Creamy mushroom and sausage courgetti

After falling off the wagon a bit recently with the diet, there’s been a bit of a low-carb theme this week with the Summer Rolls and the Cauliflower Pizza. This courgetti is also a good option. The cream sauces always tempt me but generally I try to avoid. This is so much lighter just using courgetti and doesn’t feel heavy at all. I do have a spiraliser that I don’t use enough but the success of this recipe made me feel inspired to use it more. You can get ones that are just like pencil sharpeners though and sometimes you can even find the pre-done noodles in the supermarket. This recipe was on BBC Good Food with standard pasta but I added some veggie sausages to make it more protein heavy and bulk it out a bit.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 4 veggie sausages
  • 4 rashers quorn bacon (honestly I don’t think this added much – I just had some in the house)
  • 2 courgettes
  • punnet mixed mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 100ml white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • 200g parmesan

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

2.) Line a baking tin and place on the veggie sausages

3.) When ready, stick the tin into the oven for the prescribed cooking time.

4.) Spiralise the two courgettes

5.) Heat some spray oil in a pan and sauté for 5 minutes or so then set aside.

6.) Chop up the mushrooms

7.) Melt the butter in the pan and add the mushrooms

8.) Let them start to brown, in the meantime, peel and chop up the onion and add to the pan. Cook until soft.

9.) While this is cooking, peel and finely chop the garlic. Chop up the quorn bacon.

10.) Once the onion is done, add the bacon and the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

11.) Add the wine to the pan and cook down until it’s mostly evaporated.

12.) While this is cooking, grate the parmesan

13.) When the wine has cooked down, add the cream and cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes

14.) Take the sausages out of the oven and chop them into biteable pieces. Add to the pan.

15.) Add the parmesan to the cream sauce and let it melt into the sauce

16.) Finally, add the courgetti to the pan and toss with the sauce.

Cauliflower Pizza

So if you overindulged at Easter but you still want to tuck in to some pizza, here’s the solution. The base of this thing is just basically cauliflower and egg. Obviously it’s not as good as a real bread based pizza but after visiting Naples and noticing the pure number of gluten-free options available there, maybe it’s not such a good idea to eat pasta and bread all the time. Load this up with your favourite toppings – I went for cheese, tuna and olives. Very un-Italian as it’s basically a sin over there to pair fish with cheese – something I categorically disagree with. I love the creaminess of the cheese with the salty fish, also great on a panini/toastie.

Serves 4 as a light meal with some salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower (mine was around 730g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp parmesan
  • 150g cheese (I went for mature cheddar – it’s a staple in my house)
  • Some kind of jarred tomato sauce
  • 1 tin tuna
  • 15 olives

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C

2.) Line a pizza tray with parchment paper (I used foil but had some issues with sticking)

3.) Roughly chop the cauliflower and blend in a food processor, it’s easier to do this in batches.

4.) Get a clean tea towel and spread it out, put the blitzed cauliflower in the middle of the towel. Scrunch up the tea towel and press out any excess water over the sink. I didn’t have a lot, it more just dampened the tea towel.

5.) Put the cauliflower into a microwave proof bowl and cook for 5 minutes.

6.) In another container, crack and beat the eggs.

7.) Grate the parmesan.

8.) When the cauliflower is done, add the parmesan and the onion powder. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

9.) Add the eggs and mix in.

10.) Tip the cauliflower onto the pizza tray and pat out to the shape of it.

11.) Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and firm.

12.) While the base is cooking, grate the cheddar, chop the olives roughly and open and drained the tinned tuna.

13.) Once the base is done, spread over the tomato sauce to cover, sprinkle over the cheese, tuna and olives

14.) Bake for a further 10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Mascarpone stuffed pasta shells

I always used to love these conchiglie shells when I was a kid. They taste like every other kind of pasta but have the bonus of catching the sauce inside. So this recipe is a nice comfort food for me (I guess I can’t blog about potato smileys!). A base of rich Bolognese sauce holding shells are stuffed with creamy indulgent mascarpone and mozzarella. I spotted the recipe on BBC Good Food but for me 250g pasta shells was too much pasta for the amount of mascarpone so in the recipe below I’ve cut it down to 200g. I also think you’d benefit more from the mozzarella being placed on top of the shells and grilled at the end rather than stuffed in the shells.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 200g giant pasta shells
  • 200g mascarpone
  • bunch basil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 30g parmesan
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • 250ml red wine
  • 400g quorn mince
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 400g passata
  • 200ml beef flavoured stock (or vegetable)
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method

1.) Put a kettle on to boil and measure out the pasta into a pan. Boil until soft but not too soft as you’ll have to handle them to stuff them. Leave them to one side so they cool enough to handle.

2.) Peel and finely chop the onion and carrot. Finely chop the celery. Make up the stock.

3.) Heat the tbsp oil in an ovenproof pan and add the veg and sauté until soft.

4.) In the meantime, peel and chop 3 of the cloves of garlic.

5.) When the veg is soft, add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute or two.

6.) Add in the mince and cook until it’s defrosted completely.

7.) Add the wine and continue to cook until it’s mostly evaporated

8.) Add the tomato purée and stir, add the bay leaves then add the passata and stock.

9.) Turn up the heat to a boil then turn down to simmer and simmer until the sauce is just a little less thick than you’d want for a normal Bolognese (about 40 minutes)

10.) In the meantime, stuff the pasta shells.

11.) Make the mixture for the pasta shells by adding the mascarpone to a bowl and beat it well.

12.) Peel and chop finely the garlic and add to the mascarpone. Also finely chop the mozzarella and the basil and give it a mix with the mascarpone.

13.) Fill up the pasta shells with the mascarpone mixture and set aside until the sauce is ready.

14.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/180 degrees fan

15.) Place the shells open side up on top of the tomato sauce and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until bubbling.

16.) While this is baking, grate the parmesan

17.) When done, sprinkle over the parmesan and serve.

Tomato and Mascarpone Risotto

I love a risotto as they’re so customisable and there’s hardly any washing up. If you’re a vegetarian in a restaurant, a bad mushroom risotto will for sure be one of your options. While a well cooked mushroom risotto is a fine thing, they should just go with this instead as it’s pretty fool proof. I found the recipe on the BBC good food website as a change from my usual mushroom and blue cheese concoction. Whilst the recipe only uses 30g mascarpone, the remaining would be great in some stuffed pasta shells. The other benefit is that I think I’ve finally mastered how to spell the word mascarpone.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 175g risotto rice
  • 400g passata (I used basil passata as I couldn’t find any basil to garnish this with)
  • 600ml stock
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 30g mascarpone
  • basil to garnish

1.) Peel and chop the onion

2.) Heat the oil in the pan and add the chopped onion

3.) While it’s cooking, peel and chop the garlic

4.) Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes on a low heat

5.) Add the rice to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes

6.) In the meantime, make up the 600ml stock

7.) Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir

8.) Add the stock to the pan in batches on a medium heat, letting each batch of stock cook down before adding the next one. I don’t find there is a need to constantly stir as per some recipes, just stir occasionally to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

9.) While this is cooking, grate the parmesan and measure out the mascarpone.

10.) Once the stock has all been added, check the rice is soft enough to eat, if not add a bit more water and carry on until done.

11.) Take off the heat and stir through the cheeses

12.) If you had more luck with obtaining basil, serve and garnish with the basil.

POlenta bean bake

I looooove polenta and my normal method of preparation is to just throw in a ton of butter and cheese and stick some ragu on top. However, I came across a recipe in ‘Two Greedy Italians eat Italy’ and felt inspired to try a new take on it. The two greedy Italians in question are Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. Carluccio’s was one of the better food chains in the UK and Gennaro is Jamie Oliver’s bestie. I went to a food festival run by Jamie Oliver once and will never forget Gennaro being asked what his favourite vegetable was and responding with epic enthusiasm ‘Iiia laaaava brocolli’ – that was my attempt at transcribing the Italian accent. This is a great tasty recipe for vegetarians as the beans provide the much-needed protein. Using quick cook polenta would probably have been a bit easier but I couldn’t find any.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tins haricot beans
  • spray oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 rashers plant based bacon
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 500g ready prepared polenta
  • 1 tbsp chicken flavoured stock
  • 10g parsley
  • 80g parmesan/fontina
  • salt

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) For the polenta, put the polenta in a pan and add 250ml boiling water and the stock powder. Simmer on a low heat for about 10 minutes.

3.) Peel and chop the carrot, leek and onion, chop up the stick of celery

4.) Fry the carrot, leek, onion and celery until soft.

5.) Chop up the fake bacon and add to the pan

6.) Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the pan with some salt. Cook until starting to break down.

7.) Grate the parmesan

8.) Mash up the polenta in the pan with a fork then use a whisk to combine the water and polenta. Add the cheese to the polenta.

9.) Drain the tins of beans and mix with the tomato mix.

10.) Chop up the parsley and add to the tomatoes and beans. Stir until all warmed through.

11.) Mix the tomato and bean mix with the polenta and pour the lot into a baking dish.

12.) Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. (My baking dish was quite deep but if it’s larger and more shallow, less time would be needed).

Pasta alla puttanesca

This week I saw an interesting article online about people who had decided to make their home into a time capsule of sorts with decor hailing from another era. I’ve always admired the high-glamour art deco era i.e. Great Gatsby and Poirot and we’ve incorporated some of the style into our living room but spending time there is not as if we’ve walked into the 30’s. The people in the article must have put in some serious effort!

Pasta alla puttanesca is my go-to pasta recipe – it uses mainly few store-cupboard ingredients that all pack a huge flavour punch. I will not post the meaning of puttanesca here but if you’re of a conservative mindset I recommend you do not google the translation. The recipe is from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals which I lost somewhere between moving houses but it’s a great book. Though in honesty, this is probably one of the few recipes that does take around 30 minutes to make.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 400g pasta
  • 1 tin tuna
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 10 olives
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp parmesan
  • 400g passata
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • parsley

Method

1.) Prep some of the ingredients for the sauce before you put your pasta on to boil. I used home-made pasta which I’d made a couple of weeks ago and dried out. I just have the one manual pasta roller so my pasta is always tagliatelle shaped but I’m sure you could use whatever. However if you have fresh pasta, it will take less time so it could be a good idea to start off the sauce before you put the pasta on.

2.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Drain the tin of tuna. Chop up the olives. Mince the anchovies (keep the oil).

3.) Put the pasta on to boil.

4.) Fry the garlic and the anchovies in the anchovy oil for a couple of minutes until the garlic is cooked.

5.) Add the tuna and stir around the pan to break it up.

6.) Pour in the passata and throw in the capers and olives. Cook down for a five minutes.

7.) Chop up the parsley.

8.) Grate the parmesan and combine it with the sauce. Sprinkle in the cinnamon.

9.) Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce.

10.) Stir the pasta through the sauce and sprinkle on the parsley.

This is my pasta – recipe to follow when it’s perfected!