Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta with Courgette Sauce

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We have an abundance of courgettes in the greenhouse at the moment (look, LOOK!). And the novIMG_6877elty of growing and eating our own food hasn’t yet worn off. Rather than hiding our carefully nurtured and hand reared courgettes in something like cake or a bake like I might do in a few weeks when, frankly, I’ve had enough of them, I served them centre stage in this oh-so-quick but oh-so-good dish from Antonio Carluccio. I skipped on the spinach balls, too much faff for a lazy hot summer Sunday…

For three portions you need

  • 300g pasta
  • 3 courgettes, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 45g parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Begin by cooking the pasta. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the garlic and chilli. You do not want it to colour at all. After 2 or so mins add the courgette and gently heat through. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water.

Add the water to the sauce along with the cheese. Mix thoroughly then drench the pasta with the sauce. Eat and marvel at how easy it was to prepare and how delicious it tastes.

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Courgettes and Onions with Quinoa (v)

I have a large collection of cookery books. Some might argue too many. And often I admire them in my living room and then head to the kitchen to create something myself. But I am on a mission to cut my shopping bill in half, and to use up everything we buy along with getting out of the food rut we are currently in. My recipe book of choice at the moment is therefore River Cottage Veg Everyday as we are working our way through our weekly veg box and I am already bored with some of the contents (namely courgettes!!).

This recipe is very easy to do and tastes delicious hot, warm or cold. It makes a lovely light lunch on its own, or a yummy side dish. If you’re not vegan, add some feta to it for a salty tang. It’d also be delicious served up alongside a lamb cutlet or similar.

For two people you need
2 medium courgettes, sliced on the diagonal in 5mm thick slices
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of thyme leaves (not the stalks!)
juice 1/2 lemon
100g quinoa
25g pine nuts
salt and pepper
large handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Begin by sauteeing the thyme leaves, onions and courgettes in a pan with the oil. Keep the heat medium so that after 20 minutes or so the onions and courgettes are nicely golden. Add the garlic at this stage and cook for another 2-3 mins.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa in 200ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 8 mins. Turn off the heat and leave to steam until all the water is absorbed (about another 10 mins).

Toast the pine nuts until golden.

Toss everything together in a large bowl, season to taste and then eat hot, warm or cold. Nom nom nom.

Rice and Peas (v)

This is proper Indian kichiri, with none of the Anglo-Indian trimmings. Just rice and peas and spices. It’s a fab side dish to any curry and the pulses in boost the protein content making it a good whole meal in itself.

For 6 portions you need
1/2 cup moong dhal, rinsed clean and soaked in cold water for 4 hours
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed clean and soaked for an hour in cold water
3 tbsp butter or oil
2 indian bay leaves
2 cloves
1 tsp whole coriander
1 tsp whole cumin
3 cardamon pods, crushed to release the seeds
1″ piece of cinnamon bark
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the spices for 2-3 mins until the aromas are released. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until browned and crispy. Add the drained rice and peas and stir fry to coat in the oil and spices.

Add 2 and 2/3 cups of water and bring to the boil. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 20-25 mins until the rice is light and fluffy and the peas are cooked.

Mixed Vegetable Makhanawala (v)

I am slowly working my way through Rick Stein’s India, a very fine book on curries and Indian food. This recipe caught my eye as I was meal planning over the weekend, and Abel and Cole obliged by providing most of the ingredients for it in their weekly box this week. The curry is delicious, rich and creamy but not heavy. Spiced and fragrant with a little kick of heat but not searingly hot. It might look complicated but it’s not, it was very easy to make and was definitely worth the effort.

For 4-6 portions you need
800g mixed vegetables – I used potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and french beans
50g butter or oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 large garlic cloves, finely minced
5cm stick of ginger, finely grated
400g fresh tomatoes pulverised to make passata (don’t use tinned or a jar, you want the lightness of fresh tomatoes)
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, garam masala and tumeric
1 tsp desiccated coconut
1.5 tsp salt
25g cashew nuts
1/2 tsp sugar
75ml yogurt/soya yogurt
4 tbsp double cream/soya cream (or coconut cream)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves to finish

Begin by boiling the carrots and potatoes until just cooked. Drain and leave to one side.

Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Add the spices, salt, coconut and 100ml of water and cook for a further 10 mins.

In a mini food processor blitz the cashew nuts with a little water until smooth. Add this to the pan along with all the vegetables apart from the potatoes. Add another 100ml of water and simmer for 10 minutes until the veggies are cooked. Add the yogurt, cream and potatoes and heat through for 2-3 mins. Serve garnished with the coriander. It’s truly delicious.

Goldilocks Tarka Dhal (v)

So called because I have made it three times… The first time we used scotch bonnet chillies and it was too cold. The second time I used thai chillies in quantities as per the recipe and it was too hot. The third time I used Indian chillies and it was juuuuuuust riiiiiiiight. You do need to soak the chana dhal for a good couple of hours beforehand or it will take ages to cook. This recipe is from the very fine Rick Stein’s India, a fabulous book about Indian food!

For 4-6 portions you need
For the dhal
200g chana dhal, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 1-2 hours
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, chopped
2 green chillies, left whole and slit, seeds left in
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric

For the tarka
1 onion, thinly sliced
large knob of butter/vegan spread
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
Small handful of fresh curry leaves
Fresh coriander leave to serve

Place the soaked chana dhal in a pan with the rest of the dhal ingredients. Cover with water to about 2cms above the level of the chana. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour until the chana is cooked. Mash a little to break up some of the dhal but leave some texture in.

For the tarka heat the oil and butter/spread until hot. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida and cook until the seeds pop. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until brown and crispy, but take care not to burn it!

Pour the tarka into the dhal and serve with bread or rice or whatever you fancy.

Quick Tomato and Mozzarella Brushchetta

This was a simple, quick and tasty Sunday lunch thrown together to use up some leftovers and lagging ingredients.

For two portions you need
2 thick slices of bread
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Fresh tomatoes
Basil
Red onions
Mozzarella cheese

Begin by placing the bread on a baking sheet and drizzling with a little olive oil. Bake in a hot oven for about 5 mins. Remove, and rub with the garlic clove. Place back in the oven for a further 5 mins until lightly golden brown.

Meanwhile slice the tomatoes and onions and place in a shallow bowl. Drizzle over about 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle over some chopped fresh basil.

Once the bread is toasted, slice the cheese and place on the bread. Top with the tomatoes and serve. Summer on a plate!

Christmas Soup

So called as it’s a taste of Christmas in a bowl 🙂 A very quick and easy dish to throw together in seconds but tastes like you’ve spent ages making it!

For one hungry person you need
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped plus the leaves of some, finely chopped for decoration
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp veggie stilton
1 tsp Gourmet Garden crushed garlic
400ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil

Begin by sauteeing the celery, carrots and onion in a pan with the oil for 8-10 mins until tender. Add everything else, apart from the celery leaves and stilton, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins until the veggies are all cooked then add the cheese and blitz until the soup is lovely and smooth. Reheat, season and serve decorated with the celery leaves. Perfect December fare.

Vegetable and Bean Cheesy Gratin

OK OK so it’s another variation on an old favourite but it tastes goooooooood!

For 4-6 servings you need
Leftover cooked veggies (we’ve got cabbage, broccoli and carrots)
1 tin pulses – black eyed beans here tonight
1 quantity thin cheese sauce (30g butter, 30g flour, 500ml soya milk, 1 cup grated cheddar)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp grated parmesan

Layer the veggies and beans in a gratin dish. Make up the sauce and pour over. Top with breadcrumbs and parmesan and then bake in a hot oven for 25 mins till bubbling, crispy and browned on top. Scoff with leftover roast potatoes and cold quorn roast. I love leftovers!

Pasta Mozzarella Tomatoey Thing

I am sure there is a better name for this, but this is the name it has had in our house for years! It’s a simple tomato and garlic sauce, which pasta is added to and then it’s topped with fresh mozzarella and baked in the oven till it’s crispy and crunchy on top. Lovely.

For 2 people you need:
200g pasta, fusilli or rigatoni is best
1 tin chopped toms
pinch sugar
salt and pepper
fresh basil, roughly shredded
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125g mozzarella, diced
2 tbsp olive oil

Begin by putting the pasta on to cook. Meanwhile put the toms into a large, flat based pan and heat with the garlic and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. When the pasta is cooked drain and add to the sauce. Stir through the basil then top with the mozz and maybe some fresh grated parmesan if you want. Bake in a hot oven for about 15-20 mins till the cheese has melted and the top layer of pasta has gone crispy. Serve with garlic bread and salad.

Steamed eggs with rice noodles and vegetables

This was my lunch today (Lex had his lunchbox as normal!).

For the eggs you need (per person):
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 mushrooms, sliced
handful chopped corriander
glug soya sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
ground pepper
1/2 onion, finely diced

Mix together and pour everything into a small heatproof bowl. Place in a steamer and steam for about 20 mins till cooked.

For the noodles and vegetables:
Soak 1 bundle of rice noodles per person in boiling water for about 5 mins.

Meanwhile stirfry some veggies (I used courgettes, onion, chinese leaf and sugar snap peas). Add some mirin and soya sauce to the pan to taste. Add the noodles once rehydrated and warm through. Serve with the eggs on the side.