Vegetarian

Penne with Courgettes, Mushrooms & Pine Nuts (Serves 1)

This is a pasta recipe which I have been serving to my family for more years than I care to mention, it’s a ‘home grown’ recipe, one which I developed after being inspired by a pasta I tried in a restaurant. It’s not fancy, but it is one of those easy midweek dishes, which is instantly gratifying. It is a super easy recipe, here I have reduced the ingredients for one serving. Enjoy!

1 small courgette, cut into batons

 1 large flat mushroom (about 100g), sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 tablespoon pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

100g penne pasta

Sea salt and black pepper

1 heaped tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve

  1. In a dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over a medium/high heat for a few minutes until golden. Remove and keep to one side.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan and fry the courgette batons over a medium heat until softened, but retaining some ‘bite’ (al dente). Remove and keep to one side.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, add the garlic slices and fry over a medium heat for about 30 seconds before adding the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices and have softened but are still retaining their shape.
  4. Meanwhile cook the penne pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  5. Finally, return the courgettes to the pan along with the pine nuts, stir to combine and reheat before adding the drained penne pasta. Give everything a good mix and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with a very generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Rigatoni with Sweet Tomatoes, Aubergine & Mozzarella (4 Portions)

This has been one of my family’s favourites for many years, it is a Jamie Oliver recipe from one of his older books, ‘Jamie’s Dinners’, it is his take on the classic Italian dish of ‘Pasta alla Norma’. The wonderful combination of aubergines and tomatoes is enriched by the addition of mozzarella, as the cheese melts it becomes deliciously ‘stringy’! I prefer if without the addition of the dried chilli flakes, but if you like a bit of heat you could add some.

This recipe will make 4 portions, you can freeze the portions but do not add the cream or mozzarella to the portions that you are going to freeze – see notes in recipe. Freeze in individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. Then pour the defrosted sauce into a small pan and for each individual portion add 1 tablespoon of cream and 50g of torn mozzarella. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta.

1 large aubergine (or 2 small)

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

A bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and stalks sliced

4 tablespoons double cream (do not add if freezing – see note above)

100g rigatoni or penne (400g for 4 portions)

200g mozzarella cheese (do not add if freezing – see note above)

½ teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional – see note above)

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

  1. Remove both ends of the aubergines and slice into 1cm slices then slice these across to form 1 cm cubes.
  2. In a large frying/sauté pan heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil. When it’s hot, add the aubergine cubes and stir them around so that they are lightly coated in the oil. Cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat until softened.
  3. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a few more minutes. When they have a little colour, add the tinned tomatoes, the balsamic vinegar and the sliced basil stalks (if you want to add some heat you could add the chilli flakes at this point). Simmer gently for 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  4. If you are freezing in portions, do so now before adding the cream or mozzarella.
  5. To serve one portion: cook 100g pasta according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. Meanwhile stir 1 tablespoon of cream into the sauce, then add the drained pasta. Tear up 50g of mozzarella and a few fresh basil leaves, and stir them through the pasta and sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.
  6. To serve straightaway, without freezing: Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. Meanwhile stir the cream into the sauce. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the sauce. Tear up the mozzarella and fresh basil leaves, and stir them through the pasta and sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry  (3-4 Portions)

This mild, vegetarian curry makes a super easy supper, perfect midweek when time is of essence. Serve with steamed rice. Left overs can be easily frozen, in portions, to defrost as and when you need!

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 pinch chilli flakes

1 thumb sized piece ginger, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

400g tin tomatoes

500g tinned chickpeas, drained, chickpea water reserved

A large bunch spinach

3 tablespoons coriander, chopped

  1. Grind all the spices together with a pestle and mortar, to create a fine powder. Then mash in the chopped ginger to create a dry paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic, gently sweat until softened.
  3. Add the spice mixture and cook for a minute or so, before adding the tomatoes, chickpeas and the reserved chickpea water. Cook over a low heat until the sauce is thickened and the tomatoes have broken up  – around 25 minutes.
  4. Finally stir through the spinach, check the seasoning and serve topped with the chopped coriander and with rice on the side