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Brittany Gerow/THE VARSITY

PUTTANESCA

This traditional Italian pasta dish takes its name from the Italian word for prostitute. The dish was reputed to be popular among prostitutes because it is inexpensive and extremely nutritious.

2 Tbsp of olive oil

½  a tin of anchovies

3 cloves of garlic

1 tomato

A handful of olives

Basil or spinach (optional)

Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Pasta

Begin boiling water, when water is boiled, add in pasta and cook until al dente.

Mince the garlic and dice the tomato.

On medium heat, in a frying pan, heat the oil and then add the garlic and anchovies and cook for five minutes. Add the olives and tomato to the pan. Once everything is warm, drop the heat to low and add the basil or spinach.

When the pasta is cooked, drain the water and mix with the sauce.  Serve hot and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

FRENCH COTTAGE MUSSELS

This French peasant-food recipe is dead simple, tastes great, and will add a little chic to your table. It’s great for convincing parents or dates that you’ve developed some culinary ability.

1 kg of mussels

2 carrots

1 stalk of celery

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

1 bulb of fennel

1½ cups of white wine

Splash of cream (optional)

Make sure the mussels are closed. If the mussels are open tap the outside of the shell. If the shell doesn’t close, discard it, along with any mussel whose shell is cracked .

Thinly slice the carrots, fennel, and celery, dice the onion, and mince the garlic. Sauté the veggies in oil or butter over medium heat until they appear coated. Cover the veggies while they soften making sure to stir frequently.

When the veggies have fully softened add the wine and bring it to a boil. Add the mussels and cover. Cook until mussels have opened — this should take about five minutes.

If using cream add it in now.

Mix the broth in with the mussels. Serve with good bread for dipping into the broth.

INDIAN SPICED POTATOES

For those with dietary restrictions this meatless, gluten-free recipe — borrowed from one of Vancouver’s hottest Indian restaurants — is a spicy delight for modest budgets.

1 lb new potatoes

2 Tbsp oil

1 large onion

1 tsp turmeric

1 Tbsp salt

½  tsp ground cayenne pepper

¼  cup water

Handful of spinach (optional)

Slice the potatoes into ¼ inch slices, dice the onion, and combine the salt and spices in a small bowl.

Heat the oil on medium heat until hot then add the onion, cook for five minutes.

Add the salt and spices cook for a minute, and then add the water and potatoes. Bring water to a boil and drop heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Gently stir the potatoes. If they start to stick add more water.

Cover and cook until soft.

Add the spinach for another couple minutes or until it wilts. Serve as a flavourful side to a protein of your choice.