Pasta with Beef Ragu

Pasta with Beef Ragu

A simple-to-prepare mince dish from “Quick and Easy”. This is a great recipe to prepare ahead of time, letting the flavours develop overnight. Then all you need to do is reheat it and cook the pasta.

Prep time = 10 minutes, Cooking time = 1 hour 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

• 100g streaky bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 bay leaf
• 800g minced beef
• 500ml/2 cups red wine
• 4 tablespoons tomato paste
• 400g tagliatelle pasta
• Freshly ground parmesan, to garnish

Method:

• Heat a large, deep frying pan. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook over medium-high for 2 minutes, or until soft and just starting to brown. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
• Add mince and stir for about 4 minutes, or until it browns, breaking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the wine, tomato paste and 1 cup / 250ml water and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 40 minutes, until reduced to a thick, glossy sauce.
• About 20 minutes before the ragu is ready, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain, serve the sauce over the pasta, and garnish with a little grated parmesan.

Tuna and White Bean Salad, with dill dressing

Tuna and White Bean Salad

I use those little cans of flavoured tuna for this, which is great because you can try different tuna flavours for a different twist on this salad.

Ingredients:

• 1 large red potato, diced
• 3 eggs
• 120g green beans, cut in half
• 200g canned tuna
• 400g canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 red salad onion, finely sliced
• ⅓ cup olive oil
• 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons diced dill
• 2 tablespoons diced parsley or coriander
• Salt and pepper

Method

• Boil potato in lightly salted water for about 12 minutes, until tender. Drain.
• Boil eggs for about 9 minutes to hard-boiled. Drain and remove shell.
• Steam or boil beans for about 2 minutes, to crisp and tender. Drain and cover with cold water. Set aside.
• Drain tuna and break into chunks.
• Combine potatoes, roughly chopped eggs, beans, tuna, cannellini beans and onion in a bowl and toss gently.
• In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, dill and parsley or coriander with generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and stir through.

Date and Cashew Caramel Slice

Date and Cashew Caramel Slice

My mum sent me this recipe from Nadia Lim’s blog, and I absolutely love it. It’s gluten-free, vegan, and sugar free, and yet it tastes absolutely amazing – I brought some into work recently for a morning tea, and everyone loved it. I’m usually reluctant to promote that a recipe is sugar-free or gluten-free vegan until people have tried it, since “sugar-free”, “gluten-free” and “vegan” can often be equated in the mind with “tastes like splenda-flavoured cardboard”. Please take my word for it that this recipe is delicious – it gets plenty of caramel flavour from the dates and maple syrup – and since you know it’s healthy you can feel free to go for seconds :D

Base:

• 1 ½ cup fine rolled oats or ground almonds
• 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
• 2 tablespoons cocoa
• 6 dates, pitted
• 1 cup raw almonds
• Pinch of salt
• 200g melted coconut oil (or butter)

Date and cashew caramel filling:

• 400g dried pitted dates
• ¾ cup boiling water
• 2 cups softened cashews (see note)
• ¼ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Chocolate and walnut topping:

• 150-200g good quality dark chocolate
• 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
• 1-2 tablespoons shredded coconut
• Optional: 1 teaspoon neutral flavoured oil, e.g. grape seed, walnut, hazelnut, canola, soy (this softens the chocolate so it doesn’t set too hard – do NOT use coconut oil or butter as this will make the chocolate set harder).

 

Method:

• Preheat oven to 180°C/360°F. Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of a square baking tin (20cm x 20cm) with baking paper.
• Place oats/ground almonds, coconut, cocoa, dates, almonds and salt in a food processor and blitz to a fine, crumbly texture. Drizzle in melted coconut oil/butter and pulse until well combined.
• Press mixture into the prepared baking tin, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon of spatula. Bake for 15 minutes.
• Make the caramel while the base cooks. Place dates and water in a medium-size pot and boil, stirring frequently, until the dates are very soft and mushed up, and all the water has evaporated. Place dates in the food processor along with the softened cashew nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil/butter and vanilla. Blitz until smooth (this will take a few minutes).
• Spread caramel over the base in the baking tin. Return to oven to bake for 10 minutes.
• Melt chocolate and mix in the oil if using. Pour melted chocolate over the filling and sprinkle walnuts and coconut over the top. Leave to cool overnight or for 3-4 hours in the fridge.
• Cut into about 25 pieces (I find it easier to cut upside down since the chocolate is the hardest layer to cut).

> To make softened cashews, either soak in water overnight, or boil in a pot of water for about 15 minutes. Drain well.
make softened cashews, either soak in water overnight, or boil in a pot of water for about 15 minutes. Drain well.

Polenta Chicken Caesar Salad

Polenta Chicken Caesar Salad

From Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals. As with most things I post here, you can be a bit flexible with the ingredients – salads can be a bit of a free-for-all, so consider the ingredient list as more of a guide. The salad dressing is delicious; I often make it in bulk to use it in other salads.

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 400g skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 heaped teaspoons polenta
  • Olive oil

Salad:

  • A ciabatta loaf
  • A clove of garlic
  • 2 red chicory
  • 4 slices smoked pancetta
  • 2 romaine lettuces
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large red peppers
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • A punnet of cress

Dressing:

  • A clove of garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 40g Parmesan cheese
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 4 heaped teaspoons natural yoghurt
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • A bunch of fresh basil

 

Method:

  • On a large sheet of paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper, the paprika and polenta.
  • Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken to roughly 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin.
  • Cook in a frying pan with oil, turning after three or four minutes, until golden and cooked through.
  • Cut four thick slices of ciabatta, place on a griddle pan, and remove when nicely charred on both sides.
  • Place the dressing ingredients into a food processer and blitz until smooth. Season to taste.
  • Rub the toasts with a halved garlic clove and cut into fingers.
  • Quarter the chicory and add to a griddle pan with the pancetta to char for a couple of minutes.
  • Roughly slice the lettuces and arrange over a large service board or platter.
  • Scatter the ciabatta, halve the tomatoes and slice the peppers, and add to the board.
  • Toss the chicory in a splash of balsamic vinegar and arrange on top.
  • Slice the chicken, lay it around the salad, and drizzle with the dressing. Crumble over the crispy pancetta and snip over the crests.
  • Shave over a little extra Parmesan to finish, if you like.

Zucchini Chips (gluten-free vegan)

Zucchini Chips This recipe, and the accompanying dipping sauce, is from Fork and Beans, a gluten-free vegan baking site. There are many ways you could spin the coating for the zucchinis; I’ve listed a few substitute options. The dipping sauce is made from sunflower seeds instead of cashews, so nut allergies aren’t a problem – joy for all! (Note that the sunflower seeds need to be soaked overnight – take this into account when you’re planning to make this recipe).

Zucchini Chips – Ingredients:

• Three medium zucchinis, sliced lengthwise into chips • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • 1 panko crumbs, breadcrumbs, or ricecrumbs • ½ cup hemp seeds, flax seed or cornstarch • 2 tablespoons dry quinoa, cous cous, or small-grained rice

Zucchini Chips – Method:

• Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. • In a shallow dish, whisk together the last three ingredients and set aside. • Place the sliced zucchinis into a large bowl, drizzle in the oil, and gently massage the oil into the zucchinis until all the pieces are coated. • Taking a few zucchini sticks at a time, place into the shallow dish and completely coat with the crumb mixture on all sides. • Place on the baking sheet. • Bake for 15 minutes and the flip the chips over. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Make the dipping sauce while the chips bake.

Sunflower seed herb dressing – Ingredients:

• ½ cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed. • ½ cup water. • ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk • 1 garlic clove, peeled • 1 teaspoon yeast • 1 tablespoon fresh dill • 1 teaspoon dried parsley, or a tablespoon fresh parsley • 1 teaspoon dried chives, or a tablespoon fresh chives • ¼ teaspoon onion powder • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder • Salt to flavour

Sunflower seed herb dressing – Method:

• Place the first five ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Add the herbs and blend on pulse until just mixed in. • Serve with the chips, and enjoy!

Food Truck’s Butter Chicken

This isn’t actually a new recipe, but I was never happy with the old photo I had of butter chicken. So I’ve taken a new one to replace it, in which the curry looks much more appetising! (And it’s a fantastic recipe so I wouldn’t want you to be put off it just because of inferior photography skills)

Butter Chicken

From “The Food Truck Cookbook”, this recipe is a healthier way to cook butter chicken (without compromising on taste). The peaches balance out the flavour of the spices but don’t give it a peachy taste, so it’s basically a hidden serving of fruit! And the yoghurt and coconut cream gives it a rich flavour without needing tonnes of butter. Delicious!

Ingredients – chicken + marinade

• 6 boneless chicken thighs, sliced into strips
• 3 tablespoons tomato purée
• 1 teaspoon mild chilli powder
• 4 tablespoons plain low-fat yoghurt

Ingredients – curry sauce

• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 2 shallots, chopped
• 3 tablespoons curry powder
• 3 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 cup diced, peeled peaches
• 400ml lite coconut cream
• 1 cup plain low-fat yoghurt
• 3 tablespoons butter (preferably almond butter)

• Rice, to serve

Method

• Mix chicken, tomato purée, chilli powder and yoghurt together and marinate for an hour. Drain.
• Heat a heavy-based frying pan. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Set aside.
• Heat oil in the frying pan. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a minute. Add shallots and cook for a further minute. Add curry powder and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and peaches and cook for another minute.
• Add coconut cream, yoghurt and butter, and simmer for a further four minutes.
• Add cooked chicken to sauce and reheat thoroughly.

• Serve with a side of rice.

Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini Pasta

 

I owe this recipe to my friend and fellow blogger Eleanor. It’s really tasty for such an easy meal – high output for little input (which makes it an ideal go-to for lunches). It’s really adaptable, and also freezes well.

This “recipe” is more of a recommended method; feel free to add or substitute ingredients as you like.

Ingredients:

• Pasta
• Crushed garlic
• Diced onion (red, brown, spring – whatever takes your fancy)
• Grated zucchini
• Lemon juice
• Grated cheese

Optional:
• Pre-cooked chicken
• Bacon

Method:

• Cook the pasta separately in boiling water.
• Fry the garlic and onion in butter or vegetable oil for two minutes, then add the grated zucchini and cook until soft.
• Mix with the drained pasta, and stir in grated cheese and lemon juice.
• If you want, add cooked chicken or bacon

• Enjoy!