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.




wild rice pilaf

Pilaf is a rice dish that is cooked in stock or broth, adding spices and meat or vegetables. I think quite similar to a fried rice, without the egg, obviously.
For this dish I cheated a bit and bought ready-to-eat wild rice that I added to my fried vegetables. This really saved me a lot of time that allowed me to focus on other things like dessert and a bottle of good red wine.

I used vegetables that I had in my fridge, making this a fairly ‘rule-free’ recipe. I don’t, however, suggest using root veggies here. Keep it simple with ingredients that cook fairly quickly, similar to stir fry vegetables.

A delicious side dish or light meal.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
250g cooked wild rice
2 carrots, julienne
2 zucchini, cubed
200g button mushrooms, quartered
1/3C slivered almonds, toasted
3T soy sauce
handful fresh parsley & coriander, finely chopped
1t ground cumin
1/2t ground coriander
2T olive oil
3T butter
1 spring onion, sliced (optional)

how to
In a large skillet, melt the olive oil & 1 tablespoon butter. Saute the onion & garlic until translucent. About 4 minutes. Add the ground cumin & coriander, stir and cook for 1 minute.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, zucchini & mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and julienne carrots, stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the soy sauce and almonds and cook for a further 3 minutes while stirring.
Stir the parsley & coriander through the rice mixture.

Garnish with sliced spring onion or coriander leaves.



red pork curry

I love and enjoy a good, strong curry and since I had pork neck steak in my freezer, I gave a delicious shop bought red curry paste a go for this dish.
Rich in flavour with very tender cubes of meat, this a simple recipe and one I will definitely be returning to. Very, very soon.
I served couscous, natural yogurt and lots of fresh coriander as sides to the curry. Delicious alternatives are noodles, pineapple or mango salsa or sticky rice.

Fragrantly delicious, this easy one pot meal brought back fond memories of Thailand holidays.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
900g pork neck, cubed
1 white onion, fine dice
1/4C white wine
4 garlic cloves, diced
2T red curry paste
2t grated ginger
1T fish sauce
1T brown sugar
1 can (400g) crushed tomato
200ml chicken/vegetable stock
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
good grind of black pepper
200g baby corn, halved diagonally
handful fresh coriander (cilantro), for garnish
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally, for garnish
2T olive oil, for browning meat + 2T extra
knob of butter

method
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the meat in batches until browned on all sides. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and knob of butter without wiping the pot clean.
Sauté the onion and garlic until glossy, taking care not to burn the onion. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and reduce completely while scraping the bits of the bottom of the pot.
Add the curry paste, ginger and brown sugar, stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomato, fish sauce, vegetable stock & lemon juice, stir and bring to a light boil. Carefully tip the cubed pork back into the pot, stir and bring to a simmer.
Pour half of the coconut milk into the pot, cover with a lid but leave a small gap, and gently simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Pour the remaining half of the coconut milk into the pot, add the lemon zest and baby corn and cook for a further 20 minutes, uncovered until the meat is beautifully tender.
Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Garnish with coriander and spring onion.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



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.



spicy roasted mackerel

A dish that is just absolutely delicious, boasting amazing flavour and taste! A healthy meal that is really as easy to make as it is to eat. A great recipe for busy days and the perfect dish when catering for a crowd on a beautiful sunny day. Great, healthy eating simply cannot get easier than this!
Mackerel is an oily fish and a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which improve endurance, aid recovery and help to maintain healthy, beautiful skin.
Serve these delicious mackerel fillets with salad, buttery green vegetables, crushed potato or couscous and a creamy vinaigrette.

Adapt the recipe to serve more.

ingredients | serves 2 | easy
4-6 mackerel fillets
2t paprika
1t cumin seeds
1/2t cayenne pepper
1t turmeric powder
3 garlic cloves
1t coriander seeds
1 small red chilli (optional)
1/4C olive oil
bunch fresh parsley
salt
black pepper

method
Preheat the oven to 200C/180 with fan.
In a pestle & mortar or electric blender, combine all of the spices, garlic, parsley & olive oil. Blend to a chunky, spreadable paste.
Lie the mackerel fillets skin side down on a clean work surface and spread the spicy mixture over the flesh.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lie the fillets flesh side down onto the paper.
Season the skin with salt & a good grind of black pepper.
Roast for 8-10 minutes until the skin is beautifully crispy and the fish is cooked through.

Serve warm drizzled with a sauce / vinaigrette of your choice.