beef sausage lasagna bake with orecchiette

One of the things I so love about cooking is finding inspiration from items I have in my fridge or freezer. A simpler version of lasagna using beef sausage, vegetables and orecchiette pasta, this dish cooks a little faster than your traditional lasagna as the pasta is cooked before adding it to the meat sauce.
Because sausages are packed with so much beautiful flavour I always remove the casing to enhance the dish. I used orecchiette pasta but any other pasta like penne, rigatoni or fusilli are great alternatives.

Serve this comforting meal with a simple garden or avocado salad and shavings of parmesan.
A delicious, budget friendly family meal!

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
600g beef sausage
1/2 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
150g button mushrooms, quartered
2 zucchini, grated
1t dried oregano
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
2T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
1T paprika
2T brown sugar
1C cherry tomatoes, whole
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1t salt
good grind of black pepper
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
2T olive oil
1T butter
2C grated cheddar
3C orecchiette pasta, cooked according to package intstructions

white sauce
35g butter
4T flour
2.5-3C milk
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper

method
Preheat the oven to 190C/170 with fan.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large, ovenproof skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until glossy. Remove the sausage meat from the casings by pressing it out, into the hot pan, like little meatballs. Discard the sausage casings and brown the meat all over. About 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
Add the grated zucchini, rosemary, paprika, oregano, sugar, salt & pepper, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the crushed tomato into the pan and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the cherry tomatoes, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the parsley through the mixture. Set aside.

make the white sauce
Melt the butter in a small pot on medium heat. Add the flour and mix using a wooden spoon.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using a whisk, add the milk while rapidly whisking. Place the pot back onto the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Leave to gently simmer for about 10 minutes, while stirring. Add more milk if the sauce is too thick. (You must have a pourable sauce.)
Season with the salt & pepper.

assemble
Spoon the cooked orecchiette pasta onto the meat sauce. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and top with the grated cheddar cheese and thyme leaves.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until browned on top.




prawns & linguine with tomatoes & vodka

I am all for good food and even more so when it doesn’t take hours to prepare and only needs a few ingredients. This is a simple recipe using cooked, shelled prawns. My choice of pasta was linguine but really, any noodle kind of pasta will work well here.
This is a great meal for either lunch or dinner and since I think it is so aesthetically pleasing, this is most definitely a meal that I will serve to a crowd.
Full marks on taste and looks! Serve with a rocket & avocado salad and extra lemon wedges.

I forgot to add half a cup of frozen peas. Should you remember, this will add a lovely element to an already delicious dish.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
300g cooked, shelled prawns, halved
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2t red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomato
1/4C vodka
1/2t dried dill
2T tomato paste
1T brown sugar
1 fish stock
1/2C cream, full fat
bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
salt to taste
good grind of black pepper
parmesan to serve
300-400g linguine, cooked accordingly
2T olive oil
2T butter

how to
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet and saute the onion & garlic until translucent and aromatic.
Pour the vodka into the skillet and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. About 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, brown sugar and dried dill, red pepper flakes, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
Pour the stock, lemon juice & crushed tomato into the pan and cook until slightly thickened.
Add the cooked prawns & cream and stir to coat. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
Tip the cooked pasta into the sauce, toss to coat and cook for a few minutes until warmed through.
Add the lemon zest and fresh herbs and toss.
Garnish with finely grated parmesan.



zesty anchovy, garlic & chilli linguine

I originally made this delicious dish with tagliatelle and then made it again for lunch yesterday….with linguine. They are both equally moreish and perfectly suited to the ingredients. Spaghetti is another great alternative!
If I was asked what my favourite pasta was I would have to say this one.
Besides anchovies being undeniably fishy, they are also incredibly salty, and I love salt. They add beautiful complexity to any dish or sauce and have a rich, umami flavour.

Served whole, chopped or emulsified into a sauce, this is one ingredient I always have in my kitchen.

This pasta is undeniably a delicious, simple and flavourful meal that you will return to again and again.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
300g-400g linguine, cooked according to package instructions
2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped
12-16 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
zest and juice of 2 medium sized lemons
3t finely chopped garlic
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
bunch fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped
bunch chives, chopped
2T olive oil
2t anchovy oil
1T butter
black pepper
finely grated parmesan, to serve

how to
Heat the olive oil, anchovy oil and butter in a large skillet and cook the garlic on a low heat, while stirring, until cooked. Take care not to burn the garlic.
Turn off the heat and tip the cooked pasta into the garlic and oil mixture. Toss.
Add the remaining ingredients except the parmesan and toss to coat.

Serve with lots of parmesan and more black pepper on the side.


parmesan loaded meatball & orecchiette skillet

As pastas go I don’t have one specific favorite. I love all kinds, for very different reasons.
The general rule of thumb is that wide, flat pastas like pappardelle or tagliatelle love cream based sauces and long, round pastas, like spaghetti, are best served with a good drizzle of olive oil or draped in tomato based sauces, which beautifully coats each strand evenly.
“Rigate” means ridges, which makes it easy for sauces like pesto to cling to the pasta.
Short shaped pasta varieties, which includes orecchiette, are ideal for holding rich, hearty sauces with textures from vegetables or proteins.

Since making meatballs can be a little time consuming I make it worth my while by making two batches. One to use immediately and the other to freeze for a different occasion or dish. They freeze really well and bake beautifully straight from frozen.

These mini meatballs are packed with parmesan and herbs giving them a lot of flavor so they are perfect on their own as a snack or canape, served with spaghetti or in a beautiful creamy pasta dish such as this one.

ingredients | makes about 30-35 mini meatballs | a little effort
500g beef mince
1/2 white onion, very finely chopped
1t finely chopped garlic
5 thyme stalks, leaves only
2 rosemary stalks, leaves finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2C finely grated parmesan
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
1 whole egg
1T worcester sauce
2T chutney (I used Mrs Balls, original)
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
2-3T olive oil for frying

for the sauce
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1t crushed garlic
3T sun-dried tomato pesto (optional)
1 can crushed tomato
1 1/2C – 2C beef stock
1 1/2t dried oregano
1T brown sugar
1t fine salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2C orecchiette pasta shells
1/2C cream, full fat
fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro, garnish
fresh parmesan, garnish

the method
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in large bowl. Using your hands, mix well until combined and then, with the palms of your hands, roll into balls just larger than bite size.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat and melt the butter and cook the onion until glossy. About two minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the oregano & pesto and cook for another minute, while stirring.
Pour the beef stock & crushed tomato into the skillet, add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir. Add the pasta shells, stir to coat and then nestle the meatballs into the sauce.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until the pasta is cooked. Stir the cream through the pasta mixture.

Garnish with fresh parsley & cilantro and top with large shavings of parmesan.



roast chicken tagliatelle – simple & delicious

This a one of my go-to meals when I am entertaining a few friends for a casual lunch or when I simply feel like being a lazy cook.
There is just not enough hours in a day and although I really love spending time in my kitchen i also really love spending time with my toddler. That said, I may not always have time to prepare an extravagant meal although I still want to eat well.
Delicious on its own or served with a salad, this is one dish you will return to again and again.
Although the oven does the work for you, the roasting of the chicken is what takes the most time here so if you are really pressed for time, why not pop in at your local grocer and buy a ready cooked chicken, which will save you plenty of time and unnecessary stress.

I used tagliatelle in this recipe. Other great pasta options are pappardelle & rigatoni.
Potato gnocchi is a delicious alternative to the pasta.

ingredients | serves 6-8 | easy
to roast the chicken
1 whole chicken
olive oil
salt
pepper

2T olive oil
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3t crushed garlic
400g tagliatelle pasta
200g shitake mushroom, sliced
100g button mushrooms, sliced
1/3C cream, optional
1/2t salt
black pepper
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
two handfuls fresh parsley, torn
fresh parmesan, optional

method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Rub the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt & pepper.
Place the chicken into the oven and roast for 1 hour thirty minutes. Once cooked, set aside and reserve the cooking juices.

While the chicken is roasting, get on with the pasta.
Add the pasta to salted boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet and saute the onion until glossy. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet and cook for about eight minutes or until cooked, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme leaves and cream and stir through. Season with salt & pepper.

Drain the pasta and tip it into the mushroom mixture. Toss to coat. Using your hands, tear the chicken into the pasta.
Pour the cooking juices over the pasta & chicken mixture and toss everything together.
Garnish with the parsley and parmesan cheese, if using.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x