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.



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.


smoked haddock ‘arancini’

Arancini is a very popular and favourite Italian snack, which is made of risotto & mozzarella with the addition of beef and peas. It is shaped into a ball, crumbed and deep fried.
I love haddock and had plenty of rice in my freezer so this is my version of arancini, which is fairly different to the original but I promise you, just as delicious!

These freeze really well, so pack it onto a tray, place it into the freezer for a couple of hours and then bag them in freezer friendly bags. Thaw overnight before dredging in flour, egg & crumbs and deep frying.

Serve these with a salad or sliced avocado and a dipping sauce of your choice.

ingredients | makes about 18 | a little effort
300g smoked haddock
1C milk
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
2 1/2 C cooked long grain rice
1C grated white cheddar
1C frozen peas
bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1t dried dill
1T fish sauce
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
1T olive oil
1T butter

to fry
2C panko crumbs
2 eggs, whisked with about 3 tablespoons milk
1/2C plain flour
cooking oil, for frying

method
In a small skillet, heat the milk and poach the haddock for about 8 minutes, turning halfway. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a small pan and sauté the onion & garlic until cooked. About 3 minutes. Add peas, stir to coat and cook for 1 more minute.
Tip the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of the poaching milk to the rice.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the rice except the frying ingredients.
Flake the cooked haddock into the rice mixture, add the onions and peas and now mix well, using your hands. The mixture must just come together to hold its shape. If you feel it is too wet, add a little more of the fine breadcrumbs.
Shape into golf size balls. Set aside.

In a deep, medium sized pot, heat enough oil to come about halfway up the rice balls.

In three separate bowls, prepare the panko crumbs, beaten egg and flour.
Roll each ball into the flour, then in the beaten egg and lastly coat with the panko crumbs. Repeat until you have coated each rice ball.

Carefully drop the rice balls in batches of about 4 into the hot oil and fry for about two minutes a side until beautifully browned and crisp.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel paper.

Serve warm.




cumin baked chicken

Cumin, a spice often used in my kitchen for various dishes, is an earthy, warm spice that adds the most beautiful hearty depth to any dish. A delicious match for meat, it also adds complexity to vegetarian dishes.

As part of last night’s dinner, I served these flavourful baked thighs and drumsticks with my lentil and grilled vegetable salad. This is a delicious and healthy dish that is as easy to prepare as it is to eat. With the skin moreishly crispy, the meat is succulent , tender and flavourful. A perfect and easy family go-to meal!

Serve with couscous, salad or grilled vegetables for a healthy family mid-week meal or serve it with a cucumber & yogurt dressing for a delicious, heart warming snack.

ingredients | serves 3-4 | easy
8 chicken thighs & drumsticks
2t crushed garlic
2t ground cumin
1t cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
1T black pepper
1/3C olive oil
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2t red pepper flakes, optional
fresh cilantro/coriander to serve

method
Place all of the ingredients into a large freezer bag and shake well to coat.
Place the bag into the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking tray, season with a little salt and bake for about 40 minutes until cooked through.

Drizzle the roasting juices over the chicken pieces and garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve warm.