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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

This is just a simple green salad but the addition of chopped green olives and red onions takes it to the next level. It’s particularly good with tomato-based dishes, like lasagne or Parmigiana.

Green salad with olive dressing – serves 6

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 50g green olives, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 6 big handfuls of mixed green salad leaves

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl, then add the olives and red onion and season.

Tip the salad leaves into a bowl and drizzle over the dressing, then toss gently to coat.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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These have to be the easiest snack ever and they’re great to serve with drinks. The best thing is that you can have them made up in the fridge and just bake them when you need them.

Wine Suggestion: Find a bone-dry white that gets your digestive juices watering. For something really special look out for Quinta Soalheiro’s Granit which is an high altitude, single vineyard selection from, as you might have suspected Granitic soil. Piercingly dry and laser focused, and yet so beautiful and expressive it made us sit up and pay attention.

Za’atar & Goats’ Cheese Puffs – makes 20

  • 1 x 320g ready-rolled puff pastry sheet
  • olive oil
  • 2 heaped tbsp za’atar
  • 300g soft goats’ cheese

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.

Put the cheese into a bowl and break it up with a fork.

Unroll the pastry sheet but keep it on the greaseproof liner it’s wrapped in.

Place the pastry on the work surface with the long side facing you and brush lightly with olive oil.

Scatter over 1 tbsp of the za’atar, then distribute the cheese all over the sheet, leaving a 2.5cm border at the edge of the pastry furthest from you. Season generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the other tbsp of za’atar.

Start to roll the pastry, starting with the long edge closest to you and rolling away from you. Roll it as tightly as possible without crushing it. Use a serrated knife to cut the roll in half then cut each half into 10 slices. Put the slices onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and pat them down flat with your fingers to hep them stay together.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour, Michell Beazley, 2016.)

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This dish couldn’t be easier and is all cooked in the one tray; a great spring celebration. It helped that we were able to source all of the ingredients locally, always makes us feel good about what we’re eating.

Wine Suggestion: Simple, but fresh and asparagus friendly Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, in this case blended with a touch of Chardonnay from the Cheverny appelation. Pascal Bellier produces a charmer.

Sea trout, new potatoes and asparagus with a dill & mustard sauce – serves 4

  • 1kg baby new potatoes, we used Jersey Royals
  • 400g asparagus
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 fillets of sea trout (or you could use salmon)

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill, plus a bit extra to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Cook the potatoes in salty water for about 3 minutes, then add the asparagus and cook for a further 2 minutes. Drain well and and run the asparagus under cold running water to stop it cooking any further.

Put the potatoes into a large non-stick baking tray, toss with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Put into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until starting to brown.

Tuck the trout and asparagus in and around the potatoes and season these too. Roast again for 10-12 minutes or until the trout is just cooked.

Meanwhile, whisk the mustard, sugar, vinegar and oil together to make the dressing. Stir through the dill just before you’re ready to serve. Drizzle the sauce over the dish and scatter with some more dill if you like.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe and Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, May 2019.)

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This is Meera Sodha’s fresh take on Matar Paneer, which is usually a richer dish. Delicious with warm naan breads and plain yoghurt, this version could easily become a regular favourite.

Fresh Matar Paneer – serves 4 as a main or more as a side with other dishes

  • rapeseed oil
  • 550g hard paneer, cut into 1.5cm cubes
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 200g green beans
  • 200g mangetout
  • 200g frozen peas (defrosted), or you can use fresh of course if you have them
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced to serve

Heat a couple of tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan. Fry the panner over a medium heat until browned and crisp all over, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat another tbsp of oil in the pan, then add the garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes (make sure the frying pan isn’t too hot when you add the garlic or it will burn). Add the tomatoes and cook for about 6 minutes or until just turning jammy. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, chilli powder and turmeric, then stir for another minute before taking off the heat.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add salt. Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mangetout and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 1 more minute, then drain and leave to steam dry.

Heat the sauce, then stir in the paneer. When both are hot, stir in the veg. Sprinkle over the sliced red chilli and serve.

(Original recipe from Fresh India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2016.)

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This soup recipe by Skye Gyngall is delicious. Make it while you can get local aspragus and serve with some crusty bread.

Asparagus, rice & pancetta soup – serves 4

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of thymes, leaves stripped and stalks discarded
  • 5 slices of pancetta, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 100g white rice
  • 1 litre good chicken stock
  • 500ml water
  • 12 green asparagus spears, snap off the woody ends and cut into short lengths on the diagonal
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the onions, thyme and a pinch of salt and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Add the pancetta and garlic and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, then stir in the rice. Pour in the stock and water and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down low, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Add the asparagus to the soup and cook for a few minutes until just tender, then stir in the Parmesan. Season to taste with lots of black pepper and salt to taste.

Ladle into warm bowls and top with the parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille Publishing Limited, 2008.)

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Bored with bolognese? Try this lamb and pea ragu for a change, it’s just as comforting but peas for a bit of Spring freshness.

Wine Suggestion: We had a glass of the Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero Serrano, which is an unoaked Montepulciano with a touch of Sangiovese. Springtime in a glass.

Lamb & pea ragu – serves 6

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 anchovy fillet, drained
  • a splash of white wine
  • 200g tomato passata
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 150g frozen peas
  • grated Parmesan
  • 500g casarecce, fusilli or other pasta

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a high heat. Add the mince and fry until well browned. Season with salt and pepper and scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the carrot, celery and leek to the fat in the pan and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli flakes, ground fennel seeds, and anchovy to the pan and cook for another minute.

Return the lamb to the pan and stir into the vegetables, then add the splash of wine and allow it to almost evaporate. Add the passata and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes more, until the sauce is quite thick.

Add the milk and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick and creamy, then stir in the balsamic vinegar and peas and cook for a final 3 minutes. Season again to taste.

Meanwhile, cook the past is lots of very salty water. Drain and reserve a mug of cooking water. Combine the sauce and pasta and add a bit of pasta cooking water to moisten if you need.

Serve with lots of grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Jane Baxter in The Guardian)

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Tender chicken in tasty sauce, healthy stuff for mid-week. We served with brown rice.

Paprika chicken goulash – serves 4

  • 500g skinless and boneless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, seasoned well
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1½ tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • sour cream, to serve
  • rice, to serve

Toss the chicken with the seasoned flour. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large deep frying pan and cook in batches until browned all over, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes or until soft and browned at the edges. Add the pepper and cook for another 8 minutes or so or until soft.

Put the chicken back into the pan and add the spices, tomatoes and stock. Cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the chicken tender. Stir in the parsley and serve with sour cream and rice.

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

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This is absolutely lovely for lunch and you can make it up a few hours in advance and chill it in the fridge. It’s also easily doubled if your serving a crowd. Like everything it tastes better outside in the sun. Serve with some crusty bread and green salad leaves if you like.

Lemon & herb chicken salad – serves 6

  • 750g cooked skinless chicken, cut into thin strips (we cook our chicken on a barbecue for extra flavour)
  • 150g pitted green olives, halved
  • 290g jar chargrilled red peppers, drained and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 200g feta cheese, broken into small pieces

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl and seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Add the chicken to the dressing and toss well, then addd the olives, half the peppers, the basil, parsley, and two-thirds of the feta. Season again.

Arrange the chicken on a large platter and top with the rest of the peppers and feta. Chill in the fridge for a bit before serving.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, Penguin Random House, 2019.)

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We’ve tried a few of these lately; a pasta dish where you literally chuck everything into the one pan, pasta and all, and cook. Perfect for weeknight/late night cooking.

Wine Suggestion: Well we wouldn’t go too fancy here as it would sort of defeat the purpose, something red, Italian, and not too expensive would be our choice.

One-pan pasta with sausage & fennel – serves 2-3

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 pork sausages, skinned
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp hot-smoked paprika
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped or plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 450ml chicken stock
  • 175g penne pasta or similar
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche, soft cheese or double cream
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan, finely grated, plus more to serve
  • a bunch of basil, roughly torn

Heat the oil in a a large deep frying pan. Pull off small pieces of sausage and add them to the pan. Fry until nicely browned all over. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, paprika and chilli flakes and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in the pasta, then cover with a lid and simmer gently for 12-15 minutes or until almost cooked, give it a stir now and then as it cooks. Stir in the crème fraîche, Parmesan and basil, then remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to sit for a couple of minutes. Serve with extra Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, May 2020.)

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In our house almost anything will be eaten if it’s mixed with noodles (though not mushrooms sadly … but we’re working on it). Any leftovers of this will make a popular lunchbox too.

Chicken & soba noodle stiry-fry – serves 4

  • 800ml chicken stock
  • 400g chicken breasts
  • 200g dried soba noodles
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
  • 150g green beans, trimmed
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • a small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a pot, then add the chicken breasts and cook for 20 minutes. Make sure they are completely submerged in the stock. Remove the chicken breasts, shred with two forks and set aside.

Add the noodles to the chicken stock and cook according to the pack instructions. Remove the noodles from the stock with tongs and set aside, reserve the stock.

Heat the oil in a wok, then stir-fry the ginger, chilli and garlic for 30 seconds. Add the onion, carrot, green beans and mushrooms and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.

Add the shredded chicken, the noodles, 50ml of the reserved stock, the soy sauce and the sesame oil. Toss to combine and heat through. You can add a little more stock for moisture if you need.

Divide between warm bowls and scatter the coriander over the top.

(Original recipe by Nadine Brown in Olive Magazine, May 2021.)

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Try this simple lunch with some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: A good, salty Pazo de Señoráns Albariño which plays a delightful dance of balancing a lightness and elegance with surprising depth, concentration and complexity.

Hot-smoked salmon salad with chive buttermilk dressing – serves 2

  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, cut into chunky pieces
  • 50g sugar snap peas, halved
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 150g hot-smoked salmon
  • crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING

  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • a bunch of chives, finely chopped

Put the buttermilk, white wine vinegar and caster sugar into a small jug, season with salt and pepper and whisk together. Add the chives.

Put the lettuce, sugar snap peas, red onion and capers into a large bowl and toss together gently. Add half the dressing and toss again. Flake over the hot-smoked salmon and gently toss again, then drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

(Original recipe in Olive Magazine, April 2020.)

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If you use a vegan curry paste you can easily make this a vegan dish. Lots of bright colours and great flavours in this one, and it’s quick to make.

Wine Suggestion: We think a minerally, just off-dry Riesling like Pikes Hills & Valleys from the Clare Valley is the ticket here with the limey fruit characters lifting the flavours of the dish and then the hint of residual sugar to balance the chillies.

Thai Green Veggie Curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash (800g), cut into small cubes
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • a handful of sugar snap peas
  • a handful of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard
  • a handful of green beans
  • a handful of frozen edamame beans
  • 1 lime, cut into wedge, to serve
  • a handful of coriander leaves, to serve
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced, to serve
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced, to serve
  • jasmine rice, to serve

FOR THE CURRY BASE

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bash with a rolling pin to bruise it
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 2 x 400ml coconut milk

Toss the cubes of butternut squash with the light soy sauce in a bowl. Heat 1 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a wok, then add the squash and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until softened and browned, stirring often.

To make the curry base, heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a large frying pan, then add the lemongrass stalk and curry paste and cook over a high heat for a minute.

Stir in the coconut milk, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer for 8 minues.

Discard the lemongrass, then add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, green beans and edamame beans to the sauce and cook for 4-5 minutes or until just tender.

Ladle the curry sauce into bowls and top with the squash, a squeeze of lime, some coriander, red chilli and scallion. Serve with jasmine rice.

(Original recipe by Katy Beskow in Olive Magazine, April 2018.)

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We recently bought Ammu by Asma Khan, a book full of Indian home-cooking recipes interlaced with lovely stories about Asma’s family life. Today was its first outing and we cooked these kebabs on the barbecue because the sun was shining, and our friend Michael keeps gifting us huge jars of pickled onions that he got for a bargain price in M&S (true). Asma recommends serving with a black-eyed bean salad called Lobia – and we agree.

Wine Suggestion: Find an easy, juicy barbecue red that isn’t too heavy and you’ll be happy here.

Murgh Seekh Kabab – serves 6

  • 900g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 5cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 300g well-drained pickled onions or shallots
  • 6 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Ideally you should marinade the chicken and leave in the fridge for about 4 hours. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, then add the chicken and toss to coat, then cover and put into the fridge.

Get your barbecue going, we prefer charcoal but whatever you’ve got will do.

Thread the chicken pieces, thinly sliced ginger and pickled onions onto metal kebab sticks (you can use the wooden ones but you need to soak them in cold water for about 20 minutes first to stop them burning). Grill the kebabs for about 5 minutes on each side, basting with the ghee or vegetable oil.

(Original recipe from Ammu by Asma Khan, Ebury Press, 2022.)

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This is an Indian side dish and a great salad that we plan to serve with many Indian meals. This time we had it with Murgh Seekh Kababs cooked on the barbecue. Asma prefers dried beans (and we’re sure she is right) but we cheated this time and used a tin of black-eyed beans instead.

Lobia – serves 4

  • 200g dried black-eyed beans (we used a 400g tin)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ a small red onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 red tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

If using dried beans you need to soak them in cold water overnight.

The next day, drain the beans and put into a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about an hour, or until soft. Drain and leave to cool.

If you are using a tin of beans, you can skip all of the above and just drain and rinse them in cold water.

Put the beans into a bowl, add the garlic, onion, chilli and tomato and mix together gently. Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper together, pour into the bowl with the beans and mix together.

(Original recipe from Ammu by Asma Khan, Ebury Press, 2022).

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This is a great dish for using up bits of leftover veg and antipasti things. Keep the base of onions, garlic, rice and veg stock but after that you can use up whatever you’ve got – we’ve given what we used below as an example.

Wine Suggestion: This Spanish inspired dish encouraged us to have a glass of a Spanish Garnacha Blanca, the Edetària via Terra Blanca which we find unprepossessing and charming, plus with the right textures and flavours to match this paella. We dare say their equivalent via Terra Tinto (Garnacha Negra) would also be a good match too if you fancied a glass of red instead.

Baked veggie paella – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • half a red pepper, sliced
  • half a yellow pepper, sliced
  • half a green pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato purée
  • 300g bomba paella rice
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 100g chargrilled artichokes in olive oil, halved if big
  • 75g mixed olives
  • 75g Sunblush tomatoes
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Heat the olive oil in a shallow casserole and cook the onions, peppers and courgettes with some salt for about 10 minutes or until softened and starting to caramelise.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomato purée and rice and stir until the grains are coated.

Add the stock, artichokes, olives and Sunblush tomatoes, then season and mix well. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Scatter over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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Jules’ parents often give us yellow peppers as they prefer green ones, and for some reason they can only buy peppers locally (NI) in multi-coloured packs of three. Perhaps another Brexit effect. No matter as we’ve found the perfect use for them in this simple pasta sauce by Joe Trivelli. We didn’t have enough rigatoni so added some penne that got stuck in all the rigatoni tubes. We had good fun sucking them out.

Wine Suggestion: This is excellent with oaked Sauvignon Blanc, especially white Bordeaux, where the oak mellows out the grassy characteristics and adds a creamy, buttery layer with extra citrus fruits. We recognise these are harder to find and higher in price, so more affordably we successfully opened an Umani Ronchi Ca’Sal di Serra Verdicchio which carries over the cut grass and citrus characters and adds an almondy twist.

Rigatoni with yellow peppers – serves 4

  • 1 large yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ dried chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 40ml double cream
  • 400g rigatoni – Joe sugests whole-wheat but we had the regular stuff so just used that
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • salted ricotta if you have some – we used Parmesan which works too

Put a medium frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Fry the pepper for 3 minutes, then add the garlic with a pinch of salt. Crumble in the chilli, cover and cook over a low heat, stirring now and then. You want the pepper to soften completely which could take around 30 minutes so be patient.

Add the cream and bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, then purée the sauce in a food processer and return to the pan.

Cook the pasta in lots of salty water until al dente. Scoop out a mugful of the pasta cooking water before draining, then add the pasta to the pepper mixture. Toss the pasta and sauce over a low heat, adding the basil leaves and some pasta water if needed to make the sauce creamy.

Serve on warm plates with some grated cheese.

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

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This is good to serve with drinks for a crowd. You will need some flatbreads or pitta for dipping.

Wine Suggestion: An aperitivo type of drink; Negroni’s if you like, or for us Jérémie Huchet’s Muscadet Les Montys le Parc. A special “lieu-dit”, a vineyard recognised as something special and unique that allows a longer growing season than surrounding vineyards due to the aspect and soils. More depth and roundness than their classic Muscadet, but still with a lovely minerailty and mouthfeel and great length. Serious, and yet still with a sense of playful fun.

Spiced beetroot yoghurt – serves 6

  • 500g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp ground coriander
  • 20g mint, leaves finely chopped
  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • olive oil, for drizzling

Drain any juice off the beetroot, then whizz with a hand-blender to get a coarse-textured purée. Add the ground coriander, lots of salt and pepper and the mint (keep a little to garnish) and mix together well. Stir in the Greek yoghurt.

Season again to taste, then serve sprinkled with nigella seeds, the rest of the chopped mint and a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve with pitta, flatbreads or toast.

(Original recipe from Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2016.)

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Tinned fish seems to be having a moment, which is fine with us because we love it. We especially like Shines of Killybegs who do great sardines in sunflower oil, amongst lots of other delicious fishy things.

Wine Suggestion: An Italian white with a nutty twist at the end like Sartarelli’s Tralivio, a verdicchio from low yielding old vines that epitomises the very best of this grape and a perfect match to the umami saltiness of this dish.

Spaghetti with chilli, sardines & oregano – serves 2

  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 75g rough breadcrumbs, made from stale bread
  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 x 120g tin good-quality sardines in oil, drained
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 50g rocket

Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add a good glug of olive oil and when it’s hot add the breadcrumbs and half the garlic. Cook for a few minutes until golden and toasted, then season with salt and pepper and toss well. Drain on kitchen paper if needed.

Cook the pasta according the pack timings in lots of very salty water.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little oil, then add the remaining garlic and the chilli for 1-2 minutes. Flake the sardines into small pieces, then toss in the pan with the garlic and chilli.

Lift the cooked pasta out of the cooking water with tongs and add straight to the frying pan with the sardines. Toss to mix well, then add the oregano and season to taste.

Stir in the rocket and divide between two plates. Garnish with the garlicky breadcrumbs.

(Original recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course,

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A recipe by Rachel Roddy; simple and filling. Keep your Parmesan rinds in the freezer for adding to soups like this.

Pasta & Chickpea Soup – serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
  • a Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 225g short tubular pasta e.g. tubetti or ditalini or broken tagliatelle

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, then add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, then cook gently until soft and fragrant.

Add the tomato purée and sprig of rosemary, stir and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the chickpeas. Add 1 litre of hot water, a pinch of salt and the Parmesan rind, then stir again. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove half the soup and pass through a food mill or blend with a stick blender until smooth, then return to the pan. Season to taste with salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender, the pack timings should work but do check as you go and keep stirring. You add a bit more boiling water if needed. Season again to taste then serve garnished with your favourite olive oil.

(Original recipe from Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome by Rachel Roddy, Salt Yard Book Co., 2015.)

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These are delicious and perfect with some crusty bread or flatbreads for scooping. Do buy the fancy butter beans in a glass jar if you can. You can make this up to a day ahead and the flavours will improve.

Wine Suggestion: We really like this dish with a nice, chilled Vermentino. Tonight’s choice, the Poggio ai Ginepri Bianco from Tenuta Argentiera in Bolgheri. Long and vibrant with a rich citrus and pear flavour and layers of texture and wild sage to finish.

  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 mild red chillies, finely chopped, including the seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 3 preserved lemons (80g), inner parts discarded and skin finely sliced
  • 1 ½ tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 170ml olive oil
  • 1 jar of butter beans (700g)
  • 2 large vine tomatoes, roughly grated and skins discarded

Put the garlic, chillies, coriander, preserved lemon, thyme, rosemary, tomato purée, olive oil and 1¼ tsp of flaked salt into a medium sauté pan on a medium-low heat and stir together. Heat gently for 25 minutes, or until very fragrant but not browned at all. Turn the heat to low if the oil gets to hot.

Stir in the butter beans, then turn the heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour, or longer if you can.

Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato with tsp of flaked sea salt and plenty of black pepper.

Spoon the butter beans into a shallow bowl and spoon over the grated tomato, mixing it in in places. Then serve with crusty bread or flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2021.)

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