Polenta & Chicory

I’ve had a few chicory recipes that I’ve been wanting to try but I’d never been able to source the chicory. I started a subscription to Oddbox which delivers vegetables to your door that were otherwise unwanted and one week there was an add on for chicory. I fancied trying this recipe from Antonio Carluccio’s ‘The Collection’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 chicories
  • 1 stock cube
  • 400g polenta (block)
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic, chilli flakes and capers for 3 minutes.

2.) Add the chicory, 300ml water and the stock cube.

3.) Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

4.) In the meantime, slice up the polenta and then in a frying pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the slices of polenta. Fry the slices until golden brown then flip over and do the other side.

5.) Serve the chicory with slices of the polenta.

Ravioli with ricotta and sage

It’s been an ambition of mine to make ravioli for a while. I did buy a device that was like a tray with some indentations where you put over one sheet of pasta, put in the filling then put over another sheet of pasta and go over it with a rolling pin. This looked like a dream for someone who loves efficiency like me but went completely wrong so this time I used a glass to cut out the shapes on a friend’s recommendation. Sage is such a christmassy herb for me. In the UK we generally put it into ‘stuffing’ that we have with our christmas turkey (or on it’s own if you don’t eat meat like me). I think I have Christmas on the brain already because I just bought a Christmas crochet magazine and I’ve started making some things from it so that they’ll be ready for Christmas, one of those being ‘Ferdinand the fir tree’. Anyway, I think this would make a nice Christmas Eve meal.

Serves 4 as a main, more as a fancy starter

Ingredients

  • 300g ’00’ flour
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200g spinach
  • 1 lemon
  • nutmeg
  • 250g ricotta
  • 50g butter
  • handful safe leaves
  • 30g parmesan

Method

1.) First, to make the pasta, add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and crack in the two eggs. Add the two egg yolks.

2.) Mix from the inside out with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Sometimes I need to add a little water but if you need to only add a couple of drops at a time.

3.) Move the ball onto a worktop and knead for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s smooth. Then wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

4.) Whilst the pasta is resting, make the filling. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic for a couple of minutes. Then add the spinach and leave for a couple of minutes to wilt. Zest 1/2 a lemon and grate over some nutmeg into the pan. Tip all this into a bowl and leave to cool.

5.) Once the pasta has rested, prepare into sheets. I divide the pasta into four, roll so it’s thin enough to go through the widest setting on a pasta machine and put through twice, lower the setting by 1 put through twice and keep going with each of the quarters until you get to a middle setting.

6.) Lay out one of the sheets onto a worktop.

7.) Add the ricotta into the bowl with the spinach and lemon and stir everything to combine.

8.) Then spoon on heaped teaspoons of the ricotta 5cm apart. Brush around the ricotta with a little water then lay over another sheet of pasta.

9.) Push out any airholes to the side.

10.) Find a glass that has a rim large enough to go around the filling with about 1.5 cm around the side.

11.) Cut out the pasta with the glass and place the ravioli on a plate.

12.) Boil some water and add to a large saucepan. Turn up the heat and cook the ravioli for 2 – 3 minutes, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. You will probably need to do this in batches.

13.) Grate the parmesan. Melt the butter in a frying pan and tear in the sage leaves. Fry until they start to brown then add the ravioli. Sprinkle over the parmesan and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Fry for a couple of minutes or until the pasta is starting to brown a little. Serve and enjoy.

Green Gnocchi

It’s been a long time since I posted. I’ve been feeling a bit down and one of the big contributing factors is my job. I have a manager who is a complete control freak and likes to tell me the best way to do everything i.e. her way. Apparently it’s frustrating being challenged over 30p by the auditors but it’s equally valid to spend 40 minutes discussing a 30p ledger difference with me. Originally I took it to heart but now I’ve started to see the idiocy in it and have decided to find another job as soon as possible. With that and updating my CV and looking for jobs I haven’t really got round to blogging so it’s been a while since I made this gnocchi.

The first time I made gnocchi, I tried to make a butternut squash version which was a complete disaster as the squash was so wet I just couldn’t form the gnocchi. I went with a safer option this time – from ‘Carluccio – The Collection’, adding some spinach to the gnocchi, it’s easy enough to squeeze out the moisture. I decided to split the raw gnocchi in two and have some the following day but the gnocchi don’t keep very well in the fridge overnight so I recommend cooking the whole lot in one go or freezing.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g floury potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper or King Edwards if you’re UK based)
  • salt and pepper
  • 110g plain flour (plus extra to dust)
  • 200g spinach
  • 1 egg
  • 40g parmesan
  • 150g mozzarella
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • 500g passata
  • basil

Method

1.) Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Boil some water and add to a a large saucepan. Add the potatoes and cook with a pinch of salt until soft.

2.) In the meantime, cook the spinach in a frying pan until wilted then set aside to cool.

3.) Once the potatoes are soft, drain and push them through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, some salt and pepper and break in the egg.

4.) When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the water over the sink. The more you can get out, the better. Chop up the spinach and add to the bowl with the potato.

5.) Mix everything until it comes together. Dust a work surface with flour and take half the mixture. Roll it out into a log on the surface.

6.) Do the same with the other half of the mixture. Cut the logs up into 2.5cm pieces. Press the top of each piece with a fork to leave an imprint.

7.) Now, start to make the tomato sauce. In the frying pan, heat some oil and cook the garlic for a couple of minutes, add the passata and rip in some of the basil. Reserve some leaves as a garnish. Cook this on a low heat for 20 minutes.

8.) Grate the parmesan and chop up the mozzarella and set aside.

9.) After 15 minutes of the sauce cooking, start to cook the gnocchi. Boil some water and add to a large frying pan. Add the gnocchi and cook for a few minutes until the gnocchi rises to the surface. Scoop out the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce.

10.) Cook in the sauce for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the mozzarella. Serve the gnocchi with a garnish of parmesan and basil.

Pesto & goat cheese risotto

Just come back from holiday so got some catching up to do on blogging. I made this pesto and goat cheese risotto a while back using some dried pesto that I got from TK Maxx. I love perusing the food aisles in there and I have some parmesan truffle cream to find a use for. This recipe was on BBC Good Food – I’m really starting to wonder if I need a separate risotto tag on my blog.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp dried pesto
  • 100g goat cheese
  • 1 tin broad beans

Method

1.) Make up the stock

2.) Heat up a tbsp of oil in a saucepan then add the rice and the pesto.

3.) Toast the rice for 1 minute then add ladlefuls of the stock, simmering until the liquid mostly disappears

4.) Continue until all the stock has been absorbed

5.) Drain the tin of beans and add them to the pan

6.) Cook for a minute then add half the goat cheese, stir to dissolve in the risotto.

7.) Cut the remaining goat cheese into chunks. Serve the risotto and plate up the rest of the cheese.

Tagliatelle in tartare sauce

I was having Italian lessons up until a few weeks ago but with my company conference and having COVID I missed booking the most current course. It’s probably for the best as there was an older woman in the class who was a few steps behind everyone else and I wasn’t getting anything done in the breakout rooms when we were paired up. Also there was an Eastern European guy who kept pronouncing my name Gemma with a hard ‘g’ which was pretty annoying, especially given that my name is Italian. I have my Italian book for dummies and am doing a bit of duolingo to try and keep up until the next course in September. I found this pasta recipe in ‘Gino’s Pasta’ and it was not like anything I’d seen before so I was interested to try with the tartar. Maybe Gino created it after going to Norie’s fish and chip shop in Oban. We got some scampi and it did come with tartar sauce.

Anyway I did like the recipe and it’s very quick, particularly if you’re lazy like me and use pre-made fresh pasta.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 30g pickled onions
  • 30g pickled gherkins (or cornichons)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 15g butter
  • 75ml double cream
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 200g fresh tagliatelle
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 30g parmesan

Method

1.) Get the pasta ready to cook in a large saucepan. Boil some water.

2.) Grate the parmesan and dice the parsley finely and set aside. Chop up the onions and gherkins. Melt some butter in a large frying pan and add them along with the capers.

3.) Fry for 2 minutes then pour in the cream and spoon in the mustard and mix. Cook for 3 minutes and whilst this is cooking put the pasta onto boil.

4.) Add the yolk and sprinkle in the parsley and parmesan and stir. Cook for a further 15 seconds. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce.

Lentil Bolognese

For me, a classic Italian pasta with Ragu is a big comfort meal. Lentils provide all of the protein in the meal you lack from the minced beef/pork and have just a little bit of chew to mix up the texture. This recipe was from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. I take Italian lessons each week and I’ve learnt that when we ask for a panini it doesn’t make sense as panini is the plural form of sandwich – if you have Italian servers you want to impress, ask for a panino. Learning Italian, it was very difficult going on holiday recently to Spain. The basic phrases you need in both languages are very similar, so I was constantly muddling up the two! Bilbao was beautiful though and I fully recommend a trip and a taste of all their delicious pinxtos (bar snacks).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tin lentils (400g)
  • 10g fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 100ml water
  • 320g pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g hard cheese
  • 10g parsley

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the garlic and the onions. Strip the leaves from the thyme. Bash the walnuts in a pestle and mortar.

2.) Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.

3.) Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

4.) Add the tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, walnuts, lentils, red wine, chilli, oregano, thyme, marmite and water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes to thicken.

5.) Whilst this is cooking, grate the cheese, Chop up the parsley and cook the pasta. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta with some sauce, sprinkle over the cheese and parsley.