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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One Pot Sausage, Mushroom and Mozzarella Pasta


One Pot Sausage, Mushroom and Mozzarella Pasta (2)

What could be better, on a weeknight after a long day at work, than a meal which essentially cooks itself? After some brief browning of sausage meat, all the effort this meal involves is throwing it (or placing gently, whichever suits) all in a pan, putting a lid on and returning 15 minutes later for a comforting, oozy pasta dish.

Today, the weather has been the sort that makes me crave pasta. Although it was a comparatively warm start, it was raining buckets and I arrived at work sodden after my miserable 25 minute walk. By the time I left work, the weather couldn’t have been more different (but not in a good way) – it was clear and bright but with an icy, biting wind. Brrr!

So this meal was just what was needed – easy, tasty and like a nice warm hug.

You could easily make this dish vegetarian by swapping the sausages for porcini mushrooms, and using veg stock rather than chicken stock. You should also play around with the type of pasta you use; I went for caserecce which hubby described as “short bits of spaghetti making out”. It sucked the juice up nicely, which was the main thing. Use whatever type you like – be creative – use a shape you’d never heard of before!

This will serve 6 and takes 30 minutes to make.

One Pot Sausage, Mushroom and Mozzarella Pasta (1)

One Pot Sausage Pasta Bake

1 tbsp olive oil

4 good quality sausages

1 onion

250g chestnut mushrooms

2 garlic cloves

1 small glass red wine

2 x 400g tins whole plum/cherry tomatoes

600ml chicken stock

400g dried pasta

20g grated parmesan

150g mozzarella

1 handful basil leaves

1. Remove the casings from the sausage meat and put the meat in a large casserole dish with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat until starting to brown, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat.

2. Add the chopped onion and sliced mushrooms, cook for a further 2 minutes then add the sliced garlic. Tip in the wine and allow to boil down for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes (and juice) and stock. Being to the boil, then add the pasta. Turn the heat down to low, put a lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is just cooked.

4. Turn the heat off, stir through the grated parmesan and torn basil leaves, then tear up the mozzarella and dot over the top of the dish. Put the lid back on for 3-4 minutes until the mozzarella has melted. Enjoy!

One Pot Sausage, Mushroom and Mozzarella Pasta (3)

Beetroot and Thyme Fusili


Beetroot and Thyme Fusili (1)

It’s been one of those days – long and busy. All I wanted for dinner tonight was something quick, comforting and carby.

Hubby is eating out tonight, so I thought I would treat myself and pick my favourite things and somehow combine them into a meal. So – beetroot, feta and pasta it was. I was quite worried about how this would turn out. Not so much the flavour – how could this combination not taste good – more the look. And as you can see, it is pink! I think there’s a kind of vibrant beauty to it though.

I was so pleased when I tasted this. It is lovely – there is sweetness from the beetroot, creaminess from the creme fraiche, saltiness from the feta and the wonderful aromatic thyme too. If you try one of my recipes, make it this one!

And don’t worry – hubby won’t miss out – I’ve made enough for lunch tomorrow!

I used pre-cooked beetroot in this, but if you aren’t in need of such instant gratification as I was, you could roast your own fresh beetroot before starting the recipe.

This will take 10 minutes and will serve 4.

Beetroot and Thyme Fusili (2)

Beetroot and Thyme Fusili

500g fresh fusili (or equivalent dried)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

250g pre-cooked beetroot

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

200ml creme fraiche

feta, to serve

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat then add the chopped onion. Sizzle for 2 minutes then add the chopped beetroot along with any juice from the beetroot. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the thyme and creme fraice.

3. Simmer for another 2 minutes, stirring often, then season. Drain your pasta and add to the saute pan along with 3 tbsps of the pasta water. Mix well.

4. To serve, top each bowl with a little crumbled feta and tuck in!

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (1)

Here we have a meal which is suspiciously similar in both method and look to last night’s offering (Vegetable Enchiladas); not in taste though! It also bears a significant resemblance to my Spinach, Tomato and Goats Cheese Cannelloni – however, I’ve gone for ricotta over goats cheese because I fancied the softer, more delicate taste tonight as opposed to tangy goats cheese.

I’ve made this for two reasons – 1. it snowed a bit and it was cold so I needed comfort food. The snow is gone now, as though it were never here, but I still want the cannelloni. 2. My husband was supposed to go and pick up a new car, but because of the aforementioned snow cancelled his collection, so I wanted to make something to cheer him up (unbeknown to me, the collection was later reinstated, so now we are having it for a third reason – to celebrate the arrival of the brand new car).

Anyway, back to the recipe – give it a go; it is desperately straightforward and the use of fresh lasagne sheets rather than dried cannelloni tubes also makes it surprisingly fast to make. What’s not to like?

This will serve 4, and takes 40 minutes to make.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (2)

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

200g spinach

1/2 tsp nutmeg

500g ricotta

12 fresh lasagne sheets

400g chopped tomatoes

1 handful cherry tomatoes

10g grated parmesan (or veggie alternative)

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Chop the onion and add to a frying/saute pan with the olive oil. Saute for 1-2 minutes, then gradually add the spinach until it is all completely wilted. Stir in the nutmeg and a little salt and pepper. Leave to cool for 3-4 minutes.

3. Break up the ricotta in a large bowl, and stir in the spinach. Take your fresh lasagne sheets one at a time, and lay a large spoonful of the ricotta mix along one end of the lasagne. Roll it up around the ricotta, then lay in a large oven proof dish. Repeat for the rest of the lasagne sheets.

4. Pour the chopped tomatoes evenly over the cannelloni (you probably won’t cover them completely, but that’s fine. Sprinkle over the halved cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan.

5. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the parmesan is golden.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (3)

Garlic Prawn Linguine


Garlic Prawn Linguine (3)

You’ll have to forgive me in advance – this recipe is extremely similar to my Garlic, Chilli and Prawn Tagliatelle. However, I’ve upped the garlic and ommitted the chilli – so these are some small differences, and if I’m honest, I prefer this version! No snogging for several days after you’ve eaten it though, unless your significant other has indulged in the same dish. Particularly if you serve with garlic bread.

As you can probably guess from that first paragraph, my advice would be not to give this recipe a go if you’re not a big fan of garlicky flavours. I love them, and the smell of this dish cooking just reminds me of an Italian restaurant near us – as you walk past, the smell makes my mouth water.

This is a perfect weeknight dish – it’s ready in 15 minutes – and you could easily add some extra healthiness by stirring some spinach in with the prawns, if you had some to hand. The garlic bread is naughty – but you could leave this out. We wanted pure indulgence – and we enjoyed every mouthful!

This will serve 2 (with leftovers for lunch) and takes 15 mins.

Garlic Prawn Linguine (1)

Garlic Prawn Linguine

For the pasta:

400g linguine

1 tbsp olive oil

200g raw king prawns

5 cloves garlic

1 small glass white wine

1 small handful parsley, chopped

For the garlic bread:

4 slices ciabatta

3 cloves garlic

40g margarine

40g grated parmesan

1. For the garlic bread, preheat the oven to the highest setting. Finely chop the garlic and mix with the margarine and parmesan in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the sliced ciabatta, then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and bubbling.

2. For the pasta, cook the linguine according to packet instructions in a large pan of boiling water. Drain, then return to the pan.

3. Meanwhile, slice the garlic. Heat the oil in a saute pan over a medium heat and add the garlic and prawns. Cook for 1 minute, then pour in the white wine. Allow to simmer until the prawns are completely pink.

4. Pour the prawn and wine mix over the linguine and add the chopped parsley, then mix well. Serve with the garlic bread and a little grated parmesan.

Garlic Prawn Linguine (2)

Bolognese Pasta Bake


We went out last night, and had one too many cocktails. We’re not so bad today that it’s a takeaway pizza night, but even so we are craving carbs and simplicity.

Pasta bake is the tonic we need; it’s comforting, familiar and has a delicious, cheesy topping which I can’t get enough of.

As I say, this is a very simple recipe and you probably have your own version. However, if you only ever use Bolognese sauce with spaghetti, think about mixing it up a bit; I promise you will enjoy this.

I like using mushrooms in my Bolognese; it compliments the deep, earthy taste and means you can get away with using less meat. In fact, thinking about it, it may be possible to make a Bolognese switching the meat for mushrooms – keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks, I’m going to try to find time to try this out!

This will serve 4, more if you have garlic bread on the side (we did, guilty). It’ll take an hour to make but only 20 minutes of actual work.

Bolognese Pasta Bake 1

Bolognese Pasta Bake

400g penne pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

500g beef mince

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 small glass red wine

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

2 sprigs rosemary

250g chestnut mushrooms

200g mozzarella

50g breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic and saute in a saucepan with the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the mince and allow to brown.

4. Pour in the red wine and allow it to reduce, then tip in the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, basil, oregano and sliced mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the pasta and mix well, then transfer to an oven proof dish. Cover with a layer of the mozzarella and breadcrumbs, and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes (the longer the better) until golden, bubbly and crispy.

Bolognese Pasta Bake

Leek and Chorizo Fusili


We’re having a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow and so this is an ’empty the fridge to make way for the booze’ recipe.

I’ve spent lots of the day in the kitchen preparing the food we’re having tomorrow night, so something quick and uncomplicated was a must. This recipe is so, so straightforward and you can throw in any meat or vegetable you have in your fridge.

I hope you all have a lovely New Year’s Eve!

Leek and Chorizo Fusili

250g fresh fusili

10g butter

25g chorizo

1 leek

200g half fat creme fraiche

150g frozen peas

1 handful fresh parsley

Cheese, to serve (parmesan or any other hard cheese would work)

1. Boil a pan of water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the chorizo and put in a large saute pan over a medium high heat. When it starts to crisp, add the butter.

3. Slice the leek and add this to the pan. When it starts to soften, stir in the creme fraiche and frozen peas. Turn down the heat and allow to cook gently until the peas are cooked.

4. Stir in the chopped parsley and cooked pasta. It’s as easy as that!

Sausage and Cranberry Spaghetti


This is one of the other half’s favourite meals, because it appeals to his sweet tooth and love of Christmas I think! The ingredients themselves are very festive – little cocktail sausages (not wrapped in bacon, unfortunately) and sweet dried cranberries do make you think of Christmas dinner.

I am sure that children would wolf this dish down, and perhaps if you stirred in some spinach you could up the health factor.

If you’re not a fan of sweet food this probably isn’t for you; although if you left out the quince paste and instead stirred in half a tin of anchovies with the onion, you could make a seriously savoury version which I think would be delicious too. If you did this, it would need some fresh chopped parsley stirred in to lift it.

This dish is ready in 30 minutes and will serve 4.

Sausage and Cranberry Spaghetti

30 raw cocktail sausages

25g butter

1 onion

150g dried cranberries

130g quince paste

400g dried spaghetti

Grated parmesan, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and cook the cocktail sausages for 20 minutes, until crisp and golden.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.

3. In a saute pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and add the chopped onion. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the cooked sausages and cranberries. Add the quince paste and 50ml water, stir and simmer until the quince paste has dissolved. Season with salt and pepper.

4. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and stir in the sauce. Serve topped with plenty of grated parmesan.

Chorizo, Tomato and Olive Pasta


Today, I found one of those packs of marinated green olives and manchego cheese in the reduced section of the shop. I decided to base my meal around it (because I couldn’t think what to make tonight!) and came up with the idea of a Spanish flavoured pasta dish.

The flavours are punchy and bright; just what you need on a miserable, cold, November day. It has the added benefit of being ready in 15 minutes, meaning it can warm you up almost as soon as you walk through the door.

You could also use a normal jar of green olives if you can’t find any of the marinated ones in the bargain bin of your local shop.

This will serve 4.

Chorizo, Tomato and Olive Pasta

400g fresh penne pasta

125g chorizo

220g cherry tomatoes

150g marinated green olives and manchego cheese

1 small glass red wine

Large handful chopped parsley

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water, then drain.

2. Dice the chorizo s finely as you can and cook in a large saute pan over a medium heat and cook until golden and crisp.

3. Prick a small hole in each of the cherry tomatoes with a knife and add to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes until they are starting to soften, then crush each one gently wih your wooden spoon.

4. Add the olives to the pan (leave the manchego cheese to one side for now) then tip in the red wine. Allow to boil down, then add 150ml water.

5. Stir in the cooked pasta, chopped parsley and manchego cheese. Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Pancetta and Rosemary Pennoni


It can be a struggle to think of new ways to cook things, and every year I end up making pumpkin soup when I buy the obligatory pumpkins around halloween.

This recipe is something a bit different, and it was really, unexpectedly delicious. Pumpkins can be a hassle to prepare, but it is worth it in the end for this meal. The sweetness of the pumpkin goes beautifully with the savoury pancetta and rosemary.

I use pennoni pasta (like penne but larger) which caught the little nuggets of pumpkin and pancetta really well, but large shell shaped pasta would work well too.

Pumpkin, Pancetta and Rosemary Pennoni

500g fresh pennoni pasta

150g cubed pancetta

The flesh of 1 small pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes

1 onion

1 small glass madeira

1 small sprig rosemary

150ml double cream

Goats cheese, to serve

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pennoni according to packet instructions. Drain and leave to one side.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, fry the pancetta cubes over a medium heat. When they are starting to brown, add the pumpkin and onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Tip in the madeira, boil down and then add the same amount again of water. Stir in the rosemary leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the double cream and bring back to a simmer. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper.

4. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir. To serve, crumble a little goats cheese over each dish.