Nutty Pasta Bake and The Only Man in the House

When I started writing my blog some six months ago now, I had a dilemma over what to call The Husband.  I put some thought into this because I’ve read a fair few women’s (and cookery) magazines in my time and so had lots of inspiration to draw upon.  In particular, Red magazine columnist and now Beauty Editor At Large Rosie Green refers to her husband as Alpha Male or AM for short in her column ‘Life’s Rosie’.  I wasn’t going to use The Husband’s real name so I needed an alias.  I did involve him in this naming process but ultimately I made a unilateral decision and disregarded everything he said, as is the norm.  If his contributions to the conversation had been useful in any way I may have considered them.  This is my vague recollection of the discussion we had over six months ago:

Me: So, what shall I call you?

The Husband (TH): What?

Me: In my blog.  In which manner does one wish to be referred….to….? How do you want me to refer to you? What do you want to be called?!!

TH: What? I don’t know (shrugging of shoulders, indifference)

Me: Well, I can’t use your initials because it’ll just sound……well, odd.  So, do you want to retain an air of mystery? Do you want to be an enigma? Maybe I could call you Alpha Male.

TH: You can’t call me that.

Me: Why not?

TH: Because I’m the only man in the house.

Me: Oh ok. Then, that’s what I’ll call you.  ‘The Only Man in the House’.  I’ll call you TOMITH for short.  Yeah TOMITH…….Erm, maybe not, it sounds stupid.  I’ll call you ‘The Husband’.  Yeah, that’s better.

TH: Yeah, sounds better……..

And so ‘The Husband’ it is and so it shall remain.

Nutty Pasta Bake is one of The Husband’s favourite meals.  It has a couple of his favourite ingredients namely mushrooms and cashews.  He used to make it a lot (he would always put in more cashews than the recipe required) but when I started making it and made it better than him he stopped doing it.  This was probably a good thing since the overuse of cashews was getting a bit out of hand.  This meal has been in our lives for a very long time now.  Although looking at the recipe I see that it’s actually called Nutty Mushroom Bake so I’ve been calling it the wrong name also since a very long time.

It’s from a book called ‘The Complete Vegetarian Pasta Cookbook’, my edition published 1998 and first edition published 1995.  I got the book when I was a student from one of those book clubs where you get together with likeminded bookish folks round at someone’s house to look at what’s on offer and then place an order if there’s anything that takes your fancy.  A book party.  Do those kinds of things still go on these days?  I got the book at the same time as a bright red draught excluder in the shape of a caterpillar.  It had antenna, a cute smiley face and lots of legs.  At least I think it was a draught excluder.  It wasn’t a very good one so now I’m starting to doubt whether we used it for it’s correct purpose.  Oh no, and now I’m remembering I’m starting to feel a sad sense of loss that I don’t still have it in my life.  It went to the charity shop during one of our many house moves.  I hope it went to a nice home.

The book, as the title suggests is full of vegetarian pasta recipes.  No surprises there then.  It’s pretty safe territory with some great tasty ideas and yet there are a few scary looking meals.  Stand out scary dishes for me include: pasta-stuffed cabbage leaves (I don’t think so), cauliflower and stilton terrine (you’ve got to be kidding me) and cabbage and pasta mould (absolutely no way).  Looking at it now it looks incredibly dated.  In fact cabbage and cauliflower feature quite heavily.  There are raw mushrooms as a garnish and serving suggestions include mashed potato……..with pasta?!  I’ve not been very adventurous with trying things from the book (read as I’ve not tried anything that looks a bit gross).  I’ve stuck mostly to tomatoey, saucy and cheesy dishes.  Most unusual is the dessert chapter.  I don’t know about you but cinnamon fettucine with apple and cinnamon sauce just isn’t my bag.  I don’t even know if pasta for pud is normal.  I’m googling it right now……..and look at that, pasta for pudding is a thing.  I’m still not trying it.

For the Nutty Pasta Bake you cook pasta according to the pack instructions, drain, throw in some butter, swirl the pan around, put the lid on and set it aside.  Sauté onion, garlic and dried oregano till the onion is soft.  Add sliced mushrooms, sauté for a couple of minutes more then add a can of chopped tomatoes, and some tomato puree then cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add sliced pimento stuffed green olives and toasted cashews, salt and pepper. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, top with the butter covered cooked pasta, smother with cheese then bake for 20 minutes or so till the cheese is all melty and brown and everything is bubbling.

Except if you look close at the picture you won’t see many, if any mushrooms.  This is because I didn’t have enough mushrooms and thought it would be a good idea to add a can of kidney beans instead to bulk it up.  It made it a bit weird and turned it into a completely different meal.  It wasn’t the Nutty Pasta Bake we know and love but it was still good.  I lost a few wife points as a result of this endeavour but I’ll try and make them up the next time.  Perhaps I’ll add a few extra cashews.


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