Pan-Fried Gnocchi and Blue Cheese Salad

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I am LOVING blue cheese at the moment and am loving experimenting with different ways of using it. I came across this recipe and juggled it slightly and was super stoked with the outcome! All  the beautiful flavours of blue cheese buddies with the soft comforting yumminess of the soft, scrumptious gnocchi.

Ingredients

  • 4 – 5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1 Package of dried gnocchi
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50g Walnuts
  • 200g or a small pack of streaky bacon
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 50g Dried cranberries
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • A big bunch of fresh Rocket (Arugula)
  • 80g Blue cheese of your choice

 

Method 

  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the gnocchi straight from the packaging to the hot melted butter and saute until golden brown. (5 – 10 minutes)
  • Add the walnuts and garlic to the pan with the gnocchi and cook for about 3 minutes
  • Put the gnocchi and walnuts into a warm dish and return the pan with any juice to the stove and add the bacon, onions and cranberries and saute until the onions are soft. add the Gnocchi and walnuts and toss and leave to cool for a little bit.
  • Add the rocket and toss together and crumble the blue cheese on top with a bit more rocket to garnish and serve immediately.

 

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Heavenly Vegetable Lasagne

Vegetable lasagne

As an avid Masterchef Australia fan I sat drooling as Neil Perry demonstrated this dish on their trip to Italy. Knowing that I would not get that kind of produce here in South Africa, I loved what it looked like so much that I decided to just try it here with what we have, which really is not that bad! Being a meat free dish I had to wait until my teenager was at school to attempt it. which meant that I had to do it on a week night. I would not recommend that as  it takes a while to make! But PLEASE do try it!! It will be absolutely perfect for a Saturday night date night with a gorgeous bottle of wine or as a Sunday lunch.

I accidentally bought the Verde (green) lasagne sheets, but it was a good mistake as it added lovely colour and I will do it again with the green lasagne. I also cheated a bit (with it being a Monday night) by using bottled roasted red peppers which you can get at a deli shop and are gorgeous and worked so well. So you can take a little shortcut there if you like.

Here in South Africa we don’t have beautiful big sweet vine ripened tomatoes, but we have small ones, about the size of cherry tomatoes. So I used those as they are sweeter. My sieve is very fine so I could not pass it through a sieve at the end of the tomato sauce process. But you could pop the skins off with your fingers once they have cooked and cooled down and chop them up roughly. I left the skins on and it was still AMAZING!

I also didn’t have separate ceramic dishes, so I used a bread tin which worked so well and just carefully sliced through for individual portions. Use a sharp knife!

I will make this again and again. It is gorgeous and tasty and homey and comforting! Ah! Just too good. Thank you Neil Perry! What a winner dish! 🙂

Roast Pepper

3 red peppers, quartered and seeded

2 tablespoons pure olive oil

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to season

Parmesan cheese sauce


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plain flour

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground white pepper, to taste

125ml milk

125g coarsely grated parmigiano reggiano

50g ricotta

1 egg, lightly beaten

Roast tomato sauce


750g vine ripened tomatoes, quartered

40ml extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh marjoram, chopped

Assembly

300g eggplant, cut into 5mm slices

5g sea-salt

olive oil

400g baby marrow, cut into 5mm slices

300g roasted red pepper (about 8 pieces) (see recipe above)

250g dried lasagne sheets

300g parmesan cheese sauce (see recipe above)

  • Preheat oven to 220°C.
  • For the roast red pepper; Place red peppers and olive oil in a large bowl, season with thyme, salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking paper-lined oven tray and roast for 20-30 minutes or until blistered. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with cling film. Stand for 5 minutes to loosen skin. Peel and discard skin.
  • For parmesan cheese sauce; Melt butter in medium saucepan, stir in flour; cook stirring for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper and gradually add milk, whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Add parmesan and ricotta and mix through.
  • Stir in egg until combined. Season to taste. Cover with a round of baking paper so a skin doesn’t form.
  • Preheat oven to 140°C.
  • For roast tomato sauce; place quartered tomatoes, skin side down in a roasting pan, drizzle with 20ml olive oil and scatter with oregano, margoram, salt and pepper. Slow roast for 1½-2 hours or until slightly dehydrated. Cool slightly.
  • Heat remaining 20ml olive oil in a saucepan; add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  • Chop tomatoes into 5mm dice, add to onion mixture with any juices and cook over medium heat until sauce is slightly thickened. If too thick add a little water; pass through a moulis or sieve to remove skin and seeds. Check seasoning and consistency, add a little extra olive oil and some pepper if desired.
  • Place eggplant in a colander, toss with 5g sea salt and stand over a bowl to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Brush both sides with a little olive oil and sear in a hot frying pan 1-2 minutes each side or until golden and tender. Remove to a board.
  • Brush baby marrow with a little olive oil and sear on both sides in the hot pan until baby marrow is golden and tender. Remove to board and trim vegetables to fit dish.
  • Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook lasagne sheets to almost al dente. Refresh in iced water and drain well. Cut pasta sheets into rectangles to fit dish.
  • Lightly grease four 2-cup capacity (12x8cm ceramic dishes) with a little olive oil, line base and 2 long sides with a sheet of baking paper extending 3cm above both long sides.
  • To assemble, place a piece of eggplant in the base of prepared dish, followed by a piece of pasta.  Spread with parmesan cheese sauce, then top with a piece of roasted red pepper, then top with about 2 strips of baby marrow, then a piece of roasted red pepper,  followed by another pasta sheet, then parmesan cheese sauce and finally place another 2 strips of baby marrow. Fold baking paper over and cover with foil.
  • Repeat this process with the remaining lasagne. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes until lasagne is tender.

Serves: 4

Recipe by Neil Perry

Mushroom Farfalle

Mushroom farfalle pic

I made this one for a Friday night dinner. I had to bake my son’s birthday cake so I wanted something quick and easy to throw together. Another vegetarian one. One mouthful from my 15 year old son and he looks up and says “Delicious Mom, but where’s the meat?”. I think I will be giving up on the vegetarian meals for my family. It’s clearly not working! However, if you don’t have a growing teenage boy in your home and you can do it, then I highly recommend this one. It was super quick and very tasty. I loved that the addition of the cottage cheese made it creamy but without the calories! Winner! 🙂 I used Portabello mushrooms as we don’t get chestnut mushrooms very easily here. But the portobello were a perfect substitute. So delicious!

25g dried porcini mushrooms

Olive Oil

2 – 4 cloves of garlic

½ small dried chili

250g chestnut mushrooms

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

320g dried farfalle

1 tsp truffle oil

1 lemon

½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley

150g low fat cottage cheese

  • Put the porcini into a mug and just cover with boiling water. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the large frying pan, squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher, crumble in the dried chili and tear in the mushrooms. Strip in the thyme leaves, then add the soaked porcini (with the water they soaked in) and toss and fry for a few minutes.
  • Put the pasta into a large pan, cover with boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions.
  • Tip the mushrooms into a food processor and whiz until fairly smooth, then return to the pan and add 3 small ladles of pasta cooking water and the truffle oil, season to taste and simmer gently.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the starchy cooking water, then toss the pasta with the sauce, loosening with a splash of cooking water, if needed.
  • Finely grate over the lemon  zest, finely chop and add most of the top leafy half of the parsley along with the cottage cheese, then toss together and serve straight away.

Recipe and Photo from Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals

Serves 4

Chicken and Roast Vegetable Lasagna

Chicken and Roast Vegetable

I make my own lasagna for this dish because quite frankly I enjoy the therapeutic benefits of it. My husband says I am mad so you can decide if you want to do that. If so, see my “hand made pasta” recipe on this blog. If you want to use dry lasagna sheets, thats perfectly fine!

I would recommend that you try this on a weekend as it is quite time consuming. You are looking at about 1 hour 45 mins of prep time and a further 35 minutes of baking and resting time. so it’s not a quick one. But it is well worth the effort. I doubled the recipe and fed 15 people last night. I thought I would have had loads of leftovers, alas…. it was flattened!

I use the rotisserie chicken (that I buy in my supermarket already cooked) because unlike what my husband thinks, I am not THAT mad! And I also find that the chicken is just lovely and moist which really does make a difference!

1 box of Lasagna Sheets

OR if you would like to make your own pasta use the recipe here: https://stickaforkinmeimdunne.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/hand-made-pasta/ 

1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken

4 rounds feta cheese

250g mozzarella cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground sea salt

1 tbsp dried sweet basil

For the white sauce:

100g butter

100g plain flour

1 litre full cream milk

100g grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Roast Veggies:

Olive oil

Butter for frying

1 large or 2 medium butternuts

Balsamic reduction

1tbsp fresh thyme leaves (no stalks) or dried thyme is also ok

2 large sweet potatoes

1 punnet baby marrows

2 large leeks

For the mushroom sauce:

Butter for frying

300g button mushrooms

½ tsp paprika

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

  • Preheat your oven to 200 C
  • Line 2 baking trays with foil and rub with a little bit of olive oil.
  • Peel and slice the butternut and sweet potatoes into rounds about 1cm thick. Place the butternut on one of the baking sheets with some balsamic reduction drizzled on top. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves, salt and pepper. On the other baking sheet place the sweet potatoes with a little drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the trays in the oven and roast until nicely golden. Turn the veggies over once about halfway through cooking so you get some good colour. They will take about 20 – 25 minutes to cook.
  • When they are done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool and then turn your oven down to 180C
  • Meanwhile you can start the sauce. on a low heat, melt 100g butter in a medium saucepan, add in the flour and mix into a paste. Warm the milk up in the microwave for about 2 minutes and then add to the butter and flour paste a little bit at a time until incorporated. Turn the heat up to medium and stir continuously for a few minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add 50g of the Parmesan cheese, and season to taste with some salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside, stirring it every now and then to prevent a skin from forming.
  • Slice the mushrooms up in a food processor and tip them into a frying pan with about 30g butter, the garlic, paprika and some salt and pepper and stir until the mushrooms are cooked. Then add about 1 cup of the white sauce to the mushroom mixture and the cheddar cheese and mix until combined. Set the mushroom sauce aside.
  • Slice the baby marrows and leaks up and put them into a frying pan with a little butter and some salt and pepper to taste and fry until soft and cooked through.
  • While the marrows are cooking, break the chicken up into bite size pieces and set aside.
  • In a large pot of water, precook the lasagna sheets (if using dry sheets) until soft and put them one side (don’t put them on top of each other as they will stick together)

To assemble the lasagna:

  • Get a large casserole dish and place a little bit of the white sauce on the bottom and then a layer of the lasagna sheets
  • Next, place the butternut rounds on the lasagna sheets in a layer. Using your fingers, break up the feta over the butternut evenly.
  • Drizzle with a little bit of white sauce, just in blobs. Don’t cover with too much sauce.
  • Another layer of lasagna sheets. Then do a layer of the chicken bits and then pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken, covering the chicken completely.
  • Another layer of lasagna sheets, then do a layer of the sweet potatoes and then top the sweet potatoes with the baby marrow and leek mixture. And drizzle with some white sauce.
  • Another layer of lasagna sheets and then top with mozzarella and the dried sweet basil.
  • Place the lid on your casserole (or cover with tin foil) and bake for 25 minutes. Take the lid / foil off after that and grill until the cheese turns golden brown and bubbles.
  • Rest for about 5 – 10 minutes in a warm place before serving.

Serves 6 – 8.

Pasticcio Macaronia (Baked Macaroni and Mince)

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A gorgeous layered dish of macaroni, mince and creamy sauce similar to lasagne. Serve in squares with greek salad and crusty bread!

For the meat sauce: 

2 Tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

500g beef mince

Salt, pepper,

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup red wine

1 can tomato pure’e

Chopped parsley

For the Cheese Sauce:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

4 cups milk (warmed)

salt and nutmeg

1 cup cheese

2 eggs, beaten

For the topping:

Grated cheddar cheese

Breadcrumbs

Slivers of butter

250g Macaroni  – cooked according to packet instructions.

– Fry the onion in the garlic and butter. Once the onions are soft, add the mince and stir until the colour has changed.

– Add the salt, pepper, and cinnamon  and stir to combine.

– Add the wine and cook for a minute and then add the tomato puree. Cook for 30 – 40  minutes on a low heat. Add the parsley at the end.

– For the cheese sauce, melt the butter and then add the flour. Stir until you get a paste. Slowly add warm milk and stir until thickened. Add salt and nutmeg. Remove from heat and add the cheese and stir in the beaten eggs.

– Grease a baking dish with butter and cover the base with half the cooked macaroni. Spread meat sauce over evenly and then pour half the cheese over the top. Top with the remaining macaroni and then pour the rest of the cheese sauce over it.

– To make the topping, mix the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the mince and macaroni and dot with butter.

– Bake uncovered at 170 C for 50 minutes until golden brown.

– Turn off the oven and leave to settle for 15 minutes and serve!

Recipe by Adele Koninis

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shank Pasta with Pesto

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I love this way of doing Lamb Shanks, as you still get the lamb shank experience, but with an amazing added dimension of the  soft pasta and herby pesto that compliments the lamb so well. You could also add mint to the pesto which will further compliment the lamb. ALSO – this is a great way of making lamb shank STRETCH!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.2kg lamb shanks

1 brown onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup (250ml) dry white wine

2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes

4 sprigs thyme

1 cup (250ml) water

375g dried lasagne sheets

125g buffalo mozzarella, torn

 

Pesto

3 cups basil leaves

½ cup (125ml) olive oil

⅓ cup (25g) finely grated parmesan

sea salt and cracked black pepper

a small handful of pine nuts

 

– To make the pesto, place the basil, oil, parmesan, pine nuts, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Set aside.

– Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the lamb and cook for 1–2 minutes each side or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

– Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes or until softened. Add the wine, tomato, thyme and water and stir to combine.

– Add the lamb back to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 – 3 hours or until the lamb is tender and falling off the bone.

– Remove the lamb from the pan and shred the meat from the bones with a fork, discarding the bones.

– Break the lasagne sheets into rough pieces and cook in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.

– Add the shredded lamb and sauce and toss to combine. Top with the buffalo mozzarella and spoon over the pesto to serve.

 

Serves 4–6

Recipe by Donna Hay

Tagliatelle Alla Carbonara

Pasta pic

I love how quick and easy pasta can be!  This recipe makes 2 large portions, so you can double or triple if making for more.

300g dried egg tagliatelle

6 slices proscuitto

100ml butter

100ml white wine

4 egg yolks

50g parmesan cheese, grated

50g pecorino cheese, freshly grated

Freshly ground black pepper

– Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente, as per the package instructions

– Meanwhile, tear the proscuitto into strips and fry in the butter until crispy. Add the wine and cook for a minute to form a sauce.

-Mix the grated parmesan and the grated pecorino cheese together and then divide the amount in half.

– Mix the 4 egg yolks with half the cheese, add a dash of black pepper and set aside.

– Mix the cooked, drained pasta (reserve a little bit of the water) into the sauce.

– Remove the pan from the stove and stir the egg mixture through. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. If you want to thin the sauce out a bit you can add a touch of that pasta water that you saved.

– Dish onto plates and divide the rest of the cheese between the portions and serve immediately.

– If you like you can add another egg yolk at the end, but thats up to you and your taste. I don’t do it 🙂

Rigatoni with Sweet Tomatoes, Aubergine and Mozzarella

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This is honestly one of the tastiest pasta recipes I have ever made. The Mozzarella thrown in at the last minute makes these beautiful long stringy bits of cheese when you dig in. It’s gloriously messy and just so divine!

1 firm ripe Aubergine (egg plant, brinjal)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of good quality Italian plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 2 fresh or dried chillies chopped or crumbled (optional)
A bunch of fresh basil, leaves ripped and stalks sliced
4 tbsp double cream
1 packet of rigatoni or penne pasta
200g cows milk mozzarella
Fresh Parmesan cheese for grating

– remove both ends of the Aubergine and slice it into 1cm thick slices, the. Slice these across and finely dice into 1cm cubes. Place the cubes in a colander in the sink and sprinkle ground sea salt onto the Aubergine chunks and allow to ‘sweat’ for 30 minutes. Rinse and put onto kitchen paper to absorb the excess water.

– in a large saucepan, drizzle in 4 – 5 tbsp olive oil. When it’s hot, add the Aubergine chunks. As soon as they hit the pan stir around with a spoon so that they get coated gently in oil and not soaked on one side only. Cook for about 7-8 minutes on a medium heat. Then add the garlic and onion. When they have a little color add the tinned tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Stir around and season carefully with salt and pepper. At this point, if you wanted to give the dish a little heat you could add some chopped fresh or crumbled dry chilli, but that’s up to you.

– add the basil stalks, and simmer the sauce nice and gently for around 15 minutes, then add the cream.

– while the sauce is simmering, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions until it is soft but still holding its shape, then drain it, saving a little of the cooking water. I like to put the pasta back into the pot it was cooked in with a tiny bit of the cooking water and a drizzle of olive oil and move it around so it becomes almost dressed with the water and oil.

– at this point add the lovely tomato sauce to the pasta. By now the aubergines will have cooked into a creamy tomatoey pulp, which is just so delicious. Season carefully to taste with salt and pepper.

– tear up the mozzarella and the basil leaves and fold them in, let it sit for 30 seconds and serve immediately with grated Parmesan on top.

Recipe by Jamie Oliver

Steak and Risoni Salad

Beef And Risoni Salad

This is a great way to make a steak stretch in our home! It’s also a really healthy meal and because there is yummy steak in it, the boys in your home won’t moan and groan because they are getting salad for dinner!  It’s a super quick and easy meal too!

400g rump steak

olive oil

1 punnet snow peas or green beans

1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

100g feta, crumbled

2 big handfuls baby spinach or rocket, or a combination of both

60ml basil pesto

30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice

250g risoni pasta (pasta rice) cooked and drained

 

– Season the meat with some sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper and fry in a hot pan or braai or griddle pan until done to your liking. Set aside to rest.

– Blanch the snow peas or green beans for 1 – 2 minutes, then place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Mix together with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

– Slice the steak against the grain and gently stir into  the salad. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil if you like and serve.

 

Recipe from the Ideas Magazine

Creamy Steak, Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Pasta

Creamy beef and mushroom pasta

 

If I say the words “left over steak” in my home, my husband and son both shout with excitement “STEAK SANDWICHES!!”.  *sigh*… So I decided to switch it up a bit over the weekend with some left over steak that I had. It worked brilliantly and I think I may have opened their minds to being able to do more with leftover steak! You can OBVIOUSLY make the steak fresh if you are making this meal. (I would recommend it) but this also worked perfectly well with leftovers and it was done in 20 minutes!

 

400g Steak

1 punnet brown mushrooms, sliced

1 Tub Creme fraiche

1 tsp dijon mustard

5 or 6 sundried tomatoes in oil (drained and chopped up into small bits)

1 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove, crushed

half tsp (2.5ml) paprika

Freshly ground salt and pepper

Fresh parmesan for sprinkling

2 sprigs thyme, leaves striped

500g pasta – cooked according to package instructions (Penne works well, or shells, or farfalle)

 

– Bring a pot of water to the boil with 1 tsp salt and add your pasta

– If using fresh steak, cook your steak to your liking with some salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside

– Add the butter to the pan with the garlic and paprika, thyme leaves and mushroom slices and cook until almost soft.

– Add the sundried tomatoes and stir.

– Add the Creme fraiche and the mustard  and stir to combine.

– Slice the steak up and add to the pan. Stir and season to taste.

– Drain the pasta, keep a little bit of the pasta water and put the drained pasta back in the pot you cooked it in. Pour about 2 Tbsp of the pasta water into your cream mixture and then add all of that mixture into the pasta and stir until its all combined well.

– Divide into serving bowls and sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper and freshly grated parmesan.

Serves 4