European Inventive Accident Pasta


Samantha Ellett takes a delicious forkful of a delightful European accident Tyler Grant invented during his travels across the pond. Photograph by Tyler Grant.

By Tyler Grant

Here’s one recipe that’ll fill your belly and keep you warm during the waning days of winter’s grasp. I first dabbled with this one after watching a flatmate in Germany toil over a stove. My thoughts of being able to one-up her resulted in this. It’s a touch on the heavy side, but a lot on the delicious side. This is the only dish I make using all four elements, so clear your stovetop and your stomach.

The Fixings:

800g-1kg of penne or rigatoni

3-4 palm size ham steaks

1 small onion

2 stocks of broccoli

250ml of whipping cream (liquid)

250ml milk (your choice, but I opt for 2%)

150-200g of feta cheese

3 cubes of vegetable soup stock or 2 tbsp vegetable soup stock powder

1-2 tsp of lemon juice

Pepper to taste

Course of action:

Fill a large pot with water, salt, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and get the other fixings ready. This may seem odd to the seasoned chef, but a large pot of water needs a fair amount of time to boil. Seeing as this is the case, it should provide you with plenty of time to do your slicing and dicing. I also do this to make sure all the ingredients are piping hot at the same time.

Cut the broccoli in to bite-size pieces, and place them in whatever you use to steam vegetables. I have this nifty pot/steamer combo that sits one on top of the other.  Throw this on one of the back elements, but hold off on firing up the burner. Keep in mind, there’s a lot less water used in the steaming process, so the broccoli can be ready before you know it.

Cube the ham steaks into fingernail size chinks and toss them into a frying pan with the finely chopped onion. Like the broccoli, hold off on cooking these till everything is closer to being ready.

In a medium size pot, pour the whipping cream and milk in. Crumble the feta cheese with your hand into the cream/milk combination. Next, add the soup stock. If you’re using the cubes, bust them up with your fingers. Squirt in the lemon juice. Add pepper to taste.

All good things come to those who wait:

Penne can take a while depending on how soft you like it. El dente is the pasta connoisseur’s choice, but it’s up to you. Penne perfection is around 12-15 minutes depending on how hot your element gets. Once the pasta’s bubbling away, you can start the other things.

Fry the ham and onions on medium to high heat, but try to time it to be done when the pasta is — that means the onions are golden, and is just starting to get liquidy-film on it.

As for the sauce, there’s some cooking anomaly that causes the lemon juice to not make the milk and cream curdle. Trust me on this, it won’t get chunky and it’ll taste great. Be sure to keep the sauce on low heat until the cheese is melted or has mostly melted. Stir periodically to prevent the cheese from melting to the bottom of the pot.

Lastly, and it’s important that this step is last, steam the broccoli. Ideally, you want it a little crunchy, so, like the ham and onions, time it to be ready when your pasta is.

The Mixing:

Drain the pasta, and toss it back into the large pot. Then, put the broccoli, ham and onions on top the pasta. Now, pour the sauce over everything, and toss it all like you would a salad. This will get the sauce over everything, and will help melt any last bits of cheese.

Serve up a storm:

The best way to a member of the opposite sex’s heart is through his or her stomach. Keeping this in mind, dish out a couple spoonfuls, slice up some Italian bread, pour a couple glasses of your favourite wine, and watch the smiles, while basking in the glorious compliments.

Disclaimer: Tyler Grant cannot be held responsible for inadvertent feelings of lust brought on by the consuming of his European pasta invention.