Linguine with sausage meatballs and chard



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:





(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


  • 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




  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.




Cauliflower, leek and chorizo gratin with a parmesan crumb topping.


So, this is my new blog. What do you think?

I thought what a better way to kick start it off but with a recipe that went out on last Friday for one of my regular shows I do for BBC Radio Leicester, “Food Friday” which I have done for a few years now. It’s on my friends show, that of course is the lovely Mr Ben Jackson. I love cooking on “Food Friday” as I love being able to help people think of ideas for the weekend. I normally do something seasonal, inexpensive, fridge raids/leftovers and family friendly recipes. You get the gist.

This dish is a simple recipe for a family of four all put together in one dish.It’s using seasonal ingredients at its best with a little something extra.

You could also have this as a side dish or starter in smaller sized dishes (how I have shown on the pictures). It’s a dish you really don’t need to be accurate with ingredients. You can play around with it a little, i.e if you don’t want to have the chorizo in it, its also great as that lovely parmesan crumb on top gives a special crunch. It would make a great dinner party dish that doesn’t have you slaving in the kitchen too.

It really is a super, simple supper that is inexpensive to make.

Click on this link to hear to me showing Ben and our listeners just how fabulous and easy it is to make.  


Half way point!


Depending on how big your dish is, this is based on serving 4 people in a 25cm gratin dish.

Gratin mix:

  •  1 whole head of cauliflower including using some of the leaves. Florets broken apart and sliced downwards to the stalks.
  • 1 leek sliced thinly
  • 1/2 chorizo ring ( approximately 100g ) chopped into smaller cubes
  • cheddar cheese grated, I used a mature British ( approximately 60-70g )
  • A sprig of thyme, if the leaves are quite large, chop them finely. My herbs are from my garden so I didn’t need to and just stripped off the leaves.
  • 300g carton of double cream ( you may not need to use it all, don’t cover the gratin mix with it )
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A few knobs of Unsalted butter
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season

Crumb topping:

  •  2 slices of bread ( a few days old ) I used wholemeal which gives more flavour
  • 2 spring onions chopped roughly
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • 2-3 tbsp Parmesan ( Parmigiana reggiano ) grated some in the crumb mix and some for on top


At the finish, bubbling away nicely



  •  Preheat your oven to 180c fan.


  •  Blanch off your cauliflower until just starting to soften.


  • In the meantime, in a blender/processor blitz together the ingredients for your topping.


  • In your chosen dish place a layer of cauliflower at the bottom. Then layer up with your leeks, chorizo, garlic, cheese and thyme. Then finish with cauliflower again on top.


  • Pour over your double cream and place your knobs of butter on top. Pop in the oven for 15 mins until things are starting to bubble and brown. Take out and put your crumb topping on. Place back in the oven for another 10 mins.


  • When golden brown onto, serve with perhaps some crusty bread, a nice salad and a lovely red wine.



Diving in!



Wheres that red wine and crusty bread?


Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale


An Autumnal risotto that is a lovely alternative recipe for when you want to do something a little more sophisticated but yet its still a great frugal “fridge raid” recipe.
 Risottos are a great way of using up what veg you need to. Plus with this dish you are using up any Pumpkin you may still have lying around as many just get thrown away or not bought at all throughout their season. Many just used for decoration. 
  You can even get the children involved in helping squeezing out all the orange coloured flesh.
 Use the Seeds by roasting them in the oven as a tasty snack and if you have any Risotto leftover, make Arancini the next day.
  Leeks and Kale are also in season at this time of year so if you like to cook along with them like me, this is the perfect dish for you.

 I did this recipe first for BBC Radio Leicester on my regular cooking slot for Ben Jackson’s show.  However this time, Ed Stagg was filling in for him. You can hear me showing Ed here how to make it.

 It was so popular, I decided to then do it for my weekly column.

Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale:


1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil

2-3 handfuls of Carnaroli risotto rice
a good splash of dry white wine
a handful of pearl barley cooked in a little chicken stock 
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 medium sized onion diced finely
1/4 leek sliced
1/4 small farmed pumpkin peeled and diced. Plus use some of the flesh inside to squeeze out the orange juice. ( I bought mine from a local Farm called Cattow’s Farm)
800ml homemade chicken stock or 1 gel pot chicken stock to 800ml water, can use veg stock if keeping vegetarian
2 rashers of smoked bacon sliced
Few gratings of parmesan cheese ( parmigiano reggiano )
handful of unsalted butter cold and diced
cracked black pepper to season 

Crispy Kale: 

A few handfuls of Curly kale

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
sprinkle of sea salt to season and sugar


*  Cook off pearl barley to packet instructions.

*  Sweat off chopped onion in a pan and cook until starting to go translucent 

*  Add garlic, stir and then pop in your rice. Stir but not too much.Then de glaze your pan with wine.Cook until starting to reduce.

*  Add in hot Chicken stock then ladle by ladle for about 10 minutes, not allowing to stick, but not string too much as this will make the rice glutinous

*  pop in your Kale in the oven on 200c or 190 fan for 5 minutes.

*  Add in your chopped pumpkin to the risotto and cook for further 5 minutes, then add your leek and cook for a further 3 minutes.

*  Fry off your bacon in a separate pan till it goes crispy on the edges

*  Then add in your cooked pearl barley and stir only a little. Here you can squeeze the inside bright coloured flesh into the risotto to make an orange colour

*  Add your butter to the risotto, plus a little parmesan and cracked black pepper,  turn the heat off and cover with a lid.

*  Serve in large bowls, top with the bacon, then kale and a snow of parmesan.


“Fridge raid pasta” for BBC Radio Leicester



I came up with this recipe about 4 weeks ago for BBC Leicester on my regular slot with Ben Jackson  but it had completely slipped my mind to post it, it sometimes happens with myself as I do so many recipes in a week.  So I must post this now as sadly, our lovely British asparagus are now coming to an end for their season this year, but if  you did want to recreate this as it is, you should just manage to find some still around this week and maybe next. As for the peas though, they are now coming into season so you could even use fresh British ones. They would be brilliant for this recipe.

This was done literally how it says in the title. I let Ben look into my fridge, we picked out a few ingredients ( Seasonal too) and then I came up with a dish on the spot. It was to show people really how easy and quick it is to come up with a dish as great tasting and looking as this, just by using up things that are in your fridge! I suppose one would call this a “Ready steady cook” thing maybe? I love doing that and  I love to show people what they can acheive just from a few ingredients or leftovers they have. Say no to waste!
I cook meals like this quite regularly in the week, maybe not with the exact ingredients but I always ensure I have a bag of pasta in so I can create something like this. It’s also great having a jar of homemade Pesto in your fridge as that alone with pasta and a sprinkling of parmesan is a dish in itself.  It doesn’t have to be a wild garlic one, you could use a basil or another green vegetable/herb pesto. Creating dishes like this in under 15-20 minutes, you’ll never turn back.

Click this link and you can hear me making it on BBC Radio Leicester



Fridge raid pasta

(Serves 2 -3)

*One thing I must add for this recipe is that I can’t mark it as Vegetarian as it has Parmesan in my pesto recipe*
– Approximately 200g Fusilli Pasta or any pasta of your Choice
– 1/4 Leek sliced
– 2 Spring Onions chopped finely
– 2 cloves of Garlic
– 8 British Asparagus Spears, wood end cut off
– 5-6 British Purple Sprouting Broccoli Stems
– A handful of Petit Pois defrosted and drained or British Fresh podding Peas
– 1 Tbsp Of Wild Garlic Pesto or can use Basil Pesto
– Small Handful of Pea Shoots
– Cracked black Pepper
– Sea salt to season





*  Take of wood ends off the Asparagus and peel the outer layer at the bottom couple of inches and pop into Ice cold Water to keep them vivid green.

*  Chop Purple Sprouting broccoli into 3 and pop into the Ice cold water too.

*  In boiling water Cook the Asparagus and the Purple sprouting Broccoli for 2 minutes then plunge into Ice cold Water

*  Cook Pasta to packet instructions in the same Pan with boiling water used for the Veg.

*  Fry off your Onion, Leek and Garlic for a couple of Minutes adding a little Cracked Black pepper.

*  Chop your Asparagus into 3 and add them and the Purple Sprouting Broccoli, stir for a minute or two.

*  Drain your Pasta and keep a little water  to pop into the frying pan to add a little moisture. Add your Pasta to the Vegetable mix now.

*  Stir in your Pesto and cook for a minute making sure whilst stirring your pasta it is all coated with it.

*  Pop in your Peas, stir for 30 seconds and then add your pea shoots. Add a little Salt to season and you are ready to serve!




Roast Vegetable, Chilli and Parmesan quiche with wholemeal Spelt Pastry:

One Afternoon, sometime last week, I decided to drag out all the bits and bobs that needed to be used up in the fridge, as you do.  Well, I always do as I save everything! I cannot begin to throw anything away, even if it is a 1/4 of an onion as it all links with another Recipe!
  Anyway… I had numerous vegetables, cheese, milk, all sorts to use up so I decided to do a quiche but with Wholemeal Spelt Flour.  It turned out great! I loved it, My partner loved it, in fact both of us said that the aubergines in this recipe tasted brilliant and adding that red chilli, really gave it some “Pizzazz” to it. 

  I was amazed how much interest I had for this recipe. People made some really nice comments and have been asking me to put it up on my site.  So this delights me to say, By Popular demand, here is my recipe for…

Roast Vegetable, Chilli and Parmesan quiche with wholemeal Spelt Pastry:

* My Tin was approximately 9 inch wide by 2 inch deep. 
I cannot state this recipe as vegetarian as it has Parmesan in it. But you could substitute for another cheese or simply none at all! *


(Pastry *I froze half down)

–  250g Wholemeal Spelt pastry, (Sieved half as I wanted some “crunch/depth” to it)
–  150g Unsalted Butter cubed and softened
–  Pinch of Caster sugar
–  Pinch of Sea Salt
–  1 Egg
–  1 tbsp of cold Whole Milk


–  3 Medium Free Range Eggs
–  100 ml   Double Cream
–  100 ml  Whole Milk
–  Sprinkle of Ground Nutmeg
–  100g Parmesan Cheese 
–  Half and Aubergine Diced roughly
–  1 medium Onion Diced
–  6-8 small red and yellow tomatoes halved or quartered
–  1/4 green Pepper Diced
–  1/4 Red Chilli diced finely
–  3 leaves of fresh basil finely sliced
–  1/2 small green courgette finley sliced
–  Splash of Olive oil
–  Few dried herbs
–  Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper


*  Preheat Oven to 190c

*  Pop ingredients for your Pastry into a food processor and mix until dough forms a ball. Or if you prefer, you can do this by hand.

*  Place Pastry onto floured surface, knead slightly together, Cover with Cling Film and place in fridge until you want to use.

*  Roast all vegetables in oven with olive oil and dry Herbs.

*  Roll out Pastry to about 1/2 cm thick or if you can, slightly thinner.

*  Blind Bake Pastry for approximately 12- 15 minutes

*  Once Vegetables are cooked and Pastry is blind Baked, Pop your grated Parmesan into the pastry case, then vegetables, Everything else all in and bake in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes as different Ovens and Tins can make a big difference.

*  When your Quiche is cooked, allow to cool first before slicing into.

This is a great Quiche eaten Warm or cold. Ideal for a picnic and can be served with many different things.