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a yummy substitute for maccas: pasta with smoked salmon and broccoli

There are two things I try to do when cooking. The first is to try to cram as many nutrients into the dish as possible (there are some delightful exceptions, Bacon Pasta being the one that springs to the front of my mind) and the second, to cook a massive amount.

The first criteria came about during my years as an undergrad uni student. I was listening to Triple J in my first year and listening to one of the presenters interview a young uni student about various aspects of her lifestyle.  When asked about the ways in which her diet had changed since moving out of her parents’ home she declared ‘I think starvation is a student rite of passage.’

While I could see what she was getting at, this comment largely pissed me off. Starvation is horrible and insidious. It should be regarded a serious problem (indeed, it affects over two thirds of the global population). It is true that financial constraints are a major factor in deciding what you can and cannot afford food wise when you are a student living pay to pay and unearthing some gold coinage at the bottom of your back pack is cause for celebration (seriously, I found $2 once it got me two packets of mi goreng noodles and an apple. SCORE! Dinner was sorted with 10 cents change). But the idea that starvation is something to all students should go through is appalling.

When faced with these challenges it is important to think creatively and finely hone your cooking skills with regard to cheap and seemingly mismatched ingredients. This style of cooking is conducive to eating well as there is a lot of fresh produce that regularly either goes on sale or stays cheap all year round and can be made tasty with certain spices or a bit of onion and garlic. One does not need to starve or even eat badly on a tight budget.

As for the second criterion, cooking a massive amount is always a good thing as it means you can live on leftovers for your lunches, which is cheaper and usually better for you then getting café food which is usually doused in oil and salt to make it tastier. Plus, there are several dishes that taste better the next day (Spaghetti Bolognaise, most pasta sauces, paella… the list goes on).

Anyway, I was doing my grocery shopping and grabbed some ingredients, most of which were on sale. I got home and stared at them all for a while before coming up with the following concoction, which actually turned really well (I love it when that happens!).


Olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced, white parts only
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 heads of broccoli, florets trimmed into bite sized pieces
1 500g packet of Spiral Pasta
2 tbs sour cream
¼ cup freshly chopped dill
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
100g smoked salmon torn into little pieces (it’s a good idea to get your smoked salmon out before you start cooking and let it breathe. This does fabulous things for the flavour.)


1. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sturdy based pan. Add the leek and garlic and turn the heat down to low and cook for 30 minutes (until it is softened and slightly caramelised). While this is going on, place your lemon zest and fresh dill in a small bowl. Add a little olive oil and a pinch or two of salt and stir thoroughly.

2. When the leeks and garlic have been cooking for about 15 minutes, put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet. After the pasta has been boiling for five minutes, add the broccoli so that it cooks in salty, starchy goodness. Drain and return to the pot.

3. Add the sour cream to the pan with the leek and onion and stir until well combined. Pour the leek and garlic mix over the pasta and broccoli, add your lemon zest mixture and the smoked salmon and toss thoroughly.

This pasta is delicious hot or cold.

Serves 5

By Emma Robinson

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