Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Tagliatelle Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

We were in Italy a couple of weeks ago – a couple of days in Venice followed by a few days in Florence. While we were in Florence we took an organised day trip to San Gimignano, Siena, Castellina and finally a vineyard. On the way to Siena we were offered the option of having lunch at a place they’d chosen; we declined, hoping to go and find somewhere nice ourselves. Unfortunately, when we arrived we discovered that we’d have to find somewhere, eat and get back to the coach’s lunch spot in just 40 minutes!

We raced, somewhat aimlessly, down the streets and stumbled upon Trattoria La Tellina. The place was empty which is never a great sign, but it was still a bit early for lunch and we didn’t really have any choice so we went in. I ordered spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli) while Rob went for an arrabiata pasta dish. Mine was really tasty and very different to anything I’ve come across in Italian restaurants in London, but I still got food envy because Rob’s arrabiata sauce was the best I’ve ever tasted – absolutely divine!

We decided to try and recreate my dish – the final result was nowhere near as oily as the original (you decide if that’s a good or a bad thing) and was a little too fiery, but it was lovely nonetheless!

Tagliatelle Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
Serves 2
Prep time: 30 seconds
Cooking time: 10 mins

150-200g tagliatelle (depending how hungry you are)
2 cloves garlic, sliced four-ways
3tbsp good extra virgin olive oil (we used some we’d picked up in Lucca, mmm!)
2 whole dried chillis
salt and pepper
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Bring a large pan with 2l of salty water to a rolling boil, then add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet. When there are 5 minutes remaining, put the olive oil and chillis into a small frying pan and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, to bring out the flavour of the chilli. Season, then add the garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes taking care to ensure that it doesn’t burn as this will affect the flavour of the dish.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it then stir in the sauce and serve onto warmed plates, garnishing with the parsley.

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Quorn Lasagne

Vegetarian Quorn Lasagne

Every week, especially in the colder months of the year, we try to cook a few dinners that will serve well as leftovers for lunch the next day. Lasagne is a perfect example of such a dish and even having to heat it up in the microwave can’t spoil the wonderful flavours that have only intensified overnight. The difficulty is making sure you actually have some left 😉

We occassionally have roasted vegetable lasagne (for which I’ll one day share with you a truly delightful recipe courtesy of my boss’ mum!), but usually go for a “meaty” version – beef mince for Rob and Quorn mince for me. I tend to just throw various things in a pan when I make my mince, but I wrote down today’s version so I could at least give some idea!

I’ve tried to give quantities, but I don’t actually measure any of it because it doesn’t really matter.

Quorn Lasagne
Serves 2 (plus leftover mince for freezing)
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 55 mins

For the mince:
1 medium onion, diced (my onion was about the size of a grapefruit (!) & I used half)
1 tbsp mild olive oil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 very heaped tbsp tomato purée
300g bag of quorn mince (don’t worry about defrosting, but bash it around a bit to break it up)
300g passata
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes (try and get good quality ones or they’ll be too watery)
white sugar
salt and pepper

For the white sauce:
20g butter
20g plain flour
250ml semi-skimmed milk
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

3 “non-cook” lasagne sheets
50g cheddar cheese, grated
15g grated Grana Padano (or Parmazano to make it properly veggie!)
Ovenproof dish (the internal dimensions of mine are: l:18cm w:12cm d:5cm)

  1. Heat both types of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion and stir to coat it in oil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and leave for a couple of minutes.
  2. Crush the garlic into the pan, recover and sweat the onions & garlic, stirring occassionally, for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft (if they start to stick, add a tablespoon of water).
  3. Stir in the oregano and thyme followed by the tomato purée. Leave for 30 seconds or so before stirring in the Quorn mince followed by the passata and the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C and make the white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan then take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour until smooth.
  6. Place the pan back on the heat for a few seconds, stirring continuously then remove from the heat again.
  7. Add the milk bit by bit, stirring continuously.
  8. Back on the heat, gradually bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continuously – it should end up satiny smooth.
  9. Reduce the heat as low as it’ll go and leave the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  10. Add the nutmeg and season to taste.
  11. Go back to the mince, stir in a pinch of sugar and season to taste.
  12. Spoon 1/3 of the mince evenly in the bottom of the dish and place a pasta sheet on top (snap it to fit and avoid overlaps). Pour in some of the white sauce and spread evenly. Repeat, then top with the cheddar cheese and finish off with the Grana Padano.
  13. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes – the mince should be bubbling and the cheese turning brown.
  14. Serve and enjoy. (You’ll notice I didn’t use all the mince, put the rest in a freezer bag and you’ll have a quick veggie bolognese to hand next time you can’t be bothered to cook!).
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Chicken arrabiata

We’re trying to use up things in the freezer at the moment and needed some way to use up a lone chicken breast. We reasoned that it would probably stretch furtherst in a pasta dish and decided upon making an arrabiata sauce to go with it.

A quick Google search tells me that our sauce wasn’t entirely authentic, but we just chose to make up a spicy tomato sauce and go with it!

Chicken Arrabiata
Serves 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins

1 chicken breast
160g pasta (we used conchiglie, but would have used penne if we’d had any!)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, minced (red’ll do too!)
1tbsp tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
salt & pepper
Grana Padano/Parmesan, to serve (optional)

1. Put the chicken breast in a pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to a slow boil and poach for 10-15 minutes or until cooked. When cooked, remove it from the pan and leave on a plate to rest.
2. Meanwhile, soften the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes before adding the crushed garlic and minced chilli. Cook for a further minute.
3. Add the herbs and then stir the tomato purée through. Leave it for 30 seconds or so before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season to taste and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the instructions.
5. When everything is ready, shred the chicken with your hands (or a couple of forks if it’s still too hot!), drain the pasta and then mix everything in together before serving with a sprinkling of Grana Padano/Parmesan.

This was the first time we’d poached chicken and it worked really well, cooking it through whilst keeping it soft and moist. The sauce had a pleasant warmth from the chilli (if you want more of a kick, you’ll want to add more) and was all in all a really nice, quick and easy meal.

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Sausage and tomato pasta

When we were deciding on dinners this week I was thinking of what we had in the freezer and remembered that there were some pork sausages, which gave me inspiration for tonight’s dinner. Once again it’s a simple dish, taking 25 minutes in total, and tastes delicious. Add more or less chilli depending on your personal preference.

Sausage and Tomato Pasta
Serves 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Three sausages
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red chilli, minced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato purée
150g pasta
basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper
grated Grana Padano, to serve (or parmesan if you prefer)

Start by dicing the sausages, then fry them in the olive oil for 5 minutes until they are browned. Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for a minute or so, before adding the tomato purée and tinned tomatoes. Season to taste and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain. Stir the sauce through the pasta, add the basil and serve with a sprinkling of cheese.

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tortellini, baby spinach and cherry tomato salad

We have a friend coming tomorrow to stay with us for a few days and the flat has been looking like a bit of a disaster recently. Rob was out this evening and I got home at about 7pm knowing that I had a good couple of hours of cleaning ahead of me. Two hours of tidying, vacuuming and scrubbing later and the last thing I wanted to do was cook a proper dinner!

Tortellini really does offer a remarkably quick and easy dinner option but, unlike the ready meals that may be an obvious choice, it also tastes fantastic and I’ve often chosen it even when I’ve all the time in the world!

Tonight’s dinner took no more than 5 minutes to prepare. While the kettle boiled, I chopped up some baby spinach and halved some cherry tomatoes. I then brought the water back to the boil in a pan and added a pack of spinach and ricotta tortellini (no matter what else I try, I always come back to spinach and ricotta, mmm!). A minute later, I drained the pasta and then drizzled it with olive oil. Half went into tupperware for tomorrow’s lunch and the other half was mixed up with the spinach and tomatoes. Once plated up, all it needed was a few grinds of pepper and it was ready to devour! Delicious!

I always used to make a tomato sauce to go with tortellini, but just using the olive oil really makes you appreciate the flavours of the filling so much more (plus it makes it that much quicker!).

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