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Recipe – Sicilian Sardine Pasta

I had a tin of sardines hanging around in my cupboard so wanted to find a recipe to use them up that was not too ‘fishy’. I know that probably sounds ridiculous but I’m not a huge fan of the taste of oily fish on its own but mixed with other things, I quite like the saltiness it can add. I found a few versions of this Sicilian dish online and kind of mixed up a few recipes to create this one. We enjoyed this for dinner one night and the fennel and pine nuts add really lovely flavours and textures.

Ingredients

A generous handful of dried raisins or currants

1 can of sardines in oil

1 fennel bulb, chopped – save the fronds too!

A pinch of chili flakes

Diced bread – you could use normal bread but a sliced up French stick is better

One onion, roughly chopped

A handful of pine nuts

Enough pasta for two people (I used fusilli)

A small handful of fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

How to make it

  • Begin by soaking the raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes until plump then drain

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  • Pour a little of the oil from the sardines into a large frying pan on a low to medium heat
  • Add the chili flakes and the fennel fronds then sauté for a minute
  • Add the diced bread and fry for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden

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  • Transfer the croutons to some kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil
  • Add the rest of the sardine oil to the pan followed by the fennel and onion

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  • Soften on a medium heat for about 10 minutes
  • In a separate pan, cook your pasta until al dente then drain
  • Add the pine nuts and raisins to the fennel and onion followed by the sardines (you can break the fish into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon)

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  • Cook for about 5 minutes then add the croutons back in and cook for another 3
  • Add the pasta and mix well
  • Season to taste then serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top

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Sunday Catch-up #33

Whilst most have been bemoaning the rain this week, I have secretly quite liked it as I have been stuck inside essay writing…3 down, 1 more to go! We’ve also been dog-sitting Ruby Soho and I have loved taking her for her morning walk and watching her run through the fields, barking at imaginary dogs. Let’s not mention the fact that this was also the last week of the summer holidays and I have to go back to work next week.

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This week I have been…

Making: my bed every day and feeling like I’m getting into fresh sheets every night (I’m sure most other grown-ups do this as standard!)

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Going: to watch Bristol City play

Wearing: my hair in a centre-parting again

Eating: Sicilian sardine pasta

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Drinking: homemade sangria

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Reading: Pop Goes the Weasel (and it’s just as gripping as the first one!)

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Watching: Sons of Anarchy all day errrryday

Buying: a sneaky Birchbox order

Planning: my lessons for the next few weeks

Cooking: my smoked haddock chowder

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Baking: peanut butter and jelly bites

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Writing: on my blog daily again – I hope I can keep it up when I go back to work!

Favouriting: the new Autumn/ Winter fashion on ASOS

Working on: these damn essays

Trying to decide: what to get Ian for his birthday

Wishing: we could get a pet dog

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Enjoying: the rain

Needing: to start getting up earlier…10am lie-ins just won’t cut it anymore

Feeling: excited about starting a new term

Giggling at: how cosy this little one looked all wrapped up on the sofa!

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Recipe – Courgette and Parmesan Arancini

I feel like I have been teasing you with this recipe for a while and what better way to celebrate the end of the exam period at school than with a delicious arancini recipe?! These little balls of crunchy, cheesy risotto are one of my favourite things to order at an Italian restaurant and I was pleased to find out that they aren’t too tricky to make either.

In order to recreate this, you will need some leftover risotto and I highly recommend following my recipe here! I have left the amounts for this recipe rather vague as it really depends on how much rice you start with but it’s pretty simple to increase or decrease the amounts.

Ingredients

Leftover risotto

A good helping of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

A few tablespoons of plain flour

One egg, whisked up

A few tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper

A glug of olive oil

How to make it

  • Begin by adding a good sprinkling of Parmesan to the leftover risotto to up the cheese factor

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  • Prepare your three dipping bowls/ saucers with the flour, egg and seasoned breadcrumbs

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  • Wet your hands and roll the risotto into small golf ball-sized shapes

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  • Heat some oil in a pan on a low to medium heat
  • Roll each ball in flour, egg then breadcrumbs
  • Add to the frying pan and gently fry until golden brown – you may need to do this in two batches

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  • Drain on some kitchen paper to absorb any grease
  • Serve with a big salad and enjoy! x

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Recipe – Courgette Pasta and Spinach Balls (aka My Favourite Carluccio’s Dish!)

Apologies for the long title but it pretty much sums up today’s post! I think most people have a restaurant dish that they just love and for me, it is the Penne Giardiniera at Carluccio’s. I really like these restaurants and every time I go, I tell myself that I really should try something new but gravitate towards this dish without fail. It is so delicious and I have converted friends too who now order this without fail when they go!

I had a real craving for this pasta dish recently and decided to try and recreate it using my memory of how it looked and tasted, plus a bit of Google as well! There were two main components I had to master. Firstly, there is the pasta in a rich cheesy sauce with courgettes and flecks of heat coming from chilli flakes. This is tasty enough but there are also these beautiful crispy spinach and Parmesan balls which add another texture.

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I am pleased to report that I was triumphant! It tasted just as good as I remember although Carluccio’s use giant penne pasta whereas I just had the normal stuff. I also think my spinach balls weren’t quite as crispy but on the whole it was a really tasty dinner and one I will recreate often.

Ingredients (for 2)

For the spinach balls:

300g of fresh spinach leaves

1 egg, beaten

A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 garlic clove, minced

2 Weetabix biscuits (or about 50g of breadcrumbs)

30g of grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper

A glug of olive oil

About 200g of penne pasta (or enough for two people)

For the pasta:

Olive oil

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

A pinch of chilli flakes

1 courgette, grated

30g of Parmesan (and a little extra to sprinkle on top)

Salt and pepper

How to make it

  • Begin by making the spinach balls then keep them warm on a low heat in the oven. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spinach leaves for 3 minutes

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  • Drain well then put the leaves into a pan of ice cold water to stop them cooking

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  • Using your hands, squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can until you are left with a small ball of leaves

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  • Use a sharp knife to shred the spinach as finely as you can
  • Put the spinach in a bowl and add the egg, nutmeg, garlic, Weetabix, parmesan and a generous amount of salt and pepper

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  • Using your hands, mix well until everything is combined

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  • Roll the mixture into small balls

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  • In a frying pan, add a good glug of oil and heat gently on a low to medium setting
  • Fry the spinach balls in batches until crisp and golden and keep warm

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  • Now for the pasta! Cook the penne until al dente
  • In a large frying pan, heat some oil on a medium heat
  • Add your garlic and chilli and fry for a few minutes

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  • Now add the courgettes and cook for about 5 minutes

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  • Next, add the Parmesan and some salt and pepper
  • Finally, add the pasta with about half a ladleful of the cooking liquid to create a bit of a sauce

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  • Serve with the spinach balls on top and another sprinkling of Parmesan cheese

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One of my favourite pasta dishes I’ve ever made! x

Recipe – Goats Cheese and Spinach Ravioli

Recipe – Goats Cheese and Spinach Ravioli

I feel I start a lot of my recipe posts with the caveat that they are really quick and simple to make. That’s how I want the majority of my midweek recipes to be but every now and then, when I have an afternoon free at the weekend, I like to get my hands (and kitchen!) messy and spend a few hours creating something special.

This recipe involves making pasta from scratch – without a pasta maker – and then rolling, filling and crimping the ravioli. Yes, it’s a bit more effort than buying a packet of the stuff but I can honestly say it was worth it and so much better than the ready-made stuff.

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Would I make it every weekend? No – it required quite a bit of time, created some mess and killed my hands rolling it out but for a special treat or when friends come over, I would definitely put the effort in and recreate this.

I used the John Lewis ravioli set which was a rather brilliant Christmas present from my friend Cat and contains everything you need for various sizes of ravioli.

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I chose a vegetarian filling but there are so many options if you wanted to add meat or fish (I want to try a crab filling next!) I also wanted a really simple sauce to serve with the ravioli so made a kind of pesto drizzle but mixing up a spoonful of pesto with some good quality olive to thin it slightly.

Ingredients (for two people)

For the pasta:

300g of ‘00’ white flour

3 eggs

A pinch of salt

A glug of olive oil

For the filling:

Half a bag of fresh spinach

One little ‘log’ of soft goats cheese

Salt and pepper

A grating of nutmeg

For the sauce:

A tablespoon of fresh pesto

A good glug of olive oil

A handful of freshly grated Parmesan

How to make it

  • Begin with a large work surface (I used my kitchen table) and sift the flour

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  • Make a well in the centre and crack in the three eggs (confession…mine went all over the table!)

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  • Add the salt and about one tablespoon of olive oil
  • Using your hands, mix the ingredients together – it will start out as quite a crumbly texture but once you start kneading it, it will become a soft dough

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  • At this point, knead for 5-10 minutes and it should be a smooth dough

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  • Roll it into a ball, pop it in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for about half an hour
  • Whilst the dough is resting, make the filling
  • In a saucepan, wilt the spinach leaves then add the goats cheese

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  • Season well with salt and pepper and grate some nutmeg into the pan too

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  • Allow to cool
  • It is now time to get rolling!

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  • Lightly flour your work surface and start rolling out your pasta as thin as you can get it – this is quite a task as it’s a very springy dough that almost doesn’t want to be stretched but persevere!

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  • Once the pasta sheet is as thin as possible, cut in half then spoon the filling in equally spaced mounds on the pasta

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  • Brush the spaces between with a beaten egg

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  • Gently lay the other sheet of pasta over the top and press down around the fillings to remove any air bubbles

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  • Use the ravioli cutter to create your pasta shapes

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  • Once you have all your ravioli squares (or circles!) ready, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and gently simmer the pasta for 3-6 minutes
  • Drain and serve with the pesto drizzle over the top – I couldn’t resist a handful of Parmesan too!

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Like I said, this was really delicious and definitely worth the extra bit of effort…expect some more varieties on the blog soon x

Sunday Catch-up #11

Sunday Catch-up #11

I’ve been feeling much better this week and straight away had little bursts of energy and creativity, probably to make up for the fact I did very little apart from sit on the sofa watching trashy TV for most of last week!

This week I have been…

Making: pasta from scratch!

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Going: on a good 5 mile round walk in the sunshine

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Wearing: a new Models Own nail varnish

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Eating: a five-course taster menu at The Moonraker

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Drinking: chilled Appletiser

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Reading: I’m on book three of this series now and cannot put them down…and may have ordered more!

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Watching: The new series of The Following – I think this show kind of peaked in the first series but I will persevere as I love the dark, gothic cult-following storyline

Buying: phone cases…how many is too many?!

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Planning: our weekly meals again – back on the healthy eating

Cooking: goats cheese and spinach ravioli

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Baking: this amazing steak and kidney pie (well my Dad did, we just cooked and ate it!)

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Writing: lots of blog post ideas for the coming weeks

Favouriting: ravioli recipes – so many options!

Working on: my ironing pile (boring but true)

Trying to decide: if I can be bothered to get up early enough to go for a swim before work this week

Wishing: my Mum a very Happy Mothers Day!

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Enjoying: a lazy weekend with Ian with absolutely no plans

Needing: to get back to Pilates – I missed it this week and felt so sluggish

Feeling: much more like myself after shifting this pesky cold

Giggling at: Comic Relief

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Recipe – Mac ‘n’ Cauliflower Cheese

Hello! I hope you are having a good weekend. We have a quiet one planned before several busy weekends and festive plans start kicking in. I’ve been to get my hair cut and coloured this morning in Bath where I had a wander and bought a ‘coatigan’…yeah, I’m not 100% sure what it is either but it’s cosy and fluffy!

Today’s recipe is classic cold weather food although I for one could (and do!) eat mac ‘n’ cheese all year round. Any guilt you may feel at eating a plate of pasta and cheese is eased slightly with the addition of cauliflower and it really does add an extra flavour and texture to the dish. I kept mine veggie this time but if I made it again, I would try adding some bacon and maybe some spinach or broccoli florets too. I’ve stuck to Cheddar and Parmesan cheese for this recipe but it could be good to mix these up and experiment with some flavoured cheese as well.

I will hold my hands up and say that today’s recipe is one inspired by a Jamie Oliver dish my friend told me about where everything is cooked over one pan and the need to make a roux from scratch is avoided making this a perfect mid-week quick supper.

Ingredients

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350-400g of macaroni

1 whole cauliflower (remove the leaves and cut into small florets)

300g Cheese (I used about 200g of Cheddar and 100g of Parmesan)

200g tub of crème fraîche

Salt and pepper

A bunch of fresh parsley

Another handful of grated cheese for the topping (optional but necessary!)

How to make it

  • In large pan of boiling water, add the pasta and cauliflower florets
  • Place a large bowl over the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water, and add the cheese and crème fraîche

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  • Now, the theory is that in the time the pasta and cauliflower takes to cook, the steam from the pan should melt the cheese and crème fraîche to create a smooth cheese sauce! This did work for me although I did have to remove the bowl and give the pasta the occasional stir to ensure it didn’t stick together.

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  • Once you have a lovely smooth cheese sauce, season well and add a generous amount of chopped parsley

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  • Remove the cheese sauce and drain the pasta and cauliflower
  • In a large ovenproof dish, mix the cheese sauce through the pasta – you could serve it like this but I think you have to go for a crispy topping!

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  • Sprinkle over some grated cheese and pop it under the grill until the top has turned golden brown and crispy

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You can enjoy this with a nice green salad but I prefer mine piled high in a bowl with a final sprinkling of fresh parsley whilst catching up on Gogglebox on the sofa! x

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