Sunday cooking

 

A Sunday afternoon spent cooking up a vegetarian storm!

That’s lunch and dinners sorted for the week.

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My top recipes of 2016

So, 2016 has been a good year for About The Taste. Thanks to everyone who has looked at my blog posts over the last year. Here are my most popular recipes from 2016. Enjoy!

Gnocchi, halloumi, rocket and roasted red pepper salad

Gnocchi and halloumi salad (2)

This is a colourful and tasty dish that cooks in one pan. Plus it only has five ingredients. What’s not to love?! Get the recipe here.

Easy tomato soup

Tomato soup (3)

This recipe is popular because people have been searching for ways to use up over-ripe tomatoes. That’s really encouraging! I love that these beautiful tomatoes aren’t being wasted, but are being put to good use in this easy soup recipe. Great news! Get the recipe here.

Chorizo carbonara

Chorizo courgetti carbonara (1)

Carbonara is such a favourite of mine. I have plenty of recipes for different variations, but this seems to be very popular. You can use the usual pasta in this, or you can use your Spiralizer to substitute in zucchini noodles to make it lighter. I prefer a combination. Get the recipe here.

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Use up broccoli stems – Chorizo pasta with broccoli stem and walnut pesto

Use up broccoli stems – Chorizo pasta with broccoli stem and walnut pesto

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Every time I chop up a head of broccoli, I put the stem in a bag in the freezer. I hate throwing them away, as it’s such a waste. The stems are almost as nutritious as the florets and they’re really tasty! You can slice them thinly in stir fries or curries, or alternatively you can make a twist on pesto with them!

It’s a great way to reduce food waste and a very quick and easy dinner. I used my stems straight from the freezer – what could be simpler?! You just need a food processor like this Cuisinart one.

Ingredients
– Chorizo, cut into slices and quartered (about 40g per person)
– Dried pasta (75g per person)
– About three heaped tablespoons of pesto per person

Pesto ingredients (makes approx 4 servings)
– The stems from 4 heads of broccoli
– 125g Parmesan cheese
– 40g walnuts
– 3 peeled garlic cloves
– olive oil File_002

Method
1. To make the pesto, roughly chop the broccoli stems. Place in a food processor with the walnuts, cheese (cut into chunks) and garlic cloves. Process until everything in finely chopped.
2. Add olive oil while the machine is still running – continue until the mixture begins to bind together. Season to taste.
3. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, and fry the chorizo for about 4 minutes in a large frying pan. Add the pesto to the chorizo’s pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until the garlic is fragrant rather than raw.
4. Toss the pasta with the chorizo and pesto, then serve with Parmesan shavings and black pepper.
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Broccoli walnut pesto (2)

Saffron prawns – creamy mascarpone pasta with prawns in a saffron sauce

Saffron prawns – creamy mascarpone pasta with prawns in a saffron sauce

When we lived in Spain, I met the most amazing friend. Well, actually I met lots of amazing people, but this recipe post is dedicated to one person in particular. This person was always kind, always warm and always supportive. She is one of the most thoughtful and generous people I have ever met, but also one of the most fun people. She reminded me of the importance of enjoying life and of caring about people. She looked after me when I was down, was a constant cheerleader for me and even threw me a surprise birthday party with cupcake decorating.

I miss her.

A lot of our friendship and many of my favourite memories involved eating. Lots of tapas, obviously but plenty of pizzas, cakes, barbecues, curries and the occasional salad. We have had fancy meals in smart restaurants, as well as a weekly challenge to find a new cheap but delicious restaurant. We have compared the best gambas pil pil all over the Costa del Sol. I loved going to eat at hers because the food and craic were always excellent (and because she so often made food with halloumi in it). We chatted and laughed over many delicious meals and also many glasses of cava.

Once when I invited her over for a meal, she arrived with wine (of course) but also a gift of dried chilis and a packet of saffron. Not many people understand how much a gift like that excites me. She knew me well. I remember being so thrilled with my new culinary treats. The dried chilis hung in my kitchen in Spain and made me smile every time I went to the fridge… They also made my mouth burn whenever I ate them but goodness me, they were good! The saffron came with me to Malaysia and still makes me smile whenever I use it.

So this recipe is dedicated to that wonderful friend, who knows me so well and brings even more joy to my cooking. This is my little homage to you, with the saffron you brought me and the prawns from our beloved gambas pil pil.

Thank you. xxx

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Ingredients (serves 2)
– 200g raw prawns, peeled and deveined
– 200g dried spaghetti/linguine/tagliatelle
– 1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
– 1 pinch of saffron
– 100g mascarpone

Method
1. Heat a little butter or oil in a pan and cook the chopped onions and garlic until softened. Meanwhile, cook the pasta to the instructions on the packet.
2. Add the saffron to the onions and garlic and stir together, then add the mascarpone and stir until it is all combined.
3. Add the prawns to the sauce and allow to cook through. When the prawns have turned pink and firm, stir the cooked pasta in and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
4. Serve right away with a side salad – rocket dressed with Parmesan and balsamic works really well.

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Saffron prawns 2.jpg

Cherry tomato, mascarpone and rocket pasta – meatfree midweek meal

Cherry tomato, mascarpone and rocket pasta – meatfree midweek meal

Tomato rocket and mascarpone pasta (2)

This meal is a great way to give yourself to a little midweek luxury! The juicy cherry tomatoes, creamy mascarpone and peppery rocket feel taste lavish and decadent, but the whole thing takes less than 20 minutes to cook and most of the ingredients are store cupboard staples!

So if you deserve a treat on a weekday evening, throw this delicious pasta dish together, enjoy it… and have enjoy time left over to put your feet up!

*NB – I keep writing cheery tomatoes instead of cherry. But then, tiny tomatoes do cheer me up – maybe it’s apt!

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
– 300 grams dried spaghetti
– 1 medium sized white/yellow onion, peeled and chopped
– 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
– 330 gram tin of cherry tomatoes
– 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and rosemary
– 1 tablespoon of Worchestershire sauce
– 250 gram mascarpone cheese
– 70 grams rocket (washed)Tomato rocket and mascarpone pasta (2)

Method
1. Boil water in a saucepan and cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.
2. While the spaghetti cooks, prepare the sauce. Heat oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes, until both are softened.
3. Add the tinned cherry tomatoes. Worchestershire sauce and dried herbs to the garlic and onions. Simmer for about 5 minutes while the sauce thickens then taste.
*** Tasting here is really important. Different brands of tinned tomatoes taste very different. Some can be extremely acidic. If this is the case, add a little sugar or a squeeze of tomato ketchup.
4. Drain the pasta and stir into the tomato sauce. Add the mascarpone and combine (the mascarpone will take a few minutes to melt into the sauce).
5. Season to taste with lots of freshly cracked black pepper and a little salt. Stir in the rocket and serve immediately.

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Tomato rocket and mascarpone pasta (2)

Skinny chicken Bolognese with zoodles

Skinny chicken Bolognese with zoodles

A few years ago, I travelled to Bologna and had the very best Bolognese I’ve ever tasted. It was in a tiny little backstreet restaurant – thick, rich ragu with tagliatelle (not spaghetti – the traditional way is with wider pasta noodles because they take on more of the sauce). It was just amazing and one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I went back the next night and ordered the exact same thing!

It’s a pretty perfect food memory and I’m not sure that I could recreate the recipe. To be honest, I probably don’t want to think about the amount of butter, salt, red meat etc that went into making that dish! So I decided I’d go in a different direction. I’d make a Bolognese that would still be delicious but would be healthier.

This recipe uses chicken mince instead of beef and I’ve replaced the pasta with spiralized zucchini. That makes it lighter, much lower in calories and gluten free. Spiralizing is a super easy way to reduce the gluten and calories in your meal, but still feel full. You can buy the spiralizer I use by following this link – I really recommend it.

In addition to the “zoodles” I’ve included lots of vegetables in the ragu sauce, so this can provide up to 4 portions of fruit and veg per serving! If you were wanting to be extra healthy, you could skip the Parmesan cheese but really, is life worth living without cheese?

I think this recipe is a great way to let you enjoy a family favourite but in a lighter way. I hope you like it!Skinny chicken bolognese (2)

Ingredients (serves 4)
– 400 g chicken mince
– 2 carrots
– 1 white onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 100 g cherry tomatoes
– 2 medium zucchinis
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 500 ml passata
– 100 ml chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and rosemary

Black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Skinny chicken bolognese (1)Method
1. Prepare the vegetables. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Peel and dice the carrots and halve the cherry tomatoes. Dice a quarter of one of the zucchinis, then spiralize the remaining zucchini on the fine noodle setting.
2. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions for about two minutes, then add the garlic and stir together until they begin to soften.
3. Add the diced carrot, tomatoes and zucchini with the Worchestershire sauce. Stir together then cover and leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the chicken mince and cook until the meat is white and firm. Pour over the passata, stock and herbs and combine well.
5. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on. Stir well, then cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and reduced. Season to taste.
6. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, heat a little oil in a large frying pan (or I used roasted garlic butter for extra flavour). Cook the zucchini noodles in the frying pan until slightly softened -I like mine still with a bit of bite to them. Drain and pat dry with a little kitchen paper, or your sauce will turn watery.
7. Serve the Bolognese sauce with the cooked zoodles and top with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

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Butternut squash, bacon, sage and walnut cannelloni

Butternut squash, bacon, sage and walnut cannelloni

Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (11)

This recipe uses paccheri, which are wide pasta tubes. You can find them in lots of delis, or they’re easily available online. They are great for filling with all kinds of delicious sauces, and lend themselves beautifully to making a honeycomb cannelloni. Just arrange them close together in a circular casserole dish or Dutch oven and spoon or pipe your filling in.
Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (1)

 

This recipe was made extra delicious by a work colleague grows lots of her own herbs and brought me some gorgeous fresh sage this week. Thank you, Jackie!

Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (10)Ingredients (serves 2)
– 500g butternut squash, cut into small chunks
– 6 cloves garlic
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– one onion, finely chopped
– 3 rashers bacon
– 12 sage leaves
– 150ml single cream
– 50g walnuts, chopped
– 250g mascarpone
– 150ml milk
– half a nutmeg, grated
– 50g Parmesan
– 250g paccheri pasta tubes (or cannelloni tubes)

Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (11) Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (10)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Take an ovenproof dish and mix together the squash, 4 of the garlic cloves (unpeeled) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook for 25 minutes until the squash is soft.
2. Meanwhile, heat the other tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Chop the remaining two garlic cloves, bacon rashers and 8 of the sage Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (2)leaves. Cook gently in the frying pan with the onions until softened. Mix with most of the walnuts (leave some for garnishing) and leave to one side.
3. Whisk the mascarpone, milk and nutmeg with most of the Parmesan (again, leave a little for sprinkling on top of the dish). Season and stir together until smooth. Spread half of it over the base of an ovenproof dish.
4. Cook the paccheri tubes in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. (If you are using cannelloni you will need to cut them in half at this stage so that they are shorter). Arrange them in the ovenproof dish, standing straight up to create a honeycomb effect.
Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (4)

Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (3)5. Once the squash is cooked, take it out of the oven. (Leave the oven on!) Squeeze the softened garlic out of the skins, and mash the garlic and squash together. Add the onion mixture and the cream. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Spoon the squash mixture into a piping bag. I usually just use a plastic sandwich bag. Snip a small corner off, and pipe the mixture into the tubes. Use a spoon to squash the mixture down.

Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (5)
7. Cover with the remaining mascarpone sauce and Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (7)sprinkle with the remaining sage leaves (chopped into thirds), Parmesan and walnuts. Bake for 30 minutes until the pasta is softened.
8. Serve with a green salad.

Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (13)

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Sage, squash, bacon and walnut cannelloni (12)