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Posts Tagged ‘Basil’

Tuna cooked in lentils

This really is the perfect dish by Joe Trivelli. Chunky pieces of tuna, earthy lentils and sweet tomatoes. We really recommend this one.

Wine Suggestion: Chill down a Grignolino, a red from Piedmont, and you’ve got a joyful  match. A friend brings in Olim Bauda’s version which is excellent, but we’re conscious this is a hard grape to find so if you can’t find one try a chilled, youthful Beaujolais or a Dolcetto.

Tuna Cooked in Lentils – serves 4

  • 200g dried lentils
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 350g thick tuna steak, cut into 3 cm chunks
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • small bunch of basil leaves
  • 40g butter
  • 1 lemon
  • best extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the lentils and cook in water until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain.

Season the flour with salt and stir in the crushed coriander seeds. Lightly dust the tuna in the flour mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic until golden. Remove the garlic from the pan and add the tuna. Turn quickly, then add the tomatoes and basil, followed by the lentils. Toss a few times, then turn off the heat. Put the butter on top and leave in the pan for 8 minutes, basting the tuna with the lentils. Squeeze over some lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials, 2018.)

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Caprese pasta salad

We regularly have a caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella & basil) for lunch in the summer months. This pasta version is a good one and makes it a bit more substantial.

Caprese pasta salad – serves 4

  • 200g orecchiette, cooked and rinsed under cold water, then drained again
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 150g baby plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 150g bocconcini (mini mozzarella) or a ball of mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • a bunch of basil, shredded

Put the cooked pasta into a serving bowl with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and tomatoes, then season and toss.

Add the avocado, bocconcini and basil. Toss again gently and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, July 2018.)

 

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BBQ Lamb with Courgettes, Mangetout & Feta Salad

We love this time of year when all the local produce arrives in dribs and drabs. Last week our local farm shop had little courgettes and mangetout – the excitement!

Wine Suggestion: a lighter, youthful red with medium, dry tannins and freshness for the lamb. A young Sangiovese from a good vineyard or good cru Beaujolais come to mind straight away.

BBQ lamb with courgettes, mangetout & feta salad – serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 small lamb chops or cutlets
  • 2 small courgettes, sliced into rounds, about 1cm thick
  • 200g mangetout
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • small handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • small handful basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 25g feta, crumbled

Season the lamb chops all over with black pepper and fine sea salt. Mix a tbsp of the olive oil with the chopped thyme and brush over the lamb.

Heat the barbecue and cook the chops for a few minutes on each side, we don’t mind them rare in the middle but we like them to be well-seared and crispy on the outside. Remove to a plate, and leave to rest, covered in foil.

Brush the courgette with a little oil and season. Cook these on the barbecue (if you have a griddle pan you can set it on the barbecue and cook them on this so they don’t fall through the bars). You might need a couple of batches.

Meanwhile, cook the mangetout for a couple of minutes in boiling salty water, then drain and tip into a large bowl with the courgettes.

Mix the vinegar, mustard, chilli flakes, mint & basil together to make a dressing. Toss the veg in the dressing and crumble over the feta to serve. Pile onto plates with the lamb chops.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Classic Basil Pesto

Basil has come into season and is plentiful so we had to make a pesto. There’s likely to be a second batch next week too! We make pesto in a pestle and mortar but you could also use a food processor.

Pesto – enough to serve 4 with pasta

  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 25g Parmesan

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly coloured, then remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Pound the basil in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt, some coarse ground black pepper and the garlic. When the basil has broken down, add the pine nuts and pound until finely crushed. Stir in the oil and Parmesan, then season to taste. Cover with a layer of oil and store in the fridge.

(Original recipe from the Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017).

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Risotto Primavera

This risotto isn’t laden with cheese and butter like so many other recipes and so a good option for a weeknight and full of Spring flavours. We left out the chives and rocket as we didn’t have them but we’ve kept them in the recipe as they would make nice additions.

Wine Suggestion: this was delightful with a young white Muscadet from Domaine de la Chauviniere, but we can see it working with youthful Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner as well.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 350g asparagus, snap of the woody ends and cut into 5cm lengths on the diagonal
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 250g frozen broad beans
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.7 litres vegetable stock (we used Marigold vegetable bouillon)
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 25g rocket leaves, to garnish

Heat half the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Stir-fry the asparagus over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until browned all over. Add the scallions and fry for another minute or two until browned. Remove these with a slotted spoon, season with pepper, and set aside.

Cook the peas and broad beans in separate pans of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain. Pop the broad beans out of their skins and set both aside.

Mix the basil, chives, mint and lemon zest together in a small bowl and season with pepper.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep over a very low heat.

Pour the rest of the oil into the pan that you used to cook the asparagus. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two over a medium-high heat or until it starts to sizzle.

Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Now start gradually adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep adding stock for about 20 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Season with pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add an extra ladle of stock, then scatter over the vegetables, some pepper, half the herb & lemon mixture and half the cheese. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently stir to combine, then serve in warmed bowls some rocket and the rest of the herbs and cheese sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Radiatori with Sausage & Saffron

We’re getting a new kitchen and currently trying to clear the cupboards of as many ingredients as possible to save us having to pack them away. I don’t know why we bought a bag of radiatori pasta, maybe we just liked the look of it, but a quick flick of the books turned up the perfect recipe. Do find Italian sausages if you can (we used luganega but you can often find good pork and fennel ones too) as they’re a lot denser than our traditional sausages. Gone are the days when we used to beg Italian restaurants to sell us some!

Wine suggestion: the saffron gives this dish a refinement and character a little different to some other Italian / pasta recipes and we think that the newly classic wines of the Tuscan coast, specifically Bolgheri and northern Maremma suit the dish really well. For sheer value we’d open a bottle Argentiera’s Poggio ai Ginepri which is Cabernet Sauvignon led. However, if you can stretch further then the Cabernet Franc led wines of Biserno, like their il Pino would make this dish feel like a proper event – as all Friday night dishes should be!

Radiatori with Sausage & Saffron – serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a large onion, roughly chopped
  • 500g Italian sausages, remove the skins and break up the meat with your hands
  • ¼ tsp of saffron threads
  • 600ml passata
  • 500g radiatori pasta
  • basil & grated pecorino (to serve)

Warm the oil in a heavy casserole. Add the onion with a pinch of sea salt and cook over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Turn the heat up, then add the sausagemeat, keep breaking it up with your spoon if needed, and stir until it loses its raw appearance, then add the saffron and passata. Bring to a bubble and turn the heat down low and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

Place a lid on the casserole and turn off the heat, then cook the pasta in lots of boiling, salty water for the time on the packet. Reserve a few ladlefuls of pasta water before you drain it.

Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss together, adding a bit of pasta water to help it come together if needed. Serve sprinkled with basil and pecorino.

(Original  recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

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Spaghetti with Ricotta & Toasted Pine Nuts

Mondays are all about leftovers in our house and we’re determined to use all bits and pieces hanging around after the weekend. This pasta dish helped us out with the remains of a jar of sundried tomatoes and some ricotta cheese. Also great to use the chives that have recently sprouted up in the garden – a positive sign of things to come.

Wine Suggestion: Look for a good Verdicchio with a fuller body, but still fresh and balanced. Tonight an old favourite, the Sartarelli Tralivio.

Spaghetti with Ricotta Cheese & Toasted Pine Nuts – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 6 tbsp pine nuts
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 100g sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 500g spaghetti

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden brown, then set aside.

Put the ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes, chives, nutmeg, pine nuts and basil into a large bowl. Pour over the oil and hot water, season with salt and pepper, and mix together. Leave to rest at room temperature while you cook the pasta.

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salty water until al dente. Drain and tip into the bowl with the ricotta mixture (don’t be too particular when draining as a little water will help to loosen the sauce). Gently fold everything together for 30 seconds to combine. Serve with the extra basil.

(Original recipe from Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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Chicken with tomatoes, mozzarella & basilWe love easy ideas like this for adding extra interest to some chicken fillets mid-week. Serve with warm crusty bread and green salad.

Wine Suggestion: your choice of youthful, lighter Italian red; our choice tonight was the refined and under-rated Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Rosso, but almost chose a Chianti. Both would be good.

Chicken breasts with tomatoes, mozzarella & basil – serves 4

  • 4 chicken skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
  • 10 basil leaves, plus a few extra to garnish
  • 3 x 125 mozzarella balls, drained and sliced (don’t use buffalo mozzarella for this)

Slash each of the the chicken breasts four times with a sharp knife, cutting to the middle.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the garlic and chicken for 2 minutes on each side or until golden all over.

Tip in the cherry tomatoes with the basil and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, uncovered, over a medium heat for 12 minutes, turning the chicken breasts over halfway through.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Take the pan off the heat and put the mozzarella slices on top of the chicken breasts. Grind over some black pepper and put the pan under the grill for a minute or until the cheese starts to melt.

Pour some sauce onto each plate, top with a piece of chicken and garnish with the extra basil.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

 

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Tomato, onion & pepper tart

This tart is bursting with summer flavours and the pastry is fabulously light and crisp. Delicious for lunch with a green salad.

Wine Suggestion: We drank the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo with this; unoaked, fresh and vibrant, especially as we’d put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. While not weighty or serious it does have loads of depth and length… perfect for this dish.

Warm tomato, mustard & gruyère tart – serves 4

  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled, halved & sliced
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 100g gruyère cheese, grated
  • 4-5 vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • a handful of black olives, pitted and halved
  • a small handful of basil leaves

PASTRY:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter
  • 50g Grana Padano or Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 egg

First make the pastry by whizzing the flour and butter in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese, then the egg and bring together to make a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

To make the filling, cook the pepper and onion in a tbsp of olive oil for about 15 minutes or until very soft, then season.

Heat the oven to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas 5.

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a euro. Line a shallow tart tin (about 23cm) with the pastry, fill with baking parchment and beans, and blind bake for 10 minutes. Take out the paper and beans and bake for another 5 minutes.

Allow the pastry case to cool a little, then spread the base with the Dijon and sprinkle over the Gruyère. Top with the pepper mixture, then a layer of tomato slices and the olives. Season really well and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and the pastry crisp. Scatter the basil over before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, September 2009.)

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Creamy marscapone tortellini

Because we had leftover marscapone … we love using leftover ingredients. It’s ok to cheat sometimes with some shop-bought fresh tortellini and the result is dinner in minutes!

Wine Suggestion: this works with young, fresh red wines. If you feel like Italian then the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo which is unoaked and vibrantly full of fruit is a good choice. We, however, threw a Pike & Joyce Rapide (unoaked) Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills into the fridge for 30 minutes. A good match too.

Tortellini with Creamy Tomato & Mascarpone Sauce – serves 2-4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (we never are without Marigold Swiss Bouillon) or ½ cumbled stock cube
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • few basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone plus a bit extra
  • fresh tortellni – we used spinach & ricotta

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic and gently fry for 1 minute. Add the tin of tomatoes, the stock powder, tomato purée and sugar, then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Tear in the basil leaves and stir in the 2 tbsp of mascarpone.

Meanwhile, cook the tortellini in boiling salted water as per the timing on the pack, then drain well and tip into a small ovenproof dish.

Pour the sauce over the tortellini and top with a few more spoonfuls of mascarpone, then bake until bubbling at the edges.

(Original recipe by Gareth Morgans IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, August 2008.)

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Pistachio pesto

Our fabulous friends have a weekender in the country with loads of space for growing herbs and veg. We are the very happy recipients when there’s more produce than one family can eat and we put it to good use. So if you have a prolific bed/windowsill with parsley and basil growing you should make this delicious variation on classic pesto. It’s especially good with roast chicken (drumsticks for us) but would also be nice with fish or vegetables.

Pistachio Pesto – serves 4

  • 50g pistachios
  • 25g flatleaf parsley leaves
  • 25g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 100ml olive oil

Put the nuts in a bowl and cover with just-boiled water. Leave for a few minutes then drain and tip onto a clean tea towel. Give the nuts a good rub with the tea towel and skins should slip off. Throw the skins away and save the bright green nuts.

Put the nuts in a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat until lightly coloured all over and smelling fab. Keep a watchful eye as they can turn from toasty to burnt in an instant. Put the nuts on a plate to cool.

Put the herbs and pistachios in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped (you could pound in a pestle and mortar but parsley is much more difficult to pound than basil so we recommend the processor if you have one). Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse briefly – you want to leave a bit of texture. Taste and season. Cover with oil and put in the fridge until needed.

(Original recipe from ‘The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure’ by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

 

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Lemon & basil linguine

Sometimes the simplest of ideas turn out the best.

Wine Suggestion: we had a glass of the Adi Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc which he’s now experimenting with a little bit of skin contact. We don’t disagree, it adds a touch of extra texture and complexity to such a great value wine.

Lemon & basil linguine – serves 2

  • 200g linguine
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 75ml good olive oil
  • 75g Parmesan
  • a large handful of basil leaves

Put a large pan of water on to boil, add loads of salt and cook the pasta according to the time suggested on the packet.

Put the lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan into a large warmed bowl and beat with a small whisk to combine and thicken. Tear the basil leaves into the bowl and add plenty of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and toss with the mixture in the bowl.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries  by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2005.)

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Smoky Chorizo Salmon

It’s still cold but there’s a bit of sunshine and promise of warm spring days to come. We can’t wait for the spring veg to start but this bright dish is not a bad compromise.

Wine Suggestion: in the mood for Spring we chose the Chateau Vignelaure, La Source Rosé which we often find a good match for salmon and it came through yet again. Vibrant, fresh fruit and a long dry finish.

Smoky Chorizo Salmon – serves 2

  • 2 x 150g salmon fillets, skin on
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 8 black olives, remove stones and finely chop
  • 30g chorizo, finely sliced

Put the salmon in a large cold non-stick frying pan with the flesh side down. Put over a medium-high heat and cook for about 3 minutes or until it is sizzling underneath. Flip the salmon over on to the skin side and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the skin is very crispy and the fish is just cooked through.

Meanwhile, tear up most of the basil leaves and mix with the cherry tomatoes, the red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix the chopped olives with 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of water.

Add the chorizo to the pan with the salmon for the last 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes for 30 seconds. Divide the tomatoes between two plates and top with the salmon, then spoon over the olive dressing and the rest of the basil leaves.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)

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Thrill of grill couscous

This is an old favourite that we make every summer. The chopped up mushrooms give it a fantastic earthy flavour and it works really well with barbecues and on picnics.

Tasty Couscous Salad – serves 4

  • 200g couscous
  • 400ml boiling vegetable stock (we still use Swiss Marigold Bouillon Powder)
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 175g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
  • half a bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp pesto
  • a handful of toasted pine nuts, almonds or rough chopped hazelnuts
  • a generous handful of basil

Put the couscous into a bowl and pour over the hot stock. Cover with cling film and leave to soak for 5 minutes.

When the 5 minutes is up, fork the couscous through to break up any lumps, then stir in the oil and pesto, then tip in all the veg and nuts and tear in the basil. Taste and season.

Simple as that!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, August, 2002.)

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Griddled courgettes with parmesan & basil

We have used some fancy yellow courgettes for this dish but the usual green variety will be just as good. An excellent side dish for barbecues… of which we are having many at the moment. If you don’t want to light the barbecue you can also griddle the courgettes with good results.

Griddled courgettes with Parmesan & basil – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 5 medium courgettes
  • 2 tbsp salt flakes
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • a few mint leaves, roughly torn

Preheat the barbecue (or griddle pan). Cut the ends of the courgettes and cut a long thin slice off two opposite sides and discard. Cut each courgette into 4 long strips. Mix the courgettes with the salt and place in a colander to drain with some plates on top. Let them drip over the sink or a bowl or an hour or so.

Shake off any excess salt from the slices, then rub each side with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook the courgettes on the barbecue/griddle for about 5 minutes per side or until softened and well charred. Transfer to a serving dish and squeeze over a little more lemon juice.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes or until golden.

Scatter the pine nuts, parmesan, basil & mint over the courgettes. Trickle over the rest of the olive oil and serve warm.

(Original recipe from by Valentine Warner in BBC Olive Magazine, July 2009.)

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Pesto Lasagne

A really quick and easy lasagne full of Spring flavours. You don’t have to buy fresh pesto from the fridge as this tends to be more oily and makes this dish very rich; we successfully used a jar from a shelf instead.

Wine suggestion: A grassy European styled Sauvignon Blanc which tends to have a longer, if cooler, growing season is a good match. Avoid the big flavoured Sauvignon’s with the kiwi / tinned asparagus flavours that you might typically find from NZ and Chile as these flavours clash a bit. Exceptions to this always exist like the Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon, but a good Touraine or Sancerre would be our match.

Pesto Lasagne – serves 4 to 6

  • 190g jar of pesto
  • 500g tub mascarpone
  • 200g bag spinach, roughly chopped
  • 250g frozen peas
  • small pack of basil
  • small pack of mint
  • 12 fresh lasagne sheets
  • 85g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 50g pine nuts
  • Green salad & garlic bread to serve

Heat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4.

Put the pesto, half the mascarpone and 250ml vegetable stock in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until smooth and bubbling. Add the spinach and peas and cook for another few minutes until the spinach has wilted and the peas have defrosted. Add the herbs and season but go easy with the salt.

Put a third of this pesto mixture into the base of a baking dish (approx. 18 x 25cm). Top with 4 lasagne sheets, then repeat with 2 more layers of sauce and lasagne sheets, finishing with a layer of pasta. Mix some milk into the remaining mascarpone to make a sauce consistency, season then pour over the top of the dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and pine nuts, then bake for 35-40 minutes or until brown on the top and bubbling. Scatter over a few basil leaves before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2014.)

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Pizza baked potato

The vast majority of our weeknight dinners are based on whatever happens to be left in the fridge after the weekend.  It turns out that leftover pizza toppings taste pretty good on top of a baked potato too. Also suitable for those who don’t eat pizza dough.

Wine Suggestion: If you happen to have something open already, that will do nicely.

Pizza Jacket Potatoes – serves 4

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 60g sliced pepperoni, torn (the thin sliced stuff from a packet will do fine)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • small handful of basil leaves, shredded
  • 100g grated mozzarella/cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 6.

Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Bake directly on the oven shelf for 1-1½ hrs, or until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and sauté the onion for 5 mins to soften. Stir in the garlic and pepperoni, and cook for a minute or two,  then add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins. Season and stir in half the basil. Spoon over the split potatoes and top each one with a good handful of cheese and the rest of the basil.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

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Walnut Pesto

We first tasted walnut pesto in Florence a few years ago but it has taken us a while to get around to making it ourselves. This works equally well for a casual dinner or in smaller portions as a starter and it tastes really special. You can make this with fresh walnuts which you buy whole and shell yourself but it also works well with shelled walnuts, provided you make sure they are fresh (we buy our walnuts from Lidl which come in a sealed foil bag). You can keep the pesto in the fridge for up to a week and it freezes well too.

Wine Suggestion: we like to drink dry white wines that have texture and a certain crunchiness with walnuts, which aren’t always easy to match. Italian whites come to mind first and the nutty ones work very well, like Verdicchio, but it has been dry (sec) Jurançon that has proved a stellar match, like Cauhapé’s Chants des Vignes. A wine with a vibrancy of fruit, a fresh acidity like a crunchy green and red apple mix, some white flowers in the aromas and a texture on the palate that carries through with a long length and food friendly finish.

Pasta with creamy walnut pesto – serves 4 (with some pesto left over)

  • 400g orecchiette pasta
  • 175g walnut halves/pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • handful fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml double cream

Cook the pasta for the recommended time on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the basil, cheese, butter and oil and pulse for a few more times, then season.

Pour the cream into a pan and warm through. Add two-thirds of the pesto, then gently heat to loosen it.

Take 2 tbsp of water out of the pasta pan before draining, then mix the pasta and the water into the sauce. Serve immediately with some extra Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

The leftover pesto will keep in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a month.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferringo in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2009.)

 

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Feta, fresh & semi-dried tomato couscous

We cooked this dish while camping in France and it was a great side dish for all sorts of barbecued meat. It’s also a great idea for using up leftover sun-dried tomatoes which can easily get forgotten in the back of our fridge.

Tomato & Feta Couscous Salad – serves 4

  • 200g couscous
  • 250g piece of feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 heaped tbsp chopped basil leaves

Put the couscous into a large bowl, pour over boiling water to cover, then leave to soak for 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.

Marinate the feta in the balsamic vinegar and olive oil for about 20 minutes.

Chop the cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes and mix together.

Crumble the marinated feta into large pieces, then fork through the couscous with the tomatoes and basil and season to taste.

(Original recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

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Tomato & cheese tart

One of those easy dishes that just bursts with fresh flavours and vitality. It really sings at the end of  summer with fully ripe and juicy tomatoes just picked and wonderful. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.

Wine Suggestion: We’d serve a classic chianti where the acidity of the Sangiovese grape works really well with the tomatoes but isn’t too heavy a red for the dish (don’t bother with the Riserva).

Cheese, Tomato & Basil Tart – serves 4-6

  • 1 shortcrust pastry case, cooked ‘blind’

FOR THE FILLING: 

  • 10 ripe tomatoes, halved widthways
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml double or regular cream
  • 2 tbsp torn or sliced basil
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.

Put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar and ½ tsp salt. Bake for about 45 minutes or until completely soft and browning at the edges. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until golden. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs and cream together in a bowl, stir in the basil, and season with salt and pepper.

Spread out the fried onion in a layer in the tart case. Top with two-thirds of the cheese, then arrange the cooked tomatoes on top. Pour in the egg mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top and just set in the centre.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, Harper Collins, 2013.)

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