'll make it after we get back in the morning and then heat it up for dinner. And yes, I always sample a bit for lunch!
This pasta with roasted mushrooms, eggplant and olives was a meal that I mostly prepared the day before, and then cooked the pasta on the following day, mixing the roasted bits and the dressing with the pasta just before serving. You can't do this with any meal, but it'll work for most.
What a lovely and beautiful-tasting dish! This is the first time I've used such a pretty pasta; it's called casarecce. It is accompanied by roasted portobello mushrooms, baby eggplants, kalamata olives and garlic, then dressed in lemon-olive oil dressing and scattered with soft goat's cheese and fresh basil.
This is not a cheap dish - expect to hand over some extra cash for those delicious portobello mushrooms and goat's cheese - but you'll find that by paying more for quality ingredients, the taste will be absolutely gorgeous.
I had never tasted goat's cheese before, so this was the most exciting part for me. The cheese was very soft and creamy and had only a slight tang to it. It was very pleasant and made a great contrast in textures.
After spending 2 hours of the day constantly walking (oh, and also listening to all three of my children try to talk to me at once while I watch out for cars!), it's always great to come home to an easy (as it was mostly prepared beforehand) gourmet meal such as this one.
Casarecce With Eggplant, Mushroom & Basil
- 8 baby eggplants halved lenthways
- 8 portobello mushrooms thickly sliced
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ 120g pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthways
- juice of 1 lemon
- 150 g soft goat’s cheese crumbled
- 500 g casarecce pasta or other short pasta
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 250C.
- Gently toss eggplants, mushrooms and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season and cook on a foil-lined tray for 8-10 minutes. Add olives and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until eggplant is golden and tender.
- Whisk lemon juice and remaining ¼ cup (60ml) oil in a bowl and season. Slice eggplant into 2cm pieces, then toss all the vegetables with the goat’s cheese and lemon dressing. Set aside.
- (Note, that I did not toss the vegetables with the cheese at this point. Seeing how soft the cheese was, I didn’t want to crush it, so I scattered it on top of the individual servings along with the basil, just before serving.)
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain and gently toss with the vegetables and basil leaves, then serve.