Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

Chorizo and Vegetable Pasta Bake

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Chorizo  Veg Pasta Bake

Some might question the purpose of baking this. After all, you’ve made a sauce, cooked some pasta, sorted some veg, why not just stir it all together and eat? And yet, a quick blitz in a hot oven makes this all the more worthwhile. Everything seems to meld together, the flavours of the sauce, slightly charred vegetables, and salty, warming chorizo, and the textures change too, a little drier (in a good way), a little extra bite. More hearty, even. And if that isn’t enough to sell it, then bake it because how else will you get chunks of mozarella to melt into stringy little pockets of deliciousness throughout? Hmm?

Chorizo and Vegetable Pasta Bake (serves 4. Well. Probably wouldn’t leave 6 starving either.)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins good chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  • 1 aubergine, sliced lengthways into 1cm thick slices, then each slice cut into chunks
  • 100g chorizo, (or about half of a 225g chorizo sausage, which is the usual weight of the ones I buy), cut into 1cm ish chunks (cut 1cm thick coins from the sausage and halve them)
  • 350g dried Rigatoni, or other pasta of your choice 
  • 125g mozarella ball, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pan, add the onion and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until soft but not browned. Tip in the tinned tomatoes, stir in the basil, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, and season.

While the sauce is cooking, heat the other spoonful of oil (or less if you need it, you’re aiming for the thinnest film of oil you can manage) in a non stick frying pan, and add the aubergine and pepper chunks. Fry for 5 – 10 minutes, until cooked through, but trying to avoid stirring too much, to let them blacken and char a little, in places. Remove to a plate, and then tumble the chorizo pieces into the pan, frying for 3-4 minutes until they begin to release their oil and crispen a little.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in a large pan of boiling, salted water. Drain well, return to the pan, (or a large bowl, but I’m trying to save you some washing up), and pour in the chorizo straight from its pan, and then the peppers and aubergine. Finally, pour over the tomato sauce and stir everything well, so the sausage and vegetables are distributed through, and everything has a light coating of sauce.

Tip the whole lot into an ovenproof dish, and dot the mozarella chunks over the top. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is nicely melted. Serve with salad, or, and see previous ramblings on carb-overloading, some nice bread.

Categories: Mains, Recipe Tags: , , , ,

Pork and Parmesan Cannelloni

September 10, 2009 Leave a comment

One of my all time favourite meals is my home made lasagne, so it’s perhaps a little surprising I’d never made cannelloni. When I came across this in June’s Sainsbury’s Magazine, I thought it sounded great, and was sufficiently different from my usual lasagne so definitely worth a try. This uses pork, not my usual beef, and the richness is balanced a little by using creme fraiche instead of full-on bechamel, albeit laced with cheese. The ingredients list is quite long, and since this needs making in parts and then assembly, it’s quite time consuming, although not particularly difficult, but stick with it, the results are worth it. And I suspect you could make the meat filling and tomato sauce the day before, keep in the fridge, and do the assembly job the next day if you so wished. I’ve fiddled with the original topping slightly, mostly because I found there wasn’t enough of it, but otherwise this is fairly faithful to the original.

This is quite filling, and the serving suggestion is a green salad (what else?) on the side, but for comforting baked pasta dishes I tend to want more carbs than is sensible at one sitting, with lasagne that means chips, and here I was planning to make potato wedges, but I got some really nice, huge potatoes from the market, so everyone got a massive jacket potato, dripping with butter, instead.

Pork and Parmesan Cannelloni (serves 4)

For the meat filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 60g breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 250g pack fresh egg lasagne sheets (from the chiller, not the dried ones) (6 sheets in mine, btw)
  • 1 egg
  • 50g parmesan, grated

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped (I used the mini-chopper for the onion and red pepper, which does finely chop, but also gives you a bit of a mush – this is fine here)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 600ml passata
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

For the topping

  • 200ml creme fraiche
  • 125g mozarella, sliced
  • 50g parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

First, make the meat filling. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the mince, onion and garlic for about 10 minutes until the mince is browned and the onion soft. Add the tomato puree, breadcrumbs and oregano, and give everything a good mix. Season well. Leave to cool while you get on with the next bit.

If you need to cook your lasagne sheets, follow the pack instructions. Mine only had oven cooking instructions, but I soaked them in a bowl of boiling water for 5 minutes anyway. This made them much more pliable, especially helpful as I had frozen and re-thawed them, and they appeared to have dried a little. Anyhow, I’d recommend you soak them even if not frozen. Drain well, but handle them carefully, they’ll try and stick to each other, and may split easily.

Next, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and fry the onion, garlic and red pepper for about 5 minutes, until nice and soft. Pour over the passata, then add the oregano, sugar and vinegar, and stir well. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Next comes the assembly job.  Stir the egg and parmesan into the meat filling, and then divide the mixture into six portions. Place a portion at the short end of a lasagne sheet, by hand or by spoon, roll it up, and place it in a baking dish. The recommended size is about 20 x 30 cm, but basically you want it big enough to place in the six rolls with a gap around each. Repeat this with the other 5 lasagne sheets. Pour the tomato sauce over the whole lot.

Blob the creme fraiche over the top with a spoon, and then spread it out gently with a spatula, trying not to push it into the tomato sauce too much. Arrange the mozarella on top of this, and then sprinkle with the parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden and delicious looking.

Categories: Mains, Recipe Tags: , , ,

Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce

August 21, 2009 Leave a comment

This sauce is amazing! Quick, easy and at the same time rich and indulgent. Based on a recipe in May’s BBC Good Food Magazine, with a few minor tweaks. Their suggestion is to have this with gnocchi and spinach, although it would be equally great with pasta. This is also a good standby supper, as you’ll likely have most of what’s needed in the house, or at least I do, perhaps having to pick up a tub of mascarpone on my way home.

Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce (serves 2)

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 250g tub mascarpone (i.e. 125g, but by eye rather than by weighing)
  • Fresh basil and freshly shaved or grated Parmesan to serve

Finely chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a large-ish frying pan and fry the garlic for a minute or two until beginning to colour. Tip the tomatoes into the pan, and simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced a little.

Stir in the mascarpone, and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes until all incorporated. Stir into 400g cooked, drained pasta, or a 500g pack gnocchi, cooked as per packet instructions, perhaps with a 200g bag of baby spinach leaves tipped into the boiling water for the last minute of cooking, and drained well. Scatter over freshly torn basil leaves and freshly shaved or grated Parmesan, and eat immediately!

Creamy Red Pesto & Bacon Tagliatelle

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I used to be fairly unadventurous with pasta, more often than not serving it with a large quantity of a thick, red, tomato based sauce. This is still a store cupboard standby – garlic, chopped peppers and onions (from the freezer, sometimes, as although I generally have these in the house, they’re so essential there’s no harm in having a back up), good chopped tomatoes, a little basil or oregano, or, in lieu of tomatoes and herbs, the vegetables tarting-up a jar of shop-bought sauce. But, experimenting in the kitchen often leads to rewards, (and sometimes disaster, believe me, but that’s for another time) and a reward this certainly is.

There’s something incredibly comfort-food-esque about this – what’s not to like about carbs, creamy sauce and salty bacon? This is definitely one of those recipes to play around with, to either customise to your taste, or just to make it with what you have in the house. This would, I’m sure, work equally well with the usual green pesto – there’s just usually a jar of red pesto kicking around at my place. Likewise, tagliatelle is usually a specific purchase for me, perhaps with an idea in mind, whereas I always have linguine in, which I’m sure would be fine in this. You could even throw in a handful of frozen peas to add some colour and help you on your way to five a day!

Creamy Red Pesto & Bacon Tagliatelle (serves 2)

  • 100g smoked back bacon (about 3-4 rashers)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 50g sun dried tomatoes (I prefer the sort in oil, from a jar)
  • 150g tagliatelle
  • 2 tablespoons red pesto
  • 4 tablespoons creme fraiche

Chop the bacon into 1cm strips, removing some of the fat if you like. Heat a little oil in a pan, and fry the bacon pieces for 4-5 minutes, until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the sundried tomatoes into pieces – perhaps 4-6 pieces from each tomato. Add these, along with the pine nuts,  to the bacon in the pan, and fry for another minute or two.

At the same time, cook the tagliatelle in boiling, well-salted water as per the instructions on the packet.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Stir in the bacon/tomato/pine nut mixture, and then stir through the pesto and creme fraiche. Serve immediately.

Categories: Mains, Recipe Tags: , ,