There have certainly been times in my life where funds were less then adequate and I've really had to put my thinking cap on where food is concerned. Back in the late eighties, being the exuberant and perhaps a little impetuous young woman I was, I up and quit my job without bothering to find another one to go to first. Not the best approach to maintaining a stable life. Never the less, in the weeks it took me to get myself gainfully re-employed, I concocted a number of meals that could be made out of the supplies I already had in my kitchen cupboard.
The first was pancakes - easily done, thanks to a good supply of flour, eggs and milk. I had these for breakfast virtually every day (feeding a number of friends, also out of work at that time), served with maple syrup (until that ran out) or honey (until that ran out too). In those days I still drank orange juice, so I'd splurge the two dollars to buy a litre of Daily Juice - everyone started the day happy with a full belly.
Another great povo meal was steamed vegetables. Sweet Chili sauce was yet to hit the big time back then, so I used to eat my steamed potatoes, carrots and zuchinnis with a big dollop of sour cream - if I shopped right and didn't invite anyone to dinner, steamed veggies and sour cream could last an entire week.
But on one occasion I did make the mistake of inviting friends to dinner. I put my thinking cap on then scoured my cupboard, trying to work out exactly what I could feed my guests. I had nothing that would really do except a big bag of spirali pasta. I couldn't afford the mince to make a bolognese sauce. Instead I grabbed my (almost empty) purse and headed off to the fruit a veg market. I spotted garlic - twenty cents for one whole bulb. I grabbed that, then spied the fresh chilies section. They were pricey - if you were going to buy a whole kilo, which I was not. Turned out five little fresh chilies cost in the vicinity of eighteen cents. Whoo-hoo! On the way out the door, I snagged a bunch of fresh coriander for fifty cents, and set off home.
Of course pasta is never good without the cheese, so I stopped at the supermarket, grabbed a bag of shredded parmesan, and then I was set.
Back at home, I threw everything together as quick as a flash. Before I knew it my guests were knocking on the door - to my delight, one had a French bread stick under one arm, the other was carrying a bottle of chardonnay. The house was filled with the aroma of garlic, fresh chilies and coriander. I served up a massive bowl of pasta and let everyone help themselves - it was one of the best dinners parties I've ever hosted. And of course it immortalised Garlic Chili Spirali for me as a gourmet delight - not the povo food I'd originally considered it to be.
1 cup spirali pasta
2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and minced 2 fresh chilies, sliced (remove the seeds if you don't like them too hot)
1 whole bunch fresh coriander, chopped
2 tblsp shredded parmesan cheese
1. Boil the spirali in a heavy bottomed saucepan for about 10 minutes or until cooked to al dente.
2. Drain the spirali and set aside. Reheat the saucepan and melt the butter.
3. Add the minced garlic and reduce the heat - do not let the garlic burn.
4. Add the chopped chilies and stir to combine.
5. Then add the coriander and stir for about half a minute to release the beautiful aroma of the herbs.
6. Add the spirali back into the saucepan and stir until the garlic, chili and coriander has coated the pasta.
7. Finally add the parmesan and stir. Serve in a pasta bowl with crusty French bread and a glass of wine on the side. Garnish with a little extra cheese if desired.