Linguine with sausage meatballs and chard

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This seasonal pasta dish will be on the table in under 20 mins. A great dish for this weekend if you have guests coming over. It has a velvety sauce that will wow your guests but it’s not too filling. It’s also great for a quick midweek meal when you have a couple of sausages left in the fridge.

It can be adapted if you can’t get the lovely seasonal chard either to spring greens or cavolo nero ( dark kale ). Maybe a friend who has an allotment or veggie patch will gladly give you some.

I think sometimes chard can be pushed aside slightly. Many people I speak to shy away from it as they aren’t sure how to use it. It sometimes can confuse people with its large leaves and stems. I personally love the veg and feel it should be showcased more. It’s beautiful colours are a delight to look at. Especially as we are in Autumn now. Mine are still growing well in the kitchen garden, some have bolted as I want them to go to seed but the others are fine.

I may even grow some more over the coming months.

Listen here where you can hear me cooking this super simple, quick and inexpensive recipe for Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester.

 

Linguine with sausage meatballs and chard:

 

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Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

Sausage Meatballs:

  • 3-4 pork sausages ( Meat taken out of the skins )
  • A small handful of fennel fronds/tops chopped
  • A sprig of sage chopped ( 4 leaves )
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season

Pasta:

  • 200g, linguine ( I used dry )
  • Good glug of Rapeseed oil ( I use cold pressed )
  • 1 medium sized red onion diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic chopped, use 2 if very small
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • A good pinch of chilli flakes or you can use fresh.
  • 2 large handfuls chard chopped roughly, stalks a little smaller. If you can’t get chard, use spring greens or cavolo nero.
  • 1/4 gel pot of chicken stock
  • 2 ladles hot water from the pasta
  • Slug double cream
  • fresh parmesan grated

 

 

Method: 

  • Cook linguine to packet instructions
  • Mix together the sausage meat, herbs and seasoning and create small meatballs. This will make roughly 16 small sized ones.
  • Whilst that is cooking, fry of the onion in rapeseed oil on a medium heat for a minute, then add in the mushrooms. You may need to add a little more rapeseed oil.
  • After a couple of minutes bring your mixture to the sides of the frying pan.
  • Add in your meatballs into the middle and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring as you go.
  • After a couple of minutes, add in the garlic and toss all together.

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  • When the meatballs are starting to brown slightly, pop in the chard.
  • As it cooks down, add in your chilli flakes and chicken stock.
  • Add in the water from the pasta and reduce down for a minute or two.

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  • Drain off your pasta, keep some water if you feel you need to add a little more.
  • Add a slug of double cream and a little grated parmesan

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  • Add your pasta to the sauce using tongs or a spaghetti spoon so you don’t add too much at once. Fold the velvety sauce through the pasta.
  • Serve into large pasta bowls and add a sprinkle of grated fresh parmesan.

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Warm pearl barley salad with courgettes, leeks, herbs and chicken.

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Even though Autumn has now arrived and we saw the equinox appear on Friday, we are still in that “in-between stage” as I call it certainly food wise.

I cooked this recipe on my regular BBC Radio Leicester slot with Ben Jackson a couple of weeks ago. I came up with the recipe because we are still having lovely bouts of sunshine and like in my garden, I am still harvesting the last of the summer vegetables. I still have Courgettes, baby leeks, carrots, beans, lots of herbs and many more to list. Great for me to create even more recipes with in the next few weeks.

I feel at this time of year we are in the middle of wanting comfort food but maybe somedays you still want food that is quick to prepare, healthy and feels light when eating.

This is a great recipe also for using up leftover Roast chicken. So if you usually have chicken for a Sunday Roast, or in midweek then this is a perfect meal to come up with after. I also wanted to showcase how to use pearl barley in a different way rather that just in stews/casseroles and highlight the lovely herbs in this dish. Pearl barley is inexpensive and you don’t need to use a lot of it.

 

Click here to hear me with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester showing you just how quick and simple this meal is to prepare.

 

 

Warm pearl barley salad with courgettes, leeks and chicken. 

 

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Ingredients:

  • 75g of cooked pearl barley , I cooked mine in a little chicken stock and seasoned with cracked black pepper and sea salt once cooked.
  • 2 tbsps of rapeseed Oil.
  • 2 knobs of unsalted butter.
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Courgettes sliced to the thickness of a one pound coin.
  • 2 baby leeks or 1 small leek finely sliced.
  • 1 large spring onions or 2 small sized ones finely sliced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped .
  • Approximately 100g of leftover roast chicken, shredded. ( I used chicken thighs and cooked mine in rapeseed oil with garlic, lemon thyme, oregano, sage, dill and fennel. Plus seasoned. I also added a few slices of lemon.)
  • A good handful of fresh herbs such as dill, fennel fronds, fennel pollen and mint finely chopped.
  •   A few Squeezes of fresh lemon.
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to season.
  • If you want to keep this recipe vegetarian then simply leave out the chicken and chicken stock.

 

Method:

  • Fry off your courgettes for a couple of minutes in rapeseed oil.
  •  Add in your garlic and stir. Then pop in your leeks and cook for a further minute. Again stirring or tossing around the pan allowing your garlic not to stick or burn.
  • Add the white parts of your spring onion, stir and then add in your butter. Cook for a further minute.
  • By now the courgettes will be cooked and glossy with the butter. Season with cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt .
  • Add to this mixture your green part of the spring onions and take off the heat.
  • Sprinkle in your fresh herbs but save some dill and fennel fronds for serving.
  • Pour your mixture into a bowl, add to this then your shredded chicken and pearl barley, Squeeze a little fresh lemon into the mix and give it a good stir.
  • Serve into large bowls, add the remaining dill and fennel on top and a little extra squeeze of lemon ( if you like it extra zingy ).
  • You can serve this on its own or with some toasted bread ( a batard type ).  Use the same frying pan to lightly toast your bread if you do and it will give it wonderful flavour.

 

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Barbecued provencal mussels

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There’s nothing more I like that cooking outdoors. Wherever I can do it, I will. Yesterday was in my lovely little garden which is great as I can pick whatever herbs, fruit and vegetables I want. I get really bored of typical bbq food, i.e. burgers, hot dogs, sausages etc…that a lot of us Brits do. So if you are like me and want to cook something easy but a little more adventurous then this recipe will be for you. Especially if you like seafood!

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The only thing I would stress is that cooking outdoors, some bbq’s, fire pits, outdoor ovens with have different strengths to how hot they are and how quick things will cook. It also will change in time to how much other ingredients you put in there along with the mussels.

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Ingredients:

( Serves two as a main course portion )

  • A 1kg bag of fresh Mussels ( Mine were Scottish )
  • half an onion diced finely
  • 1 small courgette diced finely
  • A good handful of tomatoes. Sliced in half. I used my own homegrown ones which were golden ones and some piccolo red ones.
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A few slices of a funnel bulb diced finely and also a few fronds
  • A handful of parsley ripped roughly
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • A good splash of white wine. I used Sauvignon blanc. Plus a good splash for yourself!
  • 2 knobs of unsalted butter
  • Also I used a branch of bay, thyme and Rosemary to smoke underneath the embers. The smell is amazing!

 

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Method:

  • De-beard and clean your mussels including taking off any barnacles. Rinse them under cold water.
  • Make a bag/parcel with foil and place in your Mussels plus all other vegetables and herbs. Add your wine and place the butter over everything.
  • Close up your foil parcel and place onto your bbq.
  • This will Cook for roughly 12-15 minutes ( Times may vary ) If you are cooking with just the mussels, it will take less time.
  • After half way through take off and check how far it is cooking. Stir will a spoon and place back on the bbq.
  • When everything is cooked through, take off, pour into large bowls and serve with some crusty buttered bread.

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Chicken, red wine casserole with parmentier potatoes and local king cabbage

 

 

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Even with how many recipes I develop on a day to day basis, it still begins to amaze me when a dish turns out fantastically especially when you were just using the odd thing up in your cupboards and fridge.

It was last month on a Sunday and I said to my partner I was going to do a bit of a fridge/cupboard raid for dinner. I called it a chasseur at the time just because it was cooked in red wine but I’ve decided to call it a casserole as it was cooked the same way.

This recipe blew my mind with how the red wine tasted in it. The wine I use isn’t too expensive but one of which we love in our house. A South African Stellenbosch.

Earlier on in the day we had been to our local garden centre to actually look for another blueberry plant to help with pollination. We did get one. However when we first turned up, they had these huge King cabbages for sale at only 40p! As you can see by the picture below, it had these vivid green and purple tones that were just mesmerising. I knew it would taste nice and would stretch to lots of meals for us.

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This was the sort of meal that for an occasion, date night maybe or a Sunday that you are fed up of the same roast, this a great alternative and so easy to cook. It somehow feels a little extra special but still comforting and warming at its best.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts ( Or 1 per person )
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1-2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
  • a knob of unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped/sliced however you like
  • 1 large leek sliced
  • 1/2 celery stick chopped
  • 3/4 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a sprig of thyme
  • a good handful of chervil, if you can’t get use a little parsley and tarragon
  • 250ml red wine ( I used a South African Stellenbosch )
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree, may need to use a little more
  • Chicken stock, Use a 1/4 gel pot or homemade. You need enough to create a lovely sauce. I used about 300ml of water. Add more if need be.
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season

Parmentier Potatoes:

  • 6/7 medium sized potatoes, I use marfona Peeled and chopped into squares
  • A handful of rosemary
  • 3-4 garlic cloves crushed
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • 1-2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

 

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Method:

  •  Preheat your oven to 190c

 

  • In a heavy bottomed casserole dish, seal off the chicken breasts in some rapeseed oil.

 

  •  Take out your chicken once starting to colour and pop aside. Then in the same pan add a little more oil and a knob of unsalted butter and fry off your onions until starting to soften.

 

  •  Add in your carrots and celery and stir. Then add all other ingredients . Pop the lid on and place in the oven for about 45 mins-hour.

 

  • In the mean time you can prepare and cook your potatoes. Blanch the potatoes in boiling water for 3-4 mins.

 

  •  Drain and sprinkle your flour over the potatoes coating them.

 

  •  Place a baking/roasting tray in the oven with a little rapeseed oil in it. Once hot pop the potatoes onto it ( it should sizzle ) with the herbs and garlic and place in the oven for about 15 minutes or when crispy, golden brown.

 

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  • Once the casserole and potatoes are done. Best way to cook this cabbage is boil your water first and then once rapidly boiling plunge into the hot water. It will only need about 4-5 minutes cooking maximum and will stay vivid green.

 

  •  Once the cabbage is cooked, serve all together and enjoy.

 

 

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Sausage, veg & mashed potato bake

 

 

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Crispy mash top

 

I have just come in from being in the garden ( yes, sowing already )!  And even though we had glorious sunshine this morning in Leicestershire, it now has turned somewhat dull, and cloudy with a nip in the air still, due to the changing of seasons.

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Looking “Spring – like” in my garden. That is my rocket that has gone to flower in the background.

 

I’m starting off the week with a recipe that I have made twice now in our household and both times we have gone back for seconds, in fact one house guest actually had thirds!

We had this yesterday for our Sunday dinner as I had currently bought some reduced pork sausages and my leeks were only 21p too, bargain. The first time I made it was on a Friday night when a friend of ours stayed for the weekend. I wouldn’t have normally cooked something like this on a Friday but I’m glad I didn’t do my first choice, which was a fish pie…as it turns out, he wasn’t keen on fish! I was meant to write about it then, but it went down so good that muggins here forgot to take photographs.

This dish is great for a family midweek meal. By all means, if you don’t want the wine in it, take it out. It’s such a frugal recipe that will stretch far for portions and has lots of hidden veg inside too. I have used frozen peas and sweetcorn in this so for families who have the frozen mixture with carrots in also, use that if you like.

What a  great way to make sausage and mash that little bit more special. A real, rustic bake that you will have your family wanting more.

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Not the greatest photo, I admit, but I can assure you, this is comfort at its best.

Ingredients:

( Serves up to 6 people or 4 very generous portions )

  •  1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  •  1 pack of 8 British pork sausages ( not with a lot of herbs )
  •  2 onions sliced
  •  1 leek sliced
  •  A good splash of red wine ( I used a French full bodied ) about 125ml * Optional *
  •  1 tbsp tomato puree
  •  dash of Worcester sauce
  •  1/2 tbsp of Damson jam or any thing such as red current jelly to a similar taste
  •  Fresh herbs ( small sprig of each ) rosemary, thyme and sage
  •  handful of frozen peas and sweetcorn ( defrosted and drained )
  •  1/2 pork stock cube
  •  2 tbsp of chicken gravy or pork ( good quality )
  •  Salt and cracked black pepper to season ( may not need salt )

Mashed potato topping 

  • 8 good sized potatoes ( I use Marfona from a local farm )
  •  2 good knobs of unsalted butter
  •  1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  •  dash of double cream ( 100 ml )
  •  Salt and cracked black pepper to season if needed.

 

Method:

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Pretty self explanatory really…some sausages cut up!

 

  •  Boil your potatoes. Mash with the other ingredients or use a potato ricer like I did, then add in the ingredients.

 

  • Preheat your oven to 180c

 

  • Fry off your sausages until starting to turn golden brown.

 

  • Cut your sausages into 3 and place into your chosen oven proof dish.

 

  • Fry your onion until starting to soften and turn colour. Add in the red wine, tomato puree, Worcester sauce, Jam or jelly, stock and gravy and stir together. Add 300ml of water or until consistency is correct for a thick sauce. Taste to see if you need anything else more.

 

  • Add in your leeks and herbs. Cook for about 5 more minutes. Adding water if need be. Pour the gravy mixture over the sausages.

 

  • Scatter your peas and sweetcorn over. Cover with the mash and fork the top to create lots of crispy bits.

 

  • Pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with green veg such as cabbage, Spring greens or broccoli.

 

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Layering up

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That crispy top again. You’ll fight for this corner/ end bits!