Parma Ham and Tomato Tart

Serves 4; Cals per portion: 545

Ingredients: 225g (8oz) short-crust pastry; 30ml (2 tbsp) finely grated parmesan cheese; 175mg (6oz) Parma ham; 4 large plum tomatoes; 50g (2oz) pine nuts; 45m (3 tblsp) olive oil.

  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry thinly and sprinkle the Parmesan Cheese over the top. Roll over the pastry with a rolling pin to press the cheese into the pastry. Use the pastry to line a 23cm (9in) fluted flan tin then prick all over with a fork.
  • Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (or dried pulses). Bake blind at 200oC, 400oF, Gas 6 for 20 mins. Remove the lining and the beans and bake for a further 5-10 mins until the pastry case is crisp and golden. Leave to cool.
  • Fill the cooled pastry case with the strips of Parma ham, tomato wedges and pine nuts. Drizzle with 30ml (2tblsp) of the olive oil and place under a pre-heated moderate grill for 5-10 mins until the tomatoes begin to soften slightly.

Cheesy Ham Flan

Serves: 4; Prep: 20 mins: Cook: 30 min: Calories per portion: 618

This crisp pastry case with a rich and cheesy filling is perfect for a family lunch.

Ingredients: 8oz/225g short-crust pastry; 1 tblsp/15ml oil; 1 leek, washed and sliced; 1oz/25g butter; 1oz/25g plain flour; 1 tsp/5ml mustard; 3/4pt/450ml milk; salt and pepper; 4oz/125g cheddar cheese; 6oz/175g lean ham, chopped; 1 tbsp/15ml white breadcrumbs; 8in/20cm flan dish

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 4 / 350oF / 180oC. Grease the flan dish. Roll out the pastry, line the dish and trim pastry.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry the sliced leek for a few minutes, until it begins to soften.
  • Melt butter in a pan, stir in flour and mustard and cook for 1 minute. Add milk, beating thoroughly between each addition to remove lumps. Season to taste. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in 3oz/75g of the cheese. Mix the leeks and ham into the sauce and pour into flan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until pastry is golden. Serve with vegetables.

Courgette and Bacon Calzoni

Courgettes, basil and smoked streaky bacon make a really delicious filling for this Italian pasty known as calzone.

Serves: 4; Prep: 15 mins plus proving time; Cook: 15 mins; Cals per portion: 617

Ingredients: 30ml ( 2tbsp) olive oil; 2 cloves of garlic, crushed; 350g (12oz) courgettes, thinly sliced; 15ml (1 tbsp) white wine vinegar; 30ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh basil; 280g (10 ½ oz) wholemeal pizza base mix; 225g (8oz) streaky bacon, crisply grilled and roughly chopped; 175g (6oz) gruyere cheese, thinly sliced.

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the garlic and courgettes until tender. Add the white wine vinegar and chopped basil and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
2. Make up pizza dough according to the instructions. Divide into four and roll into circles measuring 15cm (6in) in diameter.
3. Preheat the oven to Mark 6 (200oC/400oF). Place the courgette mixture on half of each base. Top with 175g (6oz) bacon and gruyere cheese. Wet the edge of the base with water, fold over and seal together.
4. Place on a greased baking tray and cover with greased clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for 20-30 minutes to prove.
5. Cook for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Place the remaining bacon on top of each calzone. Return to the oven and cook for 5 minutes until piping hot and golden brown.

Avocado and Sun-Dried Tomato and Bacon

This dish of avocados with sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella slices, artichokes hearts and crisp bacon is a superb main course salad packed with flavours. The tomatoes can be bought dried, and need soaking in water to soften before use, or in oil in a jar ready for use. Supermarkets stock them.

Serves: 4; Prep time: 20 mins; Cook time: 5 mins

Approximate nutritional values per portion: 600 calories; 17g protein; 50g fat; 10g carbohydrate

Ingredients: 6oz (175g) back bacon, derided and chopped; 1 tblsp oil; 4oz (100g) sun-dried tomatoes in oil; 14oz (400g) canned artichokes hearts; 6oz (175g) mozzarella; 1 avocado; lemon juice

For the dressing: 4 tblsp olive oil; 1 tblsp white wine vinegar; 1 clove garlic, crushed; ½ tsp Dijon mustard; salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • Fry the bacon in a little oil until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper. Reserve. Cut sun-dried tomatoes into thick strips. Quarter artichoke hearts and cut mozzarella into thin slices. Place these in a bowl with the bacon and tomatoes.
  • Peel and coarsely chop the avocado. Drizzle with lemon juice, then add to bowl.
  • Shake all the dressing ingredients together in a screw-top jar then pour over contents of the bowl. Toss gently to avoid damaging the avocado. Serve immediately.

Other Italian recipes

Something for serving the salad.

Bacon and Courgette Risotto

Here’s a filling, one-pot meal that’s based on a traditional Italian recipe. For perfect tender rice cooked to a creamy consistency, you need to be patient and stir in the hot stock slowly. If you don’t rush this part, you won’t be disappointed.

Serves: 6; Cost: £3; Time to prepare: 15 mins; Time to cook: 25 mins; Cals per portion: 510

Ingredients: 1 large onion; 2 garlic cloves; 3 bacon chops; 85g (3oz) butter; 500g (1 lb 2oz) risotto rice; 1.7 litres (3pt) hot chicken or vegetable stock; 115g (4oz) mushrooms; 2 large courgettes, grated; 60ml (4 tbsp) fresh chopped chives; 45ml (3 tbsp) fresh chopped parsley; 75g (2 3/4oz) Parmesan cheese, grated; Extra Parmesan for shavings

  • Peel and chop onion, peel and crush garlic. Trim fat from the bacon chops and discard. Cut bacon into cubes. Heat half the butter in a large pan. Add onion, garlic and bacon and gently fry for 5 mins.
  • Tip in the rice and cook for a couple of mins, stirring so rice grains are coated. Add 300ml (½ pt) hot stock and the mushrooms. Stir frequently, to keep rice grains separate, until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Add a large ladleful of stock, then continue adding small amounts of stock, stirring and waiting until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. Repeat until all liquid is finished and the rice tender.
  • Turn off heat when risotto is creamy. Stir in courgettes, chives, parsley, remaining butter and grated Parmesan. Make parmesan shavings using a vegetable peeler. Sprinkle over and serve.

Bacon Bhajis

Serves 4 as starter or side dish

Ingredients:  2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped; 2 cloves crushed garlic; 170g plain flour; ½ pint of milk; 2 eggs; 8 rashers streaky bacon (smoked or otherwise) ½ tsp paprika; 2 green chillies, finely chopped; 1 tsp salt; cooking oil

  • Grill the bacon rashers until cooked but not crispy.  Chop into 2 cm pieces and set aside.  Put chopped onion, garlic, one tbsp flour and half a cup of milk into a blender and liquidise.
  • Make batter by whisking remaining flour and eggs in a bowl, adding milk in stages.  Add paprika, salt, chillies and onion mixture.  Finally, stir in cooked bacon pieces.
  • Heat oil in chip pan.  When hot enough for deep frying add one tbsp of mixture, turning frequently.  Allow to brown all over.  Remove, dry on kitchen towel and place in warm oven.  Repeat until mixture is finished.

Bacon and Apple Pie

A recipe by Gary Rhodes

This delicious savoury pie holds a combination of classic British flavours, the bacon going very well with the onions annd apple.  It makes a tasty and filling main course!  The flavours don’t just stop there.  I also add some freshly chopped sage to the onions, along with a drop or two of cider to the cooking stock.  For this recipe, I usually top the pie with puff pastry but shortcrust can also be used.

Serves:  4-6

Ingredients:  1 1/2 lb / 675g streaky bacon; 2 oz /50g butter; 3 onions, sliced; 1 dsp freshly chopped sage; 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced; Pepper; ½ pint (300ml) cider; ¼ pt (150ml) chicken stock; 8oz (225g) puff pastry; 1 egg, beaten

  • Cut bacon into 1 in (2.5cm) pieces.  Heat 1oz butter in a frying pan and fry onions until golden.  Mix in the sage.  In a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pie dish, layer the bacon, onions and apples.  Repeat until all these ingredients have been used up.  Season with a twist of pepper and pour over the cider and stock.  Dot the top with the remaining 1oz (25g) butter.
  •  Roll out pastry, then cut out narrow strips to put round the edge of the pie dish and a “lid”.  With beaten egg, brush the edge of the pie dish, the pastry strips and the edges of the pastry lid.  Press the pastry strips into position then sit the pastry lid on top.  Crimp the pastry edges together and trim off any excess.
  • Brush the pastry top with beaten egg and then refrigerate pie for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200oC / 400oF, gas mark 6.  Place pie in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

Gammon Steaks with Stilton Sauce

 Serves:  4;  Prep:  5 minutes;  Cook:  25 minutes;  Cals per portion:  607

A creamy, tangy sauce complements succulent gammon steaks

Ingredients:  1 oz /25g butter; 4 x 6oz / 175g gammon steaks; 2 red eating apples; 1 tbsp/15ml demerara sugar; 1 tbsp/15ml fresh sage; salt and black pepper; 1oz/25g butter; 1/2 oz/15g plain flour; 1/2pt/300ml dry cider; 4oz/125g stilton cheese, crumbled; 4 tbsp/60ml single cream; extra sage to garnish

  • Melt the butter and fry the steaks for 5 minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan, cover and keep warm. Slice the apples.  Add to the pan and fry for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with the sugar and chopped sage.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Return the gammon to the pan.  Season and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the flour.  Gradually add the cider and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the Stilton and stir until melted.  Then add the cream and heat without boiling.
  • Serve the steaks and sauce garnished with sage.

Spaghetti with Bacon and Pesto

How can a dish be healthy when it contains bacon, hard cheese and oil?  Easy!  It’s all about buying wisely and getting your proportions right.  This dish is healthy because it’s full of complex carbohydrates, fibre and mono-unsaturated oil.  Don’t always avoid oil – it’s good for you.

Serves: 4; Cals per portion:  520; Total fat port portion:  21g

Ingredients: Pesto:  4 cloves garlic, peeled; 25g (1oz) fresh, roughly chopped basil; 75g (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated; 4 medium tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped; 40ml (3 tbsp) olive oil.

Spaghetti and Sauce: 300g (11oz) dried spaghetti; Salt; 100g (3 1/2oz) broccoli broken into small florets; 50g (2oz) frozen petits pois; 5ml (1tsp) corn oil; 150g (5 1/2 oz) low-salt, extra-lean back bacon, de-rinded and cut into strips; 8 cherry tomatoes halved; fresh basil leaves to garnish

  • Make the pesto first by pounding all the ingredients together with a pestle and mortar until you have a thick paste.
  • Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of lightly salted, boiling water for 8-10 mins or until just tender.  Meanwhile put the brocolli and petits pois in a small quantity of water, and steam for 2-3 mins.  Drain and keep warm.
  • Brush the base of a non-stick frying pan with the corn oil and add the strips of bacon and the halved cherry tomatoes.  Slowly heat the frying pan and stir once or twice until the bacon is crisp and the tomatoes are cooked.
  • Drain the spaghetti and tip it into a serving bowl.  Pour the pesto over the top of the spaghetti and add the bacon and vegetables and stir.  Garnish with basil leaves and serve.