Vegemite Pasta (Australia): An Unexpected Favorite

Australian Vegemite Pasta Full Plate

This Vegemite Pasta is a must try! Pasta water and Vegemite combine to make a thin pasta sauce, which then coats a dish of delicious pasta, peas, carrots and grilled chicken.

Story Time…

The first time I tried Vegemite, I was sitting on the floor of my hostel in Paris, France. One of my roommates that night was a very nice friend to talk to. A backpacker on the last leg of 5 weeks backpacking from Australia.

As often happens when you’re sharing a room with someone from another country, the Aussie backpacker, my friend, and I started discussing stereotypes. We listed perceptions we had of each other’s country, and then talked about if these thoughts were accurate or if they were misconceptions (please, I don’t even want to talk about the American stereotypes he had… and how many of them rang true).

During this night, we talked about Australian spiders and kangaroos and accents and Australian spiders and surfing and shrimps on the barbie and Australian spiders.

“Okay, tell me about Vegemite,” I said. “What is it?”

Suddenly, a plastic container with a yellow lid appeared on the ground in front of me. It was a mini jar of Vegemite that had traveled the lengths of Europe with this fella. He handed me a spoon and told me to try it. Naturally, I began by filling up the spoon with the strange brown substance.

Vegemite Pasta Close Up

As I was bringing the spoon close to my mouth, I heard a yell. “WAIT!!! That’s too much. Take almost all of that off of your spoon, trust me.”

At first, I thought he was just being protective over his Vegemite, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to get more until he returned home. Upon tasting my tiny morsel of the spread, though, I discovered what he had actually meant.

The flavor was strong. VERY strong. And it was definitely not a taste that I enjoyed. I made a face of pure disgust and he said, “I know, I know. Almost no Americans like it. But the taste grows on you, I promise.”

Australians LOVE Vegemite

Most Australians eat Vegemite every day, a fact that, up until a few days ago, I did not understand. When it came time to cook Australia, I knew I was going to need to try Vegemite again, and I’ll tell you, I was dreading it.

A few bites of toast with Vegemite were enough to solidify for me that I could never have Vegemite with breakfast. But I knew that Aussies loved the stuff, so I knew that I would need to create a recipe that showcased Vegemite in all of its glory.

Vegemite Pasta Vertical

Vegemite Pasta… Experimentation Gone Right

ENTER: Vegemite Pasta. This dish was the most surprising recipe I’d made so far. As I tasted the final product, I braced myself, preparing to spit my bite right out into the trash. But surprisingly enough, pasta with Vegemite sauce is insanely good.

The key here is to use the Vegemite sparingly. Add just enough to flavor the pasta, but not so much that it’s the only thing you taste. The Vegemite is a contributor to this delicious dish, but it definitely works as an enhancer to the other flavors. The mushrooms, peas, chicken, and parmesan cheese work with the Vegemite to create a dish that is simple and delicious.

Even if you’ve tried Vegemite and you hated it, try out this recipe. It might surprise you just as it surprised me!

Looking for more pasta recipes? Try this Armenian Mantiabour recipe or this recipe for Armenian Rice with Vermicelli Noodles.

Have you tried this Vegemite pasta recipe? Love it or hate it, comment below and let me know! And if you share photos, make sure to tage #theforeignfork so that I can see. Happy Cooking!

Vegemite Pasta

This Vegemite pasta is a must try! Pasta water and Vegemite combine to make a thin pasta sauce, which then coats a dish of delicious pasta, peas, carrots and grilled chicken!

Course Main Course
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Instructions

  1. Marinate a few chicken breasts in a mixture of olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Grill the chicken on a George Foreman grill or on the stove. 

  2. Microwave frozen peas to thaw. 

  3. Sautee mushrooms in olive oil on the stove. 

  4. Cook 5 oz of pasta until they are al dente. As you drain the pasta, reserve the pasta water.

  5. Put the empty pot back on the stove. Melt 2tbsp of butter in the pot and then add the 1-2 tsp of vegemite. Allow the vegemite to start dissolving into the butter.  

  6. As the vegemite is melting, add water into the vegemite, about 2 tbsp at a time. Taste as you go, continuing to add more water until the vegemite flavoring is as strong as you would like it to be. 

  7. The "sauce" should just be a thin coating to give some flavoring to the pasta.

  8. Add the pasta, the mushrooms, the cheese, and the chicken into the pot. You may need to add more vegemite and water to adjust for the amount of food. 

  9. Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese and enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Boil pasta 

Zucchini Slice (Australia): A Foreign Fork Recipe

Australian Zucchini Slice

Zucchini Slice is a savory Australian bread made with zucchini. Fill it with whatever vegetables and cheese you like!

Zucchini Slice is an Australian specialty. It can be served as either a main course or a side dish, but whichever way you choose to enjoy it, it’s delicious. You can fill the bread with whatever you’d like, but today I’ve chosen ham, peas, carrots, red onions, and Kroger’s Private Selection Crumbled Goat Cheese. Have you ever heard of a better combo? I don’t think so! (and if you have, let me know so that I can put those ingredients in this bread too, please.)

I chose to use a bag of frozen peas and carrots for simplicity sake. Before adding them to the batter, microwave them for about 20 seconds– just enough to thaw– and then bring them back to room temperature.

Try my combo or try your own, but either way, try this recipe. Let me know what you think below! If you liked this recipe, try one of my other bread favorites: Albanian Pispili. If you try the Zucchini slice recipe, don’t forget to use #theforeignfork when sharing photos on social media! 

Australian Zucchini Slice

Zucchini Slice is a savory Australian bread made with zucchini. Fill it with whatever vegetables and cheese you like! 

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups zucchini grated (about 2 small zucchini)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus a tbsp
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion roughly chopped
  • 1 cup peas and carrots frozen
  • 1 cup thick slice ham, diced
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. After the zucchini is grated, squeeze it in a kitchen towel to remove all of the liquid. 

  3. In a small bowl, microwave the peas and carrots for about 20 seconds until they thaw. Set aside to bring to room temperature.

  4. On the stove, sauté the red onion in a bit of olive oil for about 4 minutes, just until translucent. Set aside. 

  5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Pour in the olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Whisk to combine.

  6. Add peas, carrots, reserved red onion, zucchini and chopped ham. Mix briefly. 

  7. Add flour and baking powder and mix until well combined. 

  8. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, then spray with non-stick spray.

  9. Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top.

  10. Bake in oven for about 50 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing, then enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from The Clever Carrot

Fairy Bread (Australia): Exploring a Birthday Tradition

Australian Fairy Bread

Fairy Bread is an Australian dessert treat made with bread, butter and sprinkles. It is served on birthdays and is a favorite among the children in the country!

American Birthday Parties… 

Normally, when I think of birthday parties from my childhood, a few staples come to mind. Pizza, of course. A bounce house, most of the time. A circle to watch the birthday girl open her presents. And, the most obvious of all, cake.

Every party had a cake. I mean, was it even a birthday party without one? Soooometimes, you might have been able to squeeze by with cupcakes, but even that was frowned upon. A big, store-bought cake decorated with swirly writing and mounds of sugary frosting flowers. That’s what made a birthday a birthday.

Australian Fairy Bread Front View

An Australian Must-Have Birthday Dessert

But if you ask a kid from Australia what flavors define a birthday celebration, the paramount answer is fairy bread.

“What’s fairy bread?” you may ask. Easy. Take a slice of the cheapest, most processed white bread that you can find. Slather it with a thick layer of butter. Dump mounds of sprinkles (AKA jimmies AKA Hundred and Thousands AKA a crappy excuse for an ice cream topping– sorry not sorry) on top of the buttered bread. Cut the bread into triangles.

TA DA! There you have it, folks. The epitome of the Australian birthday. The indulgent dessert to triumph over all other confectionary delights. Fairy bread is a fundamental necessity at an Australian birthday party. Instead of baking a cake, Australian parents make fairy bread as a treat for their child! 

How was Fairy Bread

When my parents and I first looked at the fairy bread I had made, we thought “hm… maybe the flavors of this combination will blend together to make an unexpectedly scrumptious treat.”

We each grabbed a slice of bread and bit out huge chunks of bread, butter, and sprinkles. Turns out, fairy bread tastes exactly how you would expect. Close your eyes and eat a bite and you will very easily be able to guess that you’re consuming bread with butter and sprinkles. I’m not sure that I would ever choose to eat this dessert, but it definitely didn’t taste awful.

What Makes Fairy Bread So Special? 

If I had to wager a guess, I’d say that the draw of fairy bread is the nostalgia that accompanies it. I mean, a store-bought grocery store cake wasn’t the best dessert we’d ever tasted, but a birthday wasn’t the same without one. And now, eating a slice of Kroger cake to this day reminds me of childhood bliss.

I think this is the beauty of fairy bread, too. The dessert transports Australians back to the simplicity of childhood. It carries them back in time, to a period when the biggest joy in life was a piece of Wonder Bread covered in sprinkles.

Did you enjoy reading about the Australian birthday tradition of fairy bread? Then you should also check out the Angolan tradition of Funje, the Andorran tradition of Pa Amb Tomaquet, or the Antiguan tradition of Duncana.

Did you try making fairy bread? Don’t forget to comment below about your experience and share photos of your creation with the hashtag #theforeignfork on Instagram and Facebook!

Australian Fairy Bread

Fairy Bread is an Australian dessert treat made with bread, butter and sprinkles. It is served on birthdays and is a favorite among the children in the country!

Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 slices white bread
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • as many sprinkles as your heart desires

Instructions

  1. Spread the butter on each slice of bread.

  2. Pour the sprinkles over the butter, leaving a thick coat of sprinkles on the bread. 

  3. Cut the bread diagonally from corner to corner and then repeat with opposite corners so that bread is cut into four little triangles. Enjoy!

Lamingtons: The Power of Baking

Stack of lamingtons

Australians, the largest consumers of chocolate in the world, have created an epic dessert called Lamingtons. Vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate and then rolled in coconut? What’s not to love?!

Baking is Therapy

With as much as I love dessert and as much as I love to cook, I can assume you’ve figured out that I L-O-V-E to bake. Baking is a big form of comfort for me. When life is crazy and everything is going wrong, it’s comforting to know that if you mix juuuuust the right amount of flour with juuuuuuust the right amount of sugar, everything will turn out exactly how it’s supposed to.

Mixing together a big bowl of batter is the perfect therapy for me. I KNOW that just the right amount of baking powder will make my cake rise. I know that beating my eggs to stiff peaks will create the texture I’m looking for. And I know that cooking at the right temperature will affect the bake of my food. When everything is uncontrollable–  when jobs aren’t going right, and people get sick, and you’re worried about too much– baking is something that you can control. You can roll up your sleeves and get lost in the preciseness of your actions. And for that, I am grateful. 

LamingtonLamgintons: A Trouble-Maker

These lamingtons were a Foreign Fork trouble maker. I made them a few times… first I liked the cake but not the chocolate. Then, I liked the chocolate but not the cake. Finally, after combining the two, I can share this recipe proudly.

The one issue that I was unable to overcome was the coconut. Australians use dessicated, or finely ground, coconut to coat their lamingtons. Unfortunately, I struggled to find this ingredient in America. After a lot of searching, I resigned myself to having to settle for shredded coconut. Not nearly as pretty, but just as tasty.

Lamingtons are found all over Australia, and after tasting this recipe, I can see why. Have you ever tasted something that you couldn’t stop eating no matter how hard you try? You know you’re not hungry and you know you should stop, but it’s just too good and you can’t! That’s how these lamingtons are. Sponge cake with chocolate and coconut? That’s an addicting dessert if I’ve ever heard of one!

Like this recipe? Also check out my Afghan Semolina Sweetmeat and my Andorran torrijas.

Like this recipe? Comment below! If you post a picture on instagram, don’t forget to tag #theforeignfork!

Australian Lamingtons

Australians, the largest consumers of chocolate in the world, have created an epic dessert called Lamingtons. Vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate and then rolled in coconut? What's not to love?!

Course Dessert
Servings 25 lamingtons

Ingredients

Sponge Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted

Topping

  • 3 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 7 oz milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 oz dessicated coconut or shredded if you cant find dessicated

Instructions

Making the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour an 8x8 pan, lining the base of the pan with parchment paper.

  2. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer for about three minutes. 

  3. Sift the flour and the baking powder into the wet mixture and mix to combine. 

  4. Add the melted butter into the mixture a little at a time and stir to combine.

  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes. 

Make the Frosting

  1. Boil water in a pot on the stove. Place a glass bowl over the pot, large enough to sit on the rim of the pot without falling in. This is a double boiler!

  2. Add the butter and the chocolate into the glass bowl. Stir until the chocolate melts. 

  3. Add the powdered sugar. Add the milk. Mix until fully combined. The frosting should be thick but still able to pour. Add more milk if necessary. 

Assembling the Lamingtons

  1. Remove the cake from the pan. Using a large knife, cut the edges off of the cake so that it is a perfect square.

  2. Cut the cake into 20-25 pieces, depending on how large you want your lamingtons. 

  3. Empty the coconut into a shallow bowl. Dip each lamington in chocolate and then roll in the coconut. 

  4. Let the lamingtons sit on a wire rack to cool for about one hour before enjoying!