The inspiration to cook Pasta Nigerian, and I truly mean Nigerian, has been on the radar for months now. A Facebook friend of mine Bola, put up a status update about how difficult it is to find Knorr seasoning cubes in her corner of the US. Comments were coming in fast, and as you would expect with any conversation about seasoning cubes, people come crawling out of the woodwork with their scaremongering tactics. Lol. Oh dear, I am not even going to go into that conversation at all. Even people who have boldly proclaimed that oh, they can’t tolerate MSG have eaten my food many times, and they are still alive o. All the “symptoms” they say they get from eating food cooked with MSG, I am still waiting to hear they got any. Like the “gluten free” trend, people sometimes just jump on the bandwagon of something. Not saying MSG is the bestest thing in the world, but people, give yourselves a break. Anyways, one of the anti MSG proponents came up with other spices and Nigerian seasonings that she uses, and how you don’t need “Maggi”. A counter argument from someone else was, “so are we supposed to use Iru to season spaghetti”? Comments after that found it funny, but it struck a chord with me. Why not? Why can’t we use Iru to season spaghetti? What would be so bad about it, so I decided then that I was going to make a Native Spaghetti dish. I wrote it down months ago, and with each week I say I am going to try it, something else takes its place.
The Nigerian elections were to hold on Feb 14th and I thought oh goodie, I don’t need to come up with a Valentines Menu, well the elections have been postponed and suddenly I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know what I was going to cook. Last year, I did do something, and I felt I must continue the tradition. The starter Moin Moin Savarins didn’t occur to me until Sunday night. I thought phew, that is out of the way. I already knew what I was doing for dessert. I had posted it in December, but without a recipe, now the main course. It bugged me for hours, until I looked through the list of things I am yet to cook and Native Spaghetti popped out. I thought oooooh, I can try that, but Pasta for date night, isn’t so romantic is it, now this is where Jamie Oliver comes in. He has a show on Tv called Jamie’s 30 minute meals, and I was watching him make a roast peppers sauce with one of these funny shaped Pastas, and I thought whoa, that is what I need. His recipe said use sun dried tomatoes, if you don’t have, you can just roast the cherry tomatoes with the peppers in the oven at once with some salt, and garlic. Oh yesssssss. That is the authentic Italian way of making a Pasta or Pizza sauce. I have seen that from old school Italian Chefs like Gennaro Contaldo, love that man and his sexy Italian accent and Antonio Carluccio, OMG, you need to watch their shows where they travel around Italy sampling old Italian cooking. Food network addict alert. I will still use my native spaghetti idea, but I will use pretty pasta, and what pasta is prettier than Farfalle – those cute bow shaped pastas.
Yes, the idea started as purely Nigerian, but hey Pasta is Italian, and I am using an Italian method of roasting the peppers and tomatoes for the sauce. Instead of garlic though, not sure how garlic will work with Iru, I will use Onions. Italians use Basil in the sauce, but I wasn’t going to use Efinrin (scent leaf), too strong, but of course, what is the next best flavourful Nigerian herb, Uziza. Leggo!!!!
You will loooooove this, I promise. Valentines dining in is about simple, but classy and special food. The kind you will get at a restaurant, but this time more special. Your better half won’t see this coming, and you can create a lasting food memory this 2015 Valentines. Nigeria meets Italy, have I told you the story of my cousin Adun, saying Italians are our European cousins? Seriously, this is sooooooo true. We are so alike in so many ways. I will save the story for another Italian-Nigerian Fusion dish that I will be putting up hopefully in the next couple of weeks. Let’s Cook.
Remember, if you want to save this recipe, click on the save button and it will be added immediately to your Big Oven Account. If you don’t have a Big Oven account, sign up for one first, before you click on the Save button. Thanks
- Farfalle Pasta - or any uncommon pasta shape
- 2 tbs of Iru
- 2 - 3 pieces of red bell pepper
- 12 - 15 pieces of cherry tomatoes - or 5 pieces of regular tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 1 shallot - optional
- 1 - 2 pieces of ata rodo - scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
- A handful of Chopped Uziza
- Palm Oil
- Softened Smoked fish
- Smoked red prawns
- Beef Stock
- Salt and/or seasoning cubes if you need
- You can choose to blend your peppers raw, or go the Italian way of roasting in the oven. Jamie Oliver's 30 minute pasta dish inspired this recipe, and he roasted the peppers, so I will too. 9jaFoodie also has a recipe with roasting peppers for our stew. Place all the raw peppers and onions on a baking try and sprinkle with salt. The salt not only adds flavour, but it helps extract the water. Jamie used black pepper too, but I wasn't convinced, so I left it out.
- Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, you should see bits of the peppers blacken. Yes, that is what you want. If you have ever bought jar roasted peppers, you will see the blackened bits.
- Transfer to a food processor. Blend till almost smooth
- Heat up palm oil in a pan and add chopped onions. You only need about a cooking spoon of palm oi
- Add the pureed pepper and fry
- Before it completely fries, add the iru and smoked fish and beef stock. I boiled my smoked fish with my meats, so the flavour is quite intense, and I didn't need salt or seasoning cubes
- While the sauce is reducing, boil some salt water, and add the pasta
- Allow this to fry, and then add chopped uziza
- Give it another minute or two for the flavour of the uziza leaves to infuse, and there you have it, the Nigerian Pasta Sauce. Hey, we are a nation of Pasta lovers too, high time we have our own unique signature Pasta Sauce eh
- Now the sauce is ready, the pasta should have cooked al dente (firm but not hard). Drain it
- Add it to the sauce and carefully toss around. You may choose to add some extra chopped uziza leaves, for added flavour.
- Give it a minute or two, for the pasta to be well coated by the sauce, and you are done. The taste is amazeballs, trust me
Make Pasta special this Valentines. Dining in is the new eating out