CREATING something entirely new by mixing ingredients from different cultures is one of my passions. It turns the normal and boring into something exotic and unusual.
This time I took the red heart of Italian cooking – Napoletana sauce – and gave it an infusion of Africa by adding masonja (mopane worms) to it.
Bust out of your cooking box and give this a try!
- 250g masonja
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- Half a can tomato puree
- 1 sachet tomato paste
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- Chicken spice
- 250g pasta (preferably the bow tie-shaped one, called farfalle)
- Soak the masonja for 10 minutes in water. It doesn’t really matter if it’s warm or cold water.
- While they are soaking, chop your garlic and dice the onion.
- Pour oil into a heated frying pan and add the onion. Fry on high for two minutes before adding garlic.
- Add the tomato paste and let it sauté with the onion and garlic for two minutes.
- Add the tomato purée and let it simmer for five minutes.
- Add the masonja and the can of chopped tomatoes.
- Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes on a low heat so that it thickens into a gorgeous, rich red sauce. The masonja will swell as they absorb the liquid but their outsides will stay crispy.
- Add the sugar. Season with salt, chicken spice and paprika to taste.
- Add water when the sauce gets too thick. Cook until all the liquid has been reduced.
- Ten minutes before your sauce is ready, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the farfalle until al dente, about 10 minutes.
- Dish and enjoy the delish!
FASCINATING FACTS: MASONJA
- They are caterpillars that become the Emperor moth.
- They eat the leaves of the mopane tree and are enjoyed in southern African countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. In South Africa, they are mostly found in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
- The insides of the caterpillar are carefully squeezed out from the skin. They are then dried in the sun, smoked or boiled.
- They are rich in protein.
FASCINATING FACTS: PASTA
- The word “pasta” is an Italian word which originally comes from Latin meaning "dough, pastry cake".
- The origins of pasta are not exactly clear. Some believe that the idea of noodles was brought to Italy from China by the adventurer Marco Polo in 1271. However, grinding cereals and grain and mixing them with water seems to have a longer history than this in Italy and other countries around the Mediterranean.
- The bow tie-shaped pasta is called farfalle, which is Italian for “butterflies”.
- Neapolitan sauce (also called Napoli or Napoletana sauce) refers to any of the basic tomato-based Italian sauces served with pasta.