Category Archives: Recipes

‘Nearly Pesto’ Pasta

21st August 2013

The summer is flying by, and I’ve been meaning to post this for a while.  However, Italy, skiing, and bad internet connection have all provided enough of an (enjoyable) distraction that I haven’t gotten around to it.  

OK, no more excuses – here is a simple pasta recipe that I made last time I went home.  It’s like a tangy, lighter version of home made pesto. First stop – the greenhouse, for fresh basil. 12 The warm, tomato-ey smell of the greenhouse is one of my favourite things. 1 2 3 Basil in hand, I returned to the kitchen to prepare the rest of the ingredients. 13 For this pasta sauce, you’ll need:

  • Parmesan or other hard cheese – I used one I found in the fridge and can’t remember the name of – will update!
  • Pine nuts
  • Basil
  • Lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cream (if you like dairy)
  • Tomatoes, courgettes and so on can be used as a side salad if you fancy it – or you could mix them into the pasta.  Options!

(I’m sorry I haven’t included quantities – that’s because I didn’t really use them.  Just go for a ‘good handful’ of everything, and adjust to taste).

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Grind up the pine nuts with a pestle & mortar, and then throw in some more whole ones for a bit of diversity in the texture.  Add the parmesan to the nuts as well.

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Chop your beautiful fresh basil…

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And then grate the rind of a lemon and throw the whole lot in with the nuts and cheese.

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(My lemon is a bit pink because it got up close and personal with a pomegranate.  But no harm done.)

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A nice big slosh of olive oil and a squeeze of the lemon – and there you are.  The next picture isn’t that pretty but it’s what it looks like.  It tastes fab though.

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You can set that on one side or in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.  When you are, boil up some fresh pasta – don’t forget to add a bit of oil and a pinch of salt to the water.

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Put the cooked pasta into a serving dish and pour the sauce mixture on top of it, then toss it all together.

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You can add more basil and ground pepper on top to serve.  I also sloshed in a little bit of cream.

Everyone to the table!  

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Glass of wine?

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I think someone was a bit jealous…

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Summer Salads, Spanish Omelette

24th July 2013

I am always happy when I get to tick recipes off my very long ‘to make’ list.  

I was meant to be meeting N and K for drinks last week, but given that every restaurant and bar with outside space in London is full to bursting at the moment, we made a last minute decision to cook at home.

I decided on two summery salads and a Spanish omelette – a light colourful dinner that we could eat in the garden.  

The first salad is a simplified version of Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate.  The second is a recipe I found on BBC Food.  And the omelette is a Jamie Oliver classic.  Here’s how to make them…

Chop red and yellow tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, red onion – and chuck it all in a serving dish.

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Drizzle the mixture with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Finally, garnish with pomegranate seeds and oregano leaves.  (Hint – you can buy pomegranate seeds packaged separately from Waitrose.  It’s way easier and quicker than getting them from the fruit yourself!)

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Easy to do, but it looks beautiful.

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Next salad up!

Lightly toast some almonds in a pan – this will only take a few minutes.

While the almonds are toasting, lay out some mixed salad leaves – ideally spinach, watercress and rocket (the bitter flavour will contrast well).  

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Chop up some crumbly feta…

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The almonds should be ready by now, so take them off the heat.

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More pomegranate seeds go on this salad as well, so make sure you have enough. Shake the feta, seeds and almonds onto the green leaves.  

This one also gets a dash of olive oil, but add some sesame oil too (just a little).  Season, and squeeze half a lemon over everything before tossing it.

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Last but not least – the omelette.  I wanted to add a bit of body to the meal, and this is a good option – not too carb heavy, but still satisfying.  

Boil a few potatoes until cooked, and then cut them roughly into slices/chunks.  While you’re waiting for the potatoes to boil, beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a fork.  I used ten eggs and this was plenty for four people as an accompaniment to the salads.

Cook the potato pieces and a bit of chorizo and onion in a large frying pan until they’re golden.  Add some fresh rosemary after a few minutes.  

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When the rosemary is crisp, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

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Cook on the hob for another minute or so, and then pop the frying pan into a preheated oven (about 200ºC).  When the omelette is cooked through in the middle, it’s ready.

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Take everything outside and serve with white wine (and in our case, Summer Fruits squash as well – why not hmm?!).

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A plate full of goodness…

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And what else to finish?  Strawberries, of course.

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It was a lovely girly evening of food, gossip… and snapchat.  Everyone loves a bit of snapchat.

Here are the original recipes if you want to browse:

  • Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate recipe
  • Leafy salad with feta and pomegranate recipe – BBC Food
  • Jamie Oliver’s Potato and Chorizo omelette recipe

5:2 Day – Smoked Haddock, Spinach & Poached Egg

17th July 2013

On Monday I was feeling in need of nutrients.  I had a flick through ‘The Fast Diet Recipe Book’, and decided on Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg.

B vitamins, iron and protein.  All good.  Even if you don’t follow the 5:2 diet (500 calories or less on 2 days a week), I recommend this recipe book.  It has lots of good ideas for healthy meals and if you’re not restricting calorie intake you can just scale up the portion sizes.

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I’m relaxed about diets – I think that everybody needs to find their own way to be healthy.  I have found so far that 5:2 has made me more aware of what I eat, prevents me overeating in general, and results in me eating loads more vegetables (which can’t be bad).  And of course, with a little planning, you don’t have to cut out restaurant dinners or your favourite treats – like cupcakes!

J came over for dinner, so I was cooking two portions.  The doubled up recipe is as follows-

  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 150g skinless smoked haddock fillet
  • 480ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp half-fat crème fraÎche
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg

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The fish came as 240g, so I weighed my portion and served the extra to J.

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Wilt the spinach in a pan with a splash of salted water.  Season it with nutmeg and pepper to taste.

Poach the fish in the milk for about 10 minutes, and check it’s cooked through.

With poached eggs, I like to play it safe.  These poach pods are brilliant, and well worth buying to avoid faffing around with vinegar, swirling water or cling film.  You can buy them here (and get ready to feel smug next time you make Eggs Benedict).

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Crack the eggs into the pods, then pop them into a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes.  Remember to put the pan lid on.

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When everything is ready, serve the fish and spinach onto plates.

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Turn the poach pods inside out, and place an egg on top.

Garnish with the crème fraÎche and spring onion.  I sprinkled a little more nutmeg on as well.

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Each portion is only 211 calories.  Enough said really.