Penne Baked with Chard

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Penne baked with chardComfort Food – Italian Style

Serves : 4  –  Prep time : 10 mins, plus standing time  –  Cook time : 50 mins  –  Cals per serving : 1099  – Fat : 48.4g

Ingredients:  1.5l (48 fl oz) milk; 1 bay leaf; 400g (13oz) penne; Olive oil; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 8-10 leaves chopped chard or spinach; 60g (2oz) butter; 4 tblsp plain flour; 250g (8oz) grated cheddar; 50g (1 ¾oz) grated Parmesan; Salt and freshly ground black pepper; 60g (2oz) fresh breadcrumbs

  1. Heat the oven to 190oC (gas mark 5).  Place the milk and bay leaf in a large saucepan over a low heat and bring to just under the boil.  Remove and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse.  Discard the bay leaf.
  2. Cook the penne in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until it is al dente (check the cooking time on the packet).  Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.
  3. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add the garlic and chopped chard and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chard or spinach has reduced in size and is soft. Squeeze out any moisture.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sprinkle on the flour, stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 1-2 minutes until the flour has browned slightly.  Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly until there are no lumps.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Add the cheddar and half the Parmesan.  Pour the white sauce over the pasta.  Add the chard or spinach and stir until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a large, shallow, ovenproof dish and scatter with the remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until heated through and the topping is golden.
Tip: Chop 4 rashers of streaky bacon, mix with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top before baking for a finishing touch.

Tortellini in brodo (Tortellini cooked in broth)

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Torellini in brodoComfort Food – Italian Style

Serves : 4  –  Prep time : 5 mins  – Cook time : 5 mins  –  Cals per serving : 287  –  Fat : 11g

Ingredients:  1.5l (48 fl oz) chicken stock (preferably home-made); 500g (1 lb) ready-made fresh tortellini; Parmesan, grated; 2 tblsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan.  Add the tortellini and cook for 3-4 minutes (check pack instructions for timing): the tortellini should float to the top of the pot when ready.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, scoop equal portions of tortellini into 4 large soup or pasta bowls.  Ladle the hot broth on top of the tortellini and top with grated Parmesan and parsley.

Macaroni Cheese

A real crowd pleaser on a cold day, one of the best things things about this dish is that it’s loved by young and old alike. Really easy to eat, it makes an ideal choice for a family lunch, especially if you’re having a casual fork buffet.

Serves: 4; Prep: 10 mins; Cook: 30 mins; Cost: £1.54; Cals per portion: 620

Ingredients: 300g/11oz macaroni; 40g/1 1/2oz butter; 40g/1 1/2oz flour; 600ml/1 pint creamy milk; 150g/5oz strong cheddar, grated

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 6/200oC/400oF. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for 10 mins and drain. Grease an ovenproof dish generously with some butter.
  • Now make white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove it from the heat and stir in the flour – keep stirring until the mixture is completely smooth. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for a further 1-2 mins.
  • Gradually whisk in the pint of milk and cook the sauce, stirring all the time, until it has boiled. Stir the macaroni into the sauce with half of the grated cheddar, tip into the greased ovenproof dish and then sprinkle with the remaining cheddar. Bake for 15-20 mins until all the cheese has melted.

Tips: A great advantage to this dish is that it can be spiced up in so many ways – and again most of the ingredients will be close at hand. Fry an onion, mix into the cheese sauce and sprinkle with paprika and you’re well on the way to a real feast. To really go to town, fry bacon or chunks of pancetta and add to the sauce. Also try tinned tuna.

Tortiglioni with Tuna

Serves:  4;  Prep:  5 mins;  Cook:  15 mins

Ingredients:  1 red pepper; 335g/12oz Buitoni Tortiglioni; 1 x 15ml tbsp olive oil; 2 x 200g cans tuna, drained; 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes; 1 x 50g can anchovies, drained and chopped; 50g/2oz pitted black olives, halved; 25g /1oz sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped; large sprig basil, chopped; salt and freshly ground black pepper; large sprig of basil to serve

  • Quarter and de-seed the red pepper and place skin-side up under a preheated hot grill.
  • Grill pepper for 10-15 mins until the skin starts to blacken, remove from grill and place in a clean plastic bag and leave to cool down.
  • Peel the pepper quarters, throw away the skin and then cut into slices.
  • Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
  • Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the remaining ingredient, along with the grilled pepper, and simmer gently together for 5 mins until piping hot.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the pan.  Toss in the hot sauce, garnish with the sprig of basil, and serve immediately with some ciabatta bread and a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Creamy Pasta with Prawns

Serves:  4

Ingredients:  8oz/225g pasta spirals; 1 tblsp vegetable oil; 3oz/75g spring onions, sliced; one garlic clove, crushed; 1 tsp tomato puree; 6 tblsp fromage frais or single cream; 4oz/100g cooked, peeled prawns; 7oz/200g tuna in brine, drained and flaked; small bunch of fresh basil, chopped; salt and freshly ground black pepper; fresh bay leaf or finely shredded spring onion, to garnish

  • Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan.  Add the onions and garlic and fry for one minute, stirring.  Stir in the tomato puree, fromage frais, prawns and tuna.  Add the basil and 4 tblsp water.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta then return it to the pan.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, mixing it in well.  Warm together gently and season to taste.  Serve garnished with the bay leaf or shredded spring onion.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Serves:  6-8;  Prep:  40 mins;  Cook:  40 mins

Ingredients:  1 lb/450g dried green lasagne; salt; olive oil; 3 lb/1.5kg fresh spinach; 1 egg, lightly beaten (for the spinach balls; 2 tbsp/30ml dried breadcrumbs; 5oz/150g fresh grated Parmesan cheese; nutmeg; freshly ground black pepper; 2 eggs, lightly beaten (for coating the aubergines and courgettes; 2 large aubergines, cut lenghtwise into 1/4in./4mm slices; 4oz/100g white flour; 2 large courgettes, cut lengthwise into 1/4in / 5mm slices; 11oz/300g fresh oyster mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms, sliced; 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped; 1 tbsp/15ml fresh chopped parsley; double quantity of tomato sauce (see recipe above); 11oz/300g fontina cheese, cut into chunks; 7 eggs, lightly beaten (for assembling the lasagne)

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 5 / 375oF/190oC.
  • Cook the dried pasta, adding the pieces one by one to boiling water to which you have added salt and 1 tbsp of oil, to prevent the lasagne sticking together.  Allow 8-10 minutes for it to cook.  Carefully remove the pasta and then pat dry on clean tea towels.
  • To make the spinach balls:  cook the spinach in a little water until tender, drain well and chop finely.  Mix the spinach with 1 tbsp beaten egg, the dried breadcrumbs and 1oz/25g of the Parmesan cheese.  Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Using your hands, shape spinach mixture into walnut-sized balls.  Heat oil to deep fry spinach balls, until lightly browned on all sides.  remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
  • To prepare the aubergines, put half of the other 2 beaten eggs in a dish.  Dip the aubergine slices into the flavour and then into the beaten egg.  Heat enough oil to deep fry the aubergine, until golden.  remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
  • Prepare the courgettes in the same way as the aubergines, dipping them into the flour and the beaten egg, then deep frying them.  then set them aside on paper towels.
  • To prepare the mushrooms, heat 1 tbsp oil in a separate frying pan, add the mushroom slices and fry briefly.  Sitr in the garlic and parsley, with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To assemble the lasagne, put 3-4 tbsp tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.  cover with a layer of pasta.  Next add a layer each of the mushrooms, the courgettes, aubergine and spinach balls.  Add some of the fontina cheese.  Now add 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce, 3-4 tbsp of the beaten eggs and a generous sprinkling of the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  • Staring with a layer of pasta, repeat the sequence of layers until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of vegetables.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Then cut into portions and serve.
  • Tip:  You can prepare this dish up until the point when it’s ready to go into the oven.  Store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, then bake when required.

Mushroom Pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients:  8oz (225g) mushrooms, sliced; 1 medium onion, chopped; 3 garlic cloves, crushed; 1oz (25g) butter; 1 tblsp sunflower oil; 8oz (225g) tinned pineapple pieces (in natural juice), reserving juice; 14oz (400g) tinned chopped tomatoes; 2 tsp tomato puree; 2 tsp worcestershire sauce; 2 tsp schwartz all purpose seasoning; 1 1/2 chicken stock cubes; 9oz (250g) dried pasta shapes.

  • This dish is delicious and easy to fling together after a busy day.  Place mushrooms, onion and garlic in a saucepan with butter and sunflower oil.  Heat gently for a few minutes, until vegetables are tender but not mushy.
  • Add pineapple pieces and juice, tomatoes, tomato puree, worcestershire sauce and all purpose seasoning.  Stir.
  • Dissolve stock cubes in 5 fl oz (150ml) hot water and add to the pan.  Simmer for about 15 mins or until juices reduce and thicken.  While sauce is simmering, boil the pasta according to packet instructions.  Drain pasta and rinse with boiling water.  Mix sauce and pasta together in a bowl and serve.

Sausage Macaroni Bake

Serves:  4-6;  Cals per portion:  585-880

Ingredients:  8 Lincolnshire sausages; 225g (8oz) macaroni; 50g (2oz) butter; 50g (2oz) flour; 600ml (1pt) milk; 175g (6oz) Cheddar cheese, grated; 5ml (1 tsp) mustard; 2 firm tomatoes, thickly sliced.

  • Grill the sausages for 10-15 mins.  cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10-15 mins until just tender.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan, then gradually stir in the flour.  Cook for 1 min, then gradually stir in the milk.  Bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard.  Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Drain the macaroni and add to the cheese sauce.  Slice the sausages and place half in an ovenproof dish.  Spoon over the macaroni and sauce and top with the remaining sausages and sliced tomatoes.
  • Bake at 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 for 20 mins until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Honeyed Pork Tagliatelle

 A recipe by Rosemary Conley

Serves:  4;  Prep:  20 mins;  Cook:  20-25 mins

A filling combination of pasta and lean pork in a delicious tomato sauce

Ingredients:  15fl oz/450ml tomato passata; 1 chicken stock cube; 2 medium onions, finely chopped; 4 oz/125g mushrooms, sliced; salt and black pepper; 1 lb/450g pork fillet or thin pork escalopes; 2 tsp/10ml clear honey; 1 tbsp/15ml soy sauce; 8-10oz/225-275g tagliatelle; basil, to garnish

  • Place the passata in a pan and add the chicken stock cub and chopped onions.  Heat gently until the stock cube dissolves, then simmer slowly until the onions are almost tender.  Add the sliced mushrooms and seasoning to taste and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms and onion are cooked.
  • Meanwhile, cut the pork fillet or escalopes into thin strips.  Quickly dry fry the pork strips in a hot frying pan.  When the pork is nicely coloured, stir in the clear honey and the soy sauce.  Mix thoroughly to ensure that the strips are well coated.
  • Pour the tomato, onion and mushroom mixture onto the cooked pork strips in the frying pan, stir well and cook gently for a further 3-4 minutes or until the pork is tender.
  • Cook the tagliatelle in a large pan of boiling water according to the instructions on the packet.  Drain the pasta well and pile it onto a warm serving dish.  Top with the pork mixture, garnish with the basil and serve hot.

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.