5-, 6-, 7-a-day

OK, government. I'll play along with your little scheme. "5 a day" - that's catchy. And people will remember it. But I'm not so sure raisins and canned peaches have the same nutrients as a fresh apple or carrot. Stop pandering, government. It is really so simple to include tons of colorful veggies and fruits into your daily eats, without stopping to count how many or checking to see whether you've had your required dosage. Sorry, but 2 cups of veggies ain't gonna cut it (and I'm not going to accurately be measuring out my chopped bell pepper to see whether it's a cup or not).

How about, instead of focusing on these biased government schemes, we instead try and think about incorporating beauty and variety onto our plates? Vegetables just make dinner look prettier. I think my pasta would have looked spectacularly boring if I hadn't added the spinach, the peppers, etc.

5 a day Pasta

Pick up some nice wholemeal spelt pasta to start with. It's a nutritious grain, easy on the tummy, and far more exciting than a plate of white spaghetti.

Next, think about your all-time favorite vegetables. Write down a list of your top 5. In fact, let me know in the comments section. I'd love to hear it!

Personally, I'm a fan of: spinach, carrots, artichoke, cucumber, and fennel. Kind of a random assortment, but so delicious!

The whole concept (OK it's not really a "concept") of this pasta dish is to create your own sauce.

Here are the essentials to start with:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

Then you add in whatever veg you fancy. Phil prepared ours the other night with the following:

  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices and roasted
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, roasted
  • spinach leaves

The third step (and this is crucial) is to add herbs and spices and flavour boosters. We like:

  • red chili flakes (or just a chopped red chili)
  • oregano
  • basil
  • a splash of balsamic vinegar

And of course, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Feel free to experiment with whatever you have on your spice and herb rack. Of course, fresh herbs win every time!

After all of this, it's great to top it with a little something. We used rawmesan, but go ahead and grate your favorite cheese on top while it's still warm. Or try sprinkling on some toasted pine nuts if you're not a dairy fan.

Result! An easy and delicious way to get all kinds of fresh veggies into your day (and that's only ONE meal).