I've cooked a lot of amazing pastas of the past 20 years, but this was one of the best. The creaminess of the avocado, the tang of the basil and the strength of the goats cheese combine to make a robust pasta with an aftertaste that lasts for ages. Best cooked in autumn, when avocados are in their prime. Ready in 25mins.
12 button mushrooms, some sliced and some cut to chunks
100g goats cheese (katsiki), cubed
1/2 ripe haas avocado, cut into 7-8 pieces
4 roma tomatoes
40g basil paste (or make your own, see note below)
4 teaspoons sunflower seeds
1x pinch salt
1x pinch ground black pepper
500g dried penne pasta
120g fresh baby spinach leaves
1x jar kalamata olives in brine (100ml brine needed for satuee)
(optional) shaved parmesan cheese to garnish
3x tablespoons olive oil
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in a large saucepan, bring 2L water to the boil. Add penne and a small amount of olive oil. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes (or until al dente), being careful not to overcook.
Meanwhile, heat 2x tablespoons in a large fry pan. Add garlic and cook on a very high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add mushrooms, salt and kalamata olive brine, and fry for 2-3 minutes on a very high heat. Be careful with brine quantity (do not immerse mushrooms), and stir constantly as to avoid garlic from burning. At this point the garlic will turn deep purple (from the brine), and dish will resemble a stir fry more than a pasta.
Immediately remove frypan from heat, and use a large saucepan lid to drain off excess brine while keeping sauteed mushroom+garlic mixture. Leave a little brine but dish should not be wet.
Place saucepan on low-medium heat. Add tomatoes, pepper, and basil paste*. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ensure pasta is cooked to al-dente, and immediately place in a collinder. Add butter and 1x tablespoon olive oil, tossing lightly until butter is melted and covering all pasta.
Add torn green olives into frypan. Stir and then add avocado pieces, mixing lightly. Add goats cheese and mix for an additional minute before adding spinach and sunflower seeds.
remove heat. Mix in pasta and serve immediately. Add a small amount of grated parmesan if desired.
If you can't locate any tubes of basil paste, then make your own by using a pestal & mortar to grind 1x bunch basil leaves, 1x pinch salt, enough canola oil to cover, and 1x teaspoon xanthan gum (or cornflour). As always, if using cornflour then be sure to premix with water and stir rapidly as to remove clumps.
This is one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had. The flavours are bold and rich, and balanced. I made this without parmesan and it wasn't lacking in any way, shape or form. Strongly recommended! - 05 Jun 2016