Hands up if you ever cook with alcohol?
I must admit, I do it very rarely. A splash of white wine in a mushroom risotto is not unheard of, but that’s usually about as far as I go – I very rarely use port, or brandy, or sherry, or any other kind of spirit. My main problem is that I never have that stuff in the house. I’m usually a wine or beer drinker, so having to buy a whole bottle of port just to add a glug to my gravy a couple of times a year isn’t too appealing.
But I have the solution!
Just A Splash offers small pouches of five different alcohols – sherry, marsala, port, rum, and brandy – which are specially blended for using in your cooking. No more half used bottles of random things taking up space in the kitchen! The pouches will encourage you to be more inventive with your cooking – you can try new things without having to commit to buying a full bottle (much cheaper).
Using alcohol in your cooking can actually be quite a sophisticated way to bring out the flavours of your other ingredients – in short, as the alcohol evaporates, it carries flavour from the other ingredients up to our noses, and since smell is such a big part of enjoying a meal, cooking with alcohol can really help to bring a dish to life! There’s more about the science of cooking with alcohol on the Just A Splash website, if you’re interested.
When Just A Splash asked if I’d like to try using their culinary alcohols in a recipe, I immediately knew I wanted to make this veggie marsala. I’ve always thought chicken marsala looked interesting (apart from the chicken, obviously), and have wanted to try a vegetarian version, but I haven’t wanted to buy a full bottle of marsala just for one recipe. I’m glad I’ve finally been able to give it a try! It is delicious!
If you’ve never tried marsala (a fortified wine), the flavour of this veggie marsala is a difficult one to describe – it’s slightly sweet, and super silky and luxurious. That’s really the only way I can describe it – you’ll just have to try it for yourself. The sauce is packed with vegetables, and it perfectly coats the tagliatelle for a creamy, comforting dinner. This is exactly my kind of food (pasta, veggies, booze! Can it get any better?). I packed my veggie marsala with vegetables – mushrooms, courgette (zucchini), tomatoes, shallots, aubergine (eggplant) – so you will never miss the meat.
I’m glad I was finally able to give this veggie marsala a try! Let me know if you have any ideas for how I should use the other pouches – I’m definitely thinking bananas flambéed in rum sounds like the way to go!
- 2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
- 2 tbsp oil, divided
- ~ 7 shallots or tiny onions, peeled and halved
- 1 tsp sugar
- 200 g (~ 2 cups) small mushrooms (I used small chestnut mushrooms), cut in half
- 1 courgette (zucchini), cut into chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tbsp plain flour
- 100 ml (scant 1/2 cup) marsala wine
- 250 ml (~ 1 cup) vegetable stock
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- ~ 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp creme fraiche (or double / heavy cream)
- Cooked tagliatelle, to serve
- Fresh parsley, to serve
- Cut the aubergines (eggplants) into chunky dice (~ 2 inches in size). Lay the pieces out on a baking tray, and toss with 1 tbsp oil. Roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for 25-30 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1tbsp oil in a large frying pan, and add the halved shallots. Cook over a medium-low heat for a couple of minutes, then add the sugar and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until the shallots are fairly soft and just beginning to caramelise. Add the mushrooms, courgette (zucchini), and garlic, and cook over a medium heat for a further 5-10 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Add the cooked aubergine to the pan.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, and mix to coat. Add the marsala wine, and turn the heat up a little to bring the liquid to a boil, scraping any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow it to cook for a few minutes until halved in volume. Add the vegetable stock, mustard, and halved tomatoes, and simmer for a few more minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the creme fraiche. Mix well to give a glossy sauce. Serve with tagliatelle.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/4 of the recipe, not including pasta.