Green Pasta with Blue Cheese

Four ingredients for instant comfort food.

8 oz. trottole verde or any curly pasta of choice
4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tbs. chopped, shelled pistachios

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt it. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain.

Return the pasta to the pot along with the gorgonzola and spinach. Put on the lid and leave to sit without heat for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, put the heat on low and stir everything together, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the sauce.

Take off the heat, toss in about two-thirds of the pistachios, then divide between 2 warmed bowls. Scatter over the remaining pistachios and a good grinding of black pepper to serve.

Serves 2

Chicken with Tarragon Salsa Verde

Let’s be honest here, the chicken is simply the vehicle by which one gets to eat this wonderful and fragrant sauce.

For the chicken:

2 tbs. olive oil
4 chicken breast cutlets or boneless chicken thighs
small bunch fresh tarragon

For the sauce:

leaves from a small bunch fresh parsley (about 1 cup)
leaves from a small bunch fresh tarragon (about 1/4 cup)
1 scallion, green and white part roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Heat the oven to 425°F. Pour 1 tbs. of the olive oil into a shallow ovenproof dish in which the chicken will all fit snuggly. Arrange them skin-side up. Tuck 2 sprigs of tarragon around them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the parsley, tarragon, scallion, zest, juice, salt and half the olive oil. Using a food processor or immersion blender, whizz into a paste. Slowly add the remaining olive oil and blend well. Taste for seasoning.

Once the chicken has cooked, pour any pan juices into the sauce and blend again. Serve the sauce drizzled over the chicken.

Serves 4

 

 

Pasta with Zucchini

This is homey and comforting pasta that tastes best when eaten out of a large bowl with a large spoon.

8 oz. caserecce or other small, tubular pasta
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lb. zucchini, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to sprinkle
2 tsp. butter

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Generously salt and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Put the olive oil and scallions in a heavy pan that comes with a lid and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the vermouth, 2 tbs. of the chopped parsley and season. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes by which time the zucchini should be tender.

Before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of the cooking water.

Tip the drained pasta into the pan with the zucchini along with the 3 tbs. Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss thoroughly and taste for seasoning. Add more pasta cooking water if needed. Stir in the butter and serve with the remaining parsley sprinted on top and more Parmesan cheese on the side.

Serves 2

Shrimp Pasta Rosa

This subtle and simple pasta is a pleasure both to make and to eat.

1 tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup mascarpone
1 tbs. garlic-flavored olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 oz. raw, peeled shrimp
5 tbs. red vermouth
8 oz. taglierini

Boil a large pot of water, then add a good bit of salt.

Stir together the tomato paste, milk and mascarpone and set aside.

In a wok or large pan, warm the olive oil and add the red pepper flakes, giving a stir in the heat before adding the shrimp. Stir-fry for a minute or two by which time they should be almost cooked through.

Pour in the vermouth and let it bubble excitedly. When it has reduced a little, add the sauce and stir until everything is hot.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta per package instructions, drain and toss with the shrimp and sauce. Divide between two bowls and serve immediately.

Served 2

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Bay Leaves and Balsamic Vinegar

Succulent and scented with fresh bay leaves, this is perfect and effortless for a Sunday lunch.

3 lb. boned and butterflied leg of lamb
6 fresh bay leaves, snipped, plus whole leaves to serve (optional)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the lamb in a shallow, sturdy roasting tin, skin-side down.

Scatter with the snipped bay leaves and half the salt, then pour over the oil and vinegar. Push the garlic slices into the crevices where you can and lay the rest on top. Leave to marinade for 30 minuets.

Turn the lamb over, so that now the skin side is up and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove and tent with foil for 15 minutes. Slice and place on a serving plate. Tuck extra whole bay leaves around the edges, if using.

Meatzza

This is basically a meatloaf made into round disc and served in slices like a pizza. It really does taste like a pizza without the crust!

1 lb. ground beef
3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbs. rolled oats
3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
salt and pepper to taste
butter, for greasing
1 x 14oz. tin diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp. garlic-flavored olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 oz. fresh mozzarella (not Buffalo), halved then sliced
few fresh basil leaves

Heat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together the beef, Parmesan, oats, parsley, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper. Butter an 11″ shallow, round baking pan and pat the mixture evenly and lightly with your fingers.

Make sure to drain as much juice out of the tomatoes as possible, then mix them with the garlic-flavored olive oil and the oregano. Season and spread on top of the meat base. Arrange the mozzarella on top and bake for 20-25 minutes, by which time the meat should be cooked through and the mozzarella melted.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then adorn with some fresh basil leaves and cut into slices, like a pizza.

Serves 6

Eggs in Purgatory

“….or what to eat when you feel like hell.”

1 tbs. olive oil
1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 x 14oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1-2 eggs
2-3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
bread, to serve (mandatory)
extra grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
chili oil, to serve (optional)

Pour the olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Put over a medium heat and stir for 1 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and salt and bring to a bubble. It’s got to be good and hot to pouch the egg.

Crack in the egg, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Partially cover with a lid and let it bubble for 5-6 minutes, by which time the white should be set and the yolk still runny.

Serve with toasted bread for dunking and drizzled with more grated Parmesan cheese and chili oil, if using.

Serves 1

 

Tequila and Lime Chicken

This lovely little chicken dish is packed with citrus flavor and can be roasted in the oven or cooked out on the grill. As with anything marinated, the longer the marinating time, the better!

1 medium chicken, cut into 8 pieces
5 tbs. tequila blanco
zest and juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tbs. regular olive oil
extra lime wedges and cilantro, to serve

Put the chicken pieces in a resealable bag or large bowl. Mix together the tequila, lime zest and juice, red pepper flakes, salt and oil. Add to the bag or bowl and squelch everything together. Chill for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. (If you are really short on time, marinate at room temperature for 40 minutes.)

When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge and leave for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange the chicken in a single layer in a roasting tin. Pour over half the marinade and cook for 25 minutes. Pour over the remaining marinade and cook a further 25 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Add a little boiling water to the roasting tin to deglaze the pan. Pour this over the chicken and serve with extra lime wedges and cilantro.

Alternatively, cook the chicken for 20 minutes on a medium-hot grill. Basting with the marinade and turning often.

Serves 4, generously

Baby Eggplant with Oregano and Red Onion

This is a lovely side dish for any grilled or roasted entree.

1 1/4 lb. baby eggplant
3 tbs. regular olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 small red onion, cut in thin half moons
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tbs. cold water
few fresh oregano sprigs

Heat the oven to 425°F. Slice the eggplants lengthwise, keeping the stalks on. Pour the 3 tbs. olive oil in a very shallow roasting tin. Sprinkle in the dried oregano, add the eggplant, cut side down and swirl them gently around. Turn them cut side cup and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, by which time they should be tender and turning golden.

As soon as the eggplant is in the oven, put the onions in a small bowl and cover with the vinegar and salt.

Remove the eggplant to a platter. Whisk the onions with the 4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, the garlic and water. Spoon them over the warm eggplants, then leave for about half an hour to cool to room temperature. Scatter with fresh oregano leaves to serve.

Serves 6 as a side dish

Yogurt Carton Cake

There is something completely charming about this cake. It begins by emptying a yogurt pot, then measuring the remaining ingredients using the pot. It is called “Chambella” in Italian and typically eaten for breakfast.

1 x 6oz. plain whole-milk yogurt carton (2/3 cup)
3 eggs, separated
1 carton vegetable oil (2/3 cup)
2 cartons caster sugar (1 1/3 cups)
2 capfuls vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cartons plain flour (1 2/3 cups)
1 carton corn starch (2/3 cup)
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ ring mold or savarin tin.

Scrape the yogurt out of it’s carton into a large bowl.  Beat in the egg yolks, then slowly beat in the oil. Add the vanilla and lemon zest. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and corn starch.

Fill the prepared tin with the smooth, soft batter (it will come to the top). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges come away and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake sit in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.