The wind is just starting to calm down. Earlier it was howling around the outside of the house and the wind has a bitter chill to it. The weather is a little confusing somewhat at the moment as Spring is trying its best to break through. There’s even blossom on the trees already. Unless we are just left with bare branches from this storm!
Days like today need a bowl of comfort food for dinner and back in October last year I created this recipe that is perfect for today. I actually came up with it for my regular slot on BBC Radio Leicester for using up leftover Pumpkins but you could easily substitute it for Butternut squash. You will be able to knock this recipe up within 15 minutes. So stay warm and cozy away from Storm Gareth and I can guarantee you will be back for seconds.
- 2-3 tbsp rapeseed oil or oil of your choice
- 150g orzo pasta
- 1/4 medium sized pumpkin chopped into 1inch sized pieces
- 1 large red onion or 2 small red onions diced
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 slices of smoked bacon sliced
- A good sprig of fresh sage finely chopped
- 1/4 chicken gel stock pot
- 100 ml water roughly
- Handful of rocket chopped
- 50 g feta cheese crumbled
- handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- Preheat oven to 200 c fan. Place the pumpkin into a baking tray and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Cook for roughly 15 minutes or until starting to soften and sorting to brown around then edges.
- In a saucepan in water cook the Orzo to cooking instructions ( normally 10-15 mins)
- Then in a frying pan fry off in rapeseed oil the onion for about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute or two.
- Add in your bacon and fry off until cooked and browned around the edges.
- By this time the pumpkin will be done so add to the frying pan the pumpkin and stir. Cook for a further minute. Add in your orzo pasta.
- Then add in your sage, chicken stock and water, stir and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Add in your feta, stir and then add in your rocket and parsley and you are ready to serve.
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:
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
( 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!
- 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.
Wild garlic is at is peak now for foraging and should be in most places over the UK in flower. I Love wild garlic and this year I have been experimenting more with it. I think people who come into my kitchen recently must be sick of smelling it, or even on me for that matter! ( Never thought about that until now! ) Also what is coming up great in my kitchen garden are the herbs. My fennel has lasted all through winter and is still going strong.
One recipe that really stood out through developing was this one on how quick it takes to prepare and cook. Plus it is super healthy.
I don’t usually buy salmon purely on its cost and sustainability but I couldn’t get Loch trout which I would have used instead. I managed to find some Scottish salmon that was MSC certified which had a lovely taste.
Combining the lovely subtle fresh flavours of the wild garlic and herbs in the couscous makes this dish so light. I didn’t overpower the salmon either, just gives it a little gentle heat against everything else. This dish is perfect for lots of occasions and especially with Easter coming up it’s a lovely alternative if you don’t want to have Lamb or any other meats. One key factor to remember…Do not overcook the Salmon then it will keep it’s lovely flavour and just flake away nicely.
I paired this up with some lovely British tomatoes that look fantastic on the dish but if Im completely honest I don’t think they go with the rest of the dish. They have a beautiful taste roasted though. So that’s your choice on whether you put them on the dish or not.
- 2 responsilbly sourced Salmon fillets ( I used Scottish )
- 1 tsp of dry Harissa spice mix/rub ( I use Spice Kitchen )
- 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil
- Sprinkle of sea salt to season. I use pink himalayan salt on mine but any good quality will do.
Wild garlic and herb Couscous:
- 150g of Couscous ( you might even have more left over for Lunch the next day )
- 250ml of vegetable stock ( boiling water )or enough to just cover the Couscous
- a handful of freshly picked wild garlic leaves, stalks off, washed and finely chopped ( Chiffonade )
- A good handful of fresh herbs finely chopped such as: Chives, mint, green fennel or fronds of, chervil and parsley. If you can’t get the fennel or chervil use a little tarragon or dill.
- A little salt and cracked black pepper to season if needed.
- 1 small red onion roughly diced
- 1 small red pepper diced roughly
- 1 small yellow pepper roughly diced
- 1 stick of celery chopped roughly
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- Small handful of lemon thyme, (if you can’t get this use normal thyme and a little lemon zest at the end of roasting)
- Salt and cracked black pepper to season.
- British Vittoria tomatoes on the side ( optional )
- Preheat oven to 180c fan.
- Place vegetables in a roasting tin/dish with the lemon thyme and place in oven for 5 minutes.
- Place Salmon after 5 minutes in a roasting dish, smother the harissa and oil over it, season and place in the oven also for approximately 12-15 mins or when salmon is cooked.
- Continue cooking the vegetables also.
- Whilst these are in the oven together Pop your dry couscous into a bowl, cover with the vegetable stock and cover with cling film for 10 minutes. Leave aside.
- At this point pop your tomatoes in the oven if you want to use them.
- Then when all is ready in the oven, flake your couscous with a fork and will be fluffy at this point. Then add in your herbs and wild garlic, stir and leave to stand until all dished up together.
- Serve altogether and enjoy!