Running around town picking up supplies, I sneaked in a visit to our local Vetro (a Mediterranean food shop) to pick up a bottle of Gusto tart apple syrup. I always have their sweet apple syrup in the pantry but I wanted the tart syrup to make a caramel slice with an apple enhancement. As caramel slice is already very sweet, the tart syrup is a better option than the sweet syrup, hence my dash into the shop. I had to dash for if I linger, I end up with a basket full of other goodies and that is a killer for my grocery budget (not because they are expensive but rather than I am spending my grocery budget on food we don’t need leaving less (mmm, more like no) money for food we do need.
Each bottle of Gusto syrup comes with a teeny tiny leaflet of recipes and ideas on how to use the apple syrup. Among the recipes included is an Apple Syrup Cake – the recipe can also be found here and here (Bachology Lynda has made the cake and included a glowing review and a lovely picture). It sounds and looks like a great cake and I am interested in trying to make a dairy free version.
We eat anything and everything in our house as long as it doesn’t come with preservatives and chemical enhancements. We do eat such stuff but only if we don’t have other options available. We love dairy – our milk is blue top and we eat butter not faux-butter substitutes (ie margarine). However, Miss M has ongoing joint issues and a high aversion to dairy products, so I have trimmed dairy from our diet to help her cut dairy out completely. Hence the reason to try baking a dairy free cake.
The teeny tiny booklet also offers a recipe for pasta salad. The Mopp is a very lazy lunch eater and despite working at home, he cannot be bothered making himself a sandwich or reheating leftovers, choosing instead to wolf down a bowl of muesli with milk and/or yoghurt. In an effort to get him eating more vegetables and fruit, I am endeavouring to have a ready to go salad in the fridge so he can just dish some up. Pasta is very popular in our house and any leftovers are fought over – it’s usually the first up that gets the best school lunch.
Gusto have a website with a recipe page, however the recipes are coming soon. If you have purchased some of their apple syrup then you will already have the recipe for the salad. If you haven’t, then it’s worth buying some syrup to make this pasta salad as it is very tasty. I have included the recipe below with a few very slight changes. I used goat feta as it is slightly more acceptable as a dairy-free option. I didn’t have any spirals, fusilli or farfalle (bow-ties) so colourful vegetable pasta shapes went into the salad instead. I used whole almonds with their skins still on, and the full measure of pesto (the recipe suggests 70 – 100 g). I have no idea what flavour pesto I used as I had made some back in late summer and froze it without writing down the flavour (something I have a bad habit of doing). As for the chorizo, I assumed that cured chorizo was required (not fresh chorizo sausage). Only two were required and the chorizo’s I have in the freezer are very petite sausages – about 33 g each. I wondered if two would be enough.
Anyhow the salad is quick to make – taking only as long as it takes to cook the pasta al dente. And it is very tasty – the almonds add a nice crunch and 2 chorizo is quite enough. They add a bite of heat but don’t overpower the other flavours. I do believe this will be a regular lunch salad in our house – a great excuse to keep a stock of tart apple syrup in the pantry (which, when added to the sweet apple syrup, the appelstroop, the apple sauce and the other apple syrup, is getting quite overloaded. I feel the need to buy a special French Country Hutch Dresser to store my apple products away from prying eyes and hungry teenagers).
Gusto’s Chorizo & Feta Pasta Salad
500 g pasta (spirals or similar)
2 T Gusto tart apple syrup
2 chorizo sausages (about 65 g), sliced
½ cup whole almonds
200 g goat feta
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
100 g basil pesto
Salt & pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, add the apple syrup to a hot pan. Add the chorizo and almonds and cook, stirring, until the syrup caramelizes and coats the nuts & sausages. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Dice the feta and cut the tomatoes in half.
Drain the cooked pasta and stir the pesto through. Add the sausages & almonds, the feta & tomatoes and gently toss together to combine.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serves 4-6 depending on how greedy the teenagers are.