Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne


Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (2)

Leeks are one of my favourite vegetables. I love their fresh, slightly fragrant flavour. At this time of the year, in the UK as we approach Spring, they will start to go out of season soon. So, along with my Anglesey Eggs last night, I wanted to produde a few recipes which would celebrate this wonderful, underrated vegetable which somehow manages to cheer up the winter months.

Shortly, as Spring arrives, we’ll start getting lots of new exciting vegetables. But in the meantime, why not make the most of what we have.

This is a moreish, creamy pasta dish which I’m sure you’ll love. It’s completely vegetarian, ready in 20 minutes and warming on a cold, biting day (it’s supposed to warm up by Saturday apparently, but for now the Winter seems to be clinging on…).

This will serve 5-6.

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (3)

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne

500g fresh penne (or dried equivalent)

10g butter

1 onion

3 medium leeks

1 fennel bulb

200g button mushrooms

200ml half fat creme fraiche

1 tsp dried oregano

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water until al dente. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, slice the onion, leeks and fennel. Add to a large saute pan with the butter and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Halve the mushrooms and add these – cook for a further 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the creme fraiche and 200ml water. Add the oregano, bring to a simmer then season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix the sauce with the pasta and leave to sit for 2 minutes. Enjoy!

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (1)

Find this recipe on the Pasta, Please! link up hosted by Family-Friends-Food and Tinned Tomatoes!

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Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake


Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake (2)

I haven’t had gnocchi for what feels like years. It’s probably only a matter of weeks, but when you’ve got a gnocchi addiction it can really mess up your sense of time. So, I had to remedy this today and made this simple yet delicious gnocchi bake.

I adore tenderstem brocolli and was delighted when I found a pack on offer (I know, I’m really sad). Although normal brocolli is great too, tenderstem is perfect for a week night meal because it cooks so quickly. You can throw it into any dish (within reason) without needing to pre-cook it.

Mushrooms and bacon are classic pairings for brocolli, so they go wonderfully together in this dish. The deep, earthy flavours compliment the gnocchi beautifully. I topped my bake with a little sprinkling of Cheshire cheese – this is a hard, mild, crumbly cheese (if you can’t get Cheshire cheese then any cheese which fits this description will do the job) which just adds another level of taste, plus if a dish doesn’t have cheese it’s not worth having!

Putting the bake under the grill for a few minutes adds a lovely additional extra texture. You have to give this one a go!

This will serve 4 and takes 30 minutes.

Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake (3)

Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake

200g smoked bacon lardons

300g chestnut mushrooms

200g tenderstem brocolli

1 small glass white wine

200g half fat creme fraiche

500g gnocchi

50g cheshire cheese

1. Preheat your grill to max.

2. Brown the lardons in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and chopped brocolli – cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring now and again, until the mushrooms have reduced in size a little.

3. Add the wine – let it bubble down a little, then add the creme fraiche, gnocchi and 100ml water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the gnocchi is squidgy to the touch.

4. Season with salt and pepper, pour into an oven proof dish and evenly crumble over the Cheshire cheese. Cook under the grill until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake (1)

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake


Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake (2)

Ever fancy comfort food, but not heavy carbs? Pasta is always my go-to when I want a warm, filling meal at the end of a long, cold day, but I decided to try this – a non-carb version of a macaroni cheese, to see if it could really be just as comforting.

It was!

The mixture of a rich cheese sauce with salty pancetta, earthy mushrooms and soft cauliflower really worked. You could easily make it veggie by ommitting the pancetta and swapping the parmesan, but I loved it like this. If you did want to leave the pancetta out, I’d advise using a couple of porcini mushrooms too to add the depth of flavour.

Cauliflower, for some reason, has become really popular recently as a carb replacement (e.g. cauliflower rice) and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon, but really, in a meal like this, I can see why!

This took just less than an hour to cook, and will serve 3-4 with a side salad.

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake (1)

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake

1 cauliflower

1 onion

200g cubed pancetta

200g button mushrooms

20g butter

20g flour

1 pint semi-skimmed milk

150g cheddar cheese, grated

20g parmesan, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Chop the cauliflower into florets and add to a pan of salted, boiling water. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until soft, then drain and leave to one side.

3. Put a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the pancetta and sizzle until starting to crisp, then add the chopped onion and halved mushrooms. Cook for around 5 minutes, then take off the heat.

4. In another saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat then stir in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and gradually whisk in all of the milk. Put back on the heat and cook, whisking all the time, until it thickens. Remove from the heat again, stir in the grated cheddar and season with salt and pepper.

5. Take an oven proof dish and pile in the cauliflower. Drain any liquid from the pancetta and mushroom mix, then add the mixture to the dish. Pour over the cheese sauce, sprinkle over the parmesan and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden.