Everyone needs a couple of ’go to’ dinners in their repertoire. Those dinners where you can’t think of what else to cook, time is short, you’re tired or there isn’t much in the house. The thing is that these standbys still need to taste good, have some nutritional value and fill you up. I have a few fall back dinners and spicy haloumi pasta is one that turns up quite regularly. I came across it in a Delicious magazine quite some years ago and it quickly became a favourite. It has all the hallmarks of a good standby – its quick, needs only fairly basic pantry/fridge ingredients and the left overs are good reheated for lunch the next day. If you want to make sure you have a well rounded meal serve it with a bit of a side salad, but to be honest sometimes that’s too hard as well.
Pasta and tinned tomatoes are two things I always have in the pantry. With these two basic ingredients and depending on what else you have in, you can make any number of dishes. Even if it is a simple tomato sauce with some onion and garlic served over some pasta with basil and parmesan. Haloumi is also another good thing to have in. As well as just frying it and adding it to a salad (rocket, roast sweet potato, avocado and haloumi makes a substantial salad), it’s also good grated, mixed with some vegetables and turned into fritters (try haloumi, zucchini and mint).
We are fortunate to have growing in the garden a curry leaf tree, an ingredient which lifts this dish. The fragrance and flavour of these leaves is difficult to describe but they really add something, a sort of fresh, light curry flavour but without any heat. If you aren’t able to add fresh leaves you may be able to buy dried ones, but failing that the dish will still taste great.
Spicy Haloumi Pasta
- 2 x 180g packets of haloumi, cut into 1cm square pieces, or there abouts
- 300g pasta (spirals or penne or similar)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground corrainder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 10-12 fresh curry leaves
In a bowl put one tablespoon of the olive oil, spices and haloumi and toss until the haloumi is well coated. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the pack. In a frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for two minutes until it has softened a little. Add the curry leaves, if using and the haloumi and cook until the haloumi is golden. Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Season with salt. (You could at this stage add a few handfuls of baby spinach – it will wilt quickly). Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce. Serve with a green salad.