Spaghetti Bolognese is my go to comfort food. It never fails to cheer me up or warm me up when needed, and even the act of making it is oddly comforting, go figure! But sometimes you just can’t be bothered… Sometimes you just want the comfort without the effort. Which is where this awesome new recipe find from Delicious Magazine comes in to play! Normally I’ll tinker with a recipe, but this is one instance where the recipe was perfect straight out of the box (so to speak!).
The veal makes this feel like a really indulgent supper, and I love how the sauce is rich but light thanks to missing out the ubiquitous can of tomatoes that goes into most ragu sauces. The splash of red wine vinegar at the end helps cut through some of that richness, and adds a wonderful counter flavour to the otherwise sweet ragu.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love recipes that taste like they were hard work but are actually anything but. This recipe is a perfect example of that, super easy to throw together but tastes like something that required an awful lot more time in the kitchen then it actually did. And the long slow cooking makes it the perfect Sunday night supper 🙂
ps – if you don’t like veal then mince beef would work just as well, and appreciate the slow cooking just as much.
Veal Mince Ragu with Tagliatelle
A poshed up version of that old British favourite, spag bol!
Start with a large saucepan or wok over a medium heat and melt your butter before adding all of the chopped veg. Gently fry until the onions are going transluscent, then remove to a plate.
In the same pan, add the veal mince and give it a good season. Turn the heat up until the meat is browned off.
Add the tomato puree and stir through the meat, and then cook for a couple of minutes before adding the veg back into the pan and giving everything a good stir.
Next, add the white wine and, still on a high heat, bubble for 2 minutes before adding the beef stock and milk.
Once it’s all bubbling again, turn the heat down until your ragu is simmering and then cover. Leave it to simmer away 1½-2 hours, giving it a stir every now and then and tasting to check the seasoning.
Take the lid off for the last half hour of cooking. If it's too dry add more stock.
Just before you’re serve, stir through a splash of red wine vinegar, then toss through the tagliatelle and plate up with generous shavings of parmesan.
I love aubergines (aka eggplants)! They are one of my favourite vegetables if not my favourite vegetable (although they are technically a fruit, but let’s not quibble over that just now). I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to them! They are crazy versatile, as evidenced by the myriad ways to have them, and I don’t think I’ve come across an aubergine dish yet that I didn’t like. My mum is totally to blame for my aubergine fondness, she makes this mean Chinese chilli aubergine that when I was a kid I used to pick at the leftovers, stone cold straight out of the fridge, and then tried (and failed!) to cover up the holes I’d left…
Aubergines are in season still so this is a great recipe for a quick and satisfying Meatless Monday supper, or an any night supper. The dish is full of that unmistakeable smoky aubergine flavour, perfectly complimented by the spicy tomato sauce. And cooking the aubergines in the oven avoids all that oil soaking up that they love which, whilst it does make them much tastier, isn’t brilliant for the old waistline. The fresh basil bridges late Summer and early Autumn, and makes a lovely difference so while you can substitute it for dried basil I would recommend trying not to.
Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta
Smoky roasted aubergines in a simple spicy tomato sauce over linguine makes for a perfect Meatless Monday, or any day, supper.
1 tsp crushed chilli flakes, plus extra for finishing
1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for finishing
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 packet linguine
Preheat the oven to 220° C/425° F.
Slice the eggplants into 1-inch thick slices, then cut again until you have large cube-ish pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet or roasting tray. Salt well and season with black pepper before drizzling over with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Toss the aubergine cubes until they are well coated .
Pop the aubergine cubes in the oven and roast until they're tender and browning, which should take about 20 minutes.
While the aubergine is roasting, heat 3 tbsp olive oil on low heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sautée for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are soft.
While the onions are sautéeing, put a large saucepan of water on to boil for your pasta.
Add the garlic and sautée for another minute before adding the tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes, sugar and basil. Add a couple of good slugs of balsamic and then turn the heat up until the sauce is simmering.
At this point, give the aubergine a good shake to toss everything around again and then pop back in the oven.
Give the sauce another 10-12 minutes, until it has thickened up.
When the eggplant is ready, remove it from the oven and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer gently on very low heat.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt well before popping the linguine in. Cook per the packet instructions, until al dente.
When the pasta is ready, drain and drop into the sauce. Gently fold in the sauce until the pasta is well coated. Dish up and top with chopped basil and chilli flakes to taste. Serve with grated parmesan.
So… I took a bit of a sabbatical from the blog apparently… Wasn’t intentional, I just got a bit distracted by life there, and in a good way. In the meantime, lovely Hubby gave the blog a wee bit of a design refresh which I am seriously loving! Doesn’t it look all grown-up and shiny 🙂 Refreshed from sabbatical + shiny blog + Autumn on the way = time to get stuck back in! And I thought I’d start with a new favourite 🙂
While we’re still clinging on to Summer, here’s a recipe that we seem to have been indulging in quite a bit. The dish is light, the pasta dressed rather than swimming in a heavy sauce, and its really quick to rustle up which is perfect for when the weather is stupidly hot and you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen for any longer than you have to be.
I think I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’m a wee bit fussy when it comes to seafood… It’s mostly a trust thing, i.e. I don’t trust it not to be hiding tiny bones or bits of shell in a random mouthful. But I’ve been making my peace with it, fish by fish, and have finally gotten round to the joy that is white crab meat – all tasty and sweet and not at all ‘fishy’, unlike brown crab meat.
I’ve been finding excuses all summer to rustle up a bowl of this with deliberate forays down the fish aisle seeming to end more often than not in “Oh look! Crab meat! Shame to let it waste away on the shelf there…” much to Hubby’s amusement.
There are a lot of recipes out there for this, believe me, I tried most of them! My version is a bit of a mash up of the ones I tried, dialling up this and dialling down that until it hit just the right spot for me.
In keeping with my preferrence for cooking short cuts (understatement of the year!) you can get some fantastic ready cooked white crab meat from the supermarket (M&S is good but Watirose stocks our favourite from Seafood & Eat It). Be prepared to go higher end for it – without naming names, we bought some white crab meat from a reputable supermarket only for it to be not very ‘white’ at all…
With the crab meat taken care of, aka ready cooked, the rest of the recipe is barely any work at all which is what makes it perfect for a midweek summer supper. Not to mention that it is fair bursting with lovely flavours!
Spaghetti works just fine but I think it’s best really with linguine, the crab meat just seems to cling better to a flatter noodle. The capers are entirely optional, but they do add another layer of flavour not to mention texture. And finally, parmesan at your peril. There’s that whole food crime thing that Italians have about putting cheese on seafood and having tried this with and without a sprinkling of parmesan it’s safe to say that the Italians are definitely on to something…
Chilli, Lemony, Garlicky Crab Linguine
A light and zingy pasta dish with a wee kick, too delicious for how easy it is to rustle up.
2 lemons, juice and zest 1, cut 1 into wedges for serving
Half pack of Linguine
Salt and pepper
Start by bringing a large saucepan of water to the boil. While you’re waiting, mince your garlic and finely chop your red chilli, seeds and all for a wee bit of a kick (or de-seed before chopping if you'd prefer this kick free).
When the water is boiling, salt well and then pop in your linguine and cook per the packet instructions.
While the linguine is cooking, heat the oil and butter in a deep frying pan (a wok is perfect for this) before adding the garlic and chilli. Fry gently for one minute without letting it brown before adding the crabmeat and stirring everything through for another minute.
Add the wine and turn up the heat until you've brought it to a boil. Season and then reduce the heat a little so that it's still bubbling away quite happily - you want to reduce this right down and cook all the alcohol off in the time it takes the linguine to finish cooking.
When the linguine is ready, scoop out about 1/2 a cup of the cooking liquid before draining. Add the linquine to the crab mixture together with the parsley, capers, lemon juice, lemon zest and a splash of the linquine cooking water. Give everything a good toss together before dishing up with lemon wedges on the side.
We seem to be eating a lot of lamb at the moment, not that I’m complaining as it’s such a fave in our house, and since we’re smack bang in the middle of Scottish lamb season it seems a shame not to indulge! So here’s another recipe from my #whambamthankyoulamb afternoon with QMS, and one I’ve been looking forward to making again to check it was as tasty as I remembered. It totally was if the happy smile on Hubby’s face is anything to go by 🙂
This recipe wins on taste and effort and really is perfect for a midweek make. The meatballs take next to no time to roll up and can even be done in advance and left in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to cook. The cherry tomatoes and fresh basil lend the sauce a freshness that I promise you’ll come back for, and if – like me – you’re thinking that tarragon and lamb is an odd combination let me assure you that it really really works. Really.
Tarragon Lamb Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce
Lamb and tarragon meatballs make for a quick and tasty supper.
1 slice of stale white bread, grated or zizzed into crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
handful of fresh tarragon leaves, gently chopped
25g fresh basil
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
200g cherry tomatoes
pinch of sugar
splash of balsamic
400g penne pasta
salt and pepper to season
50g parmesan shavings (optional)
CSI-style vinyl gloves (optional)
Mix the lamb, half the garlic and onion, breadcrumbs, egg, a pinch of salt and pepper and tarragon leaves. Get those CSI gloves on if you have them and roll yourself 12 golfball-ish sized meatballs. Cover with clingfilm before popping into the fridge for 30 minutes or so – the fridge bit is optional and you can skip it if you’re rushed, but it does help the meatballs hold together better when you’re cooking them. Not a mealbreaker if you can’t.
While the meatballs are chilling, preheat your oven to 200 °C/400 °F/gas mark 6. (If you’re skipping the chilling then probably best to do this bit first.)
If you have a casserole that is as happy in the oven as it is on the stove (and vice versa) then you can do this all in one pot. If you don’t, do your frying in a standard frying pan and then transfer to a casserole for the oven, or just cook the whole thing on the stove.
Put some oil in your casserole or pan and cook the meatballs in batches until they are mostly browned all over but not cooked through. Remove to a plate (with kitchen roll to soak up some of the excess oil) and set to one side.
Drain the oil from the pan, then gently sauté the rest of the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt, then add a pinch of sugar and a goodly splash of balsamic vinegar to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring up to the boil and leave simmering for 3–4 minutes.
Next, return the meatballs to the pan along with the cherry tomatoes and basil. Give it all a gentle stir so as not to break your meatballs, and bring to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, pop a lid over it and place in the oven for about 20–25 minutes (or leave on top of the stove for the same amount of time).
Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain so that it’s ready when the meatballs are.
Remove the pan of meatballs from the oven. For best noms, remove the meatballs from the sauce onto a plate and then add the drained pasta to the pan and mix well with the sauce. Add the meatballs back in and mix again so that everything is coated in the tomato sauce.
Plate up, sprinkling over some parmesan shavings and a few sprigs of basil. Serve up, and marvel at the unusual but totally tasty marriage of tarragon and lamb 🙂
Sometimes, you just want to throw something together for supper that’s quick and easy and uncomplicated but without compromising on the tasty. This is just one of those dishes, and something that Hubby pretty much made up out of whatever was in the kitchen one night. The big show off… However, the flavour is that yummy that I can’t hold his genius ability to cook something out of nothing against him 😉 And for a dish that’s pretty cheap to make it actually tastes anything but thanks to the mascarpone.
Along with our somewhat enforced but surprisingly enjoyable dietary diversion into fish, we’re also trying to cut down on red meat and have started doing Meatless Monday, which this dish is perfect for 🙂
The secret ingredient in this is fish sauce, which I know seems like a strange thing to put in a pasta sauce but it adds a cheeky sneaky bit of umami that really works well. But if fish sauce is just a step too far, or if you’re trying to make this properly vegetarian, porcini mushrooms would also tick the umami box and would go really well with this sauce – rehydrate from dried, chop, finely sieve the water the mushrooms rehydrated in to catch any grit and add a spoon or two to the sauce along with the porcini.
Hubby's Wicked Tasty Tomato & Mascarpone Pasta
Deceptively simple meatless pasta dish that is anything but boring.
Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a saucepan over a low flame. Add the diced onions and sweat them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, without letting them colour.
Once the onions have cooked down, add the minced garlic and stir to mix.
Then add the tomato puree, can of tomatoes, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar and water. Mix well before turning the heat up to medium and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (if the sauce becomes claggy, turn the heat down and add a little bit of water to thin it).
When the sauce is almost done cooking, fill another saucepan with water for the pasta and put it over a high heat until it’s boiling. Pop in your pasta, and then take the lid off the sauce and let it cook uncovered until the pasta is ready which should be about another 10 minutes.
When the pasta is cooked, take 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining it, and add that to the tomato sauce, mixing well. Add the marscapone to the tomato sauce, stirring until completely blended.
Return your pasta to the cooking pan, top with the tomato marscapone sauce and stir until the pasta is coated. Top with remaining sauce, if desired, and generously grate parmesean cheese all over it. Devour!