I took some time out from blogging over the past fortnight because it didn’t sit right with me to do normal updates as though an enormous uprising wasn’t happening in America in response to police brutality, murder, and systemic oppression of Black people. That uprising is so enormous — so powerful — that there was nothing else worth knowing about. Frankly, I didn’t want to hear my own voice. I’ve been donating to bail funds, signing petitions and doing a lot of reading, and — in order of their usefulness — I encourage anyone and everyone to do the same and to reflect hard if reflection is needed, and if you want any recommendations or thoughts just ask me! There are parallels between the failures of America and the failures of our own police force in New Zealand and the specificity of the Black Lives Matter cause to America doesn’t mean we’re removed from its impact. This is not a definitive statement on what’s going on or what the best response is — but just as much as I needed to shut up for a while, now I need to not, you know?
This recipe for spaghetti with horseradish butter was domiciled in my brain for a long time — actual months — before I had the opportunity to make it. Despite being mostly at home during the various levels of lockdown I was never quite alone, and this was a recipe I knew I had to make alone — in case it was terrible, so no one else would be marred by the experience — or in case it was incredible, so I could selfishly yet serenely enjoy its abundance all to myself. Happily, it was the latter. Quite incredible.
Horseradish belongs to a particularly brusque family which includes wasabi, mustard, cabbage, broccoli and radishes, so even if you’ve never tried it this should give you some clue as to its flavour — clean, grassy, and more sinus-exfoliating than Buckley’s Canadiol expectorant, if consumed in large quantities. There’s a delicacy to horseradish though, a sort of gauzy pepperiness that cuts through richness in an elegant way, thus making it perfect for this simple buttery pasta. That being said, this sauce would be equally delicious made with wasabi or mustard instead.
The butter is quickly made in a blender — based on this recipe I blogged about last year — and it’s fulsome and creamy and, well, buttery, or at least as close as my tastebuds can recall butter to be from the times before I was vegan. Any sharpness from the horseradish is mellowed out by the flood of richness from the coconut oil, but then any overwhelming richness from said oil is tempered with just enough harshness from the horseradish.
The quantity of butter this recipe makes could absolutely be sufficient for two people’s worth of spaghetti — perhaps even three — although I wouldn’t want to make that call personally. Much as I love it, I understand horseradish can be a somewhat divisive flavour — so perhaps it’s for the greater good if you make this just for yourself, too.
Spaghetti with Horseradish Butter
A recipe by myself.
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon vinegar (I used malt, cider or red wine would be good too)
- 1 heaped tablespoon grated horseradish, from a jar
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of salt
- 100g spaghetti or dried pasta of your choice
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, for garnish
1: Either in a high-speed blender or using a stick blender in a small bowl, blitz the almond milk, ground almonds, vinegar and horseradish. You can also add a pinch of turmeric for colour if you like. It might feel a bit ineffectual blending such a small quantity of liquid but it will come together when you add the oil.
2: Add the oil and salt and blend thoroughly for about thirty seconds or until the mixture is thick and smoothly pureed. If you are using a stick blender, drizzle it in slowly as you’re blending, but if you’re using an actual blender just chuck it all in. Taste to see if it needs more salt, and refrigerate while you make the pasta.
3: Bring a large pan of water to the boil (or: boil the kettle and then tip that into your pan, which is much faster) and salt generously. Once the water is boiling, tip in the pasta and cook for ten to twelve minutes or until tender.
4: Drain the pasta, retaining about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Stir in as much of the horseradish butter as you like – I used the whole lot – along with a little of the cooking water, the starchiness of which will cohere with the butter to form a delicate sauce.
5: Serve, sprinkled with the parsley. Serves 1.
Notes: You can use refined or unrefined coconut oil successfully here — unrefined will give a slight coconut flavour, but I guess we’re used to that by now. You could try making this with a different plant milk but almond’s neutral (dare I say nonexistent) flavour works best here — if that’s not available I would go for rice milk instead.
Efuge Efuge, by Stelios Kazantzidis. As they say in the youtube comments, The Wire season two brought me here, and this song is so enigmatic — especially that mournful yet body-motivating chorus.
Germ Free Adolescents by X Ray Spex. Ugh I love this song, the way Poly Styrene’s voice cracks and then soars, it’s so grim yet so uplifting, like a — I don’t know, all I can think of is watching an albatross fly over the setting sun but then it swoops down and kicks you in the face and then flies off again and you’re like, “you know what, that belligerent albatross probably had their reasons,” because it’s so beautiful.
King of the World, by Billy Porter from the off-Broadway musical Songs for a New World. Porter was part of the original cast but due to a contractual conflict he didn’t appear on the cast recording — fortunately he recorded a version of this glorious song for his 2005 live album At the Corner of Broadway and Soul. Even in audio form you can feel his acting — but the singing! In that final chorus! When he inverts the melody and throws it towards the sky! Like a non-belligerent albatross!
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