Sicilian Style Cherry Tomato Linguine

I’ve always been pasta mad! In my mind, if you don’t love a bit of pasta there’s something inherently wrong with you, or you’re just not making it right. No offense intended.

Now you can either make your own pasta or you can buy some from your local supermarket. The supermarket stuff can be great to be honest and if your time poor it’s a great way of getting that pasta hit without the hassle of making your own. Although, I would say that with a bit of time management you can whip up some great pasta the day before and from there it only takes 10 mins to make a great spaghetti, tagliatelle or linguine. Either way I am not a snob when it comes to pasta. You choose what you like.

 

The other most important aspect of a great pasta dish is making sure you have a delicious sauce to go with it. There are so many to choose from and sometimes a simple sauce is all that’s needed. From a stay at home dad point of view, the quick sauce is usually the best and least ammount of effort at the end of hard day entertaining the kids. By the time the kids say they are hungry you know it’s too late and within minutes I know I am going to have hangry kids. This meal takes a maximum of 30 mins from start to finish. I am pretty quick at prepping as I have had plenty of practise. If you are better than me and have planned your time more effectively today and have fiven yourself time to get this dinner done, this dinner is low effort and great with a glass wine.

 

Recipe ( Serves 4-6)

One tin of cherry tomatoes (You can use chopped tomatoes here instead )

Half Onion – Diced

Half Aubergine/Egg plant – Sliced and diced in to small cubes

1 carrot – sliced and diced in to cubes

Half Large Courgette – Sliced and diced in to small cubes

1 Red Pepper – Sliced and diced in to small cubes

1 tbsp tomato puree concentrate

Salt and Pepper to taste

150g Bacon lardons (Can leave or replace to go vegetarian)

Mozzarella mini balls/ 1 large Mozzarella cut in to small pieces

150ml water

Pack of linguine or homemade pasta of your choice

 

Herbs & Spices – You can be as simple or elaborate as you want – Here’s what I add

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp onion granules

1 tsp garlic granules (You can use fresh garlic here – 3 to 4 crushed and diced gloves0

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp dill

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp  chives

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp rosemary

 

Method

  1. Prep the vegetables and start to boil a saucepan of salted water. Also, preheat a large frying on a high to medium heat with a tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil.
  2. Fry the bacon lardons until browning and crispy. Remove the lardons, keeping the oil in the pan. This will give the veg some flavour. When I do the vegetarian version, I replace the bacon with some quorn or mince and use some vegetable stock.
  3. Add the cubed and diced vegatables to the pan and turn down the heat to medium. Fry, constantly moving the veg, for about 5 mins until they soften. Add the tomato puree and cook for 2 mins making sure you get a even mix across the vegetables.
  4. the bacon back to the pan, along with with tin of cherry tomatoes. At this point add the linguine to the boiling salted water. These cook for about 9-11 mins if your using the dried, shop bought packs. Fresh pasta takes minutes to cook so adjust the time you put the lingiune on accordingly.
  5. Add the herbs and spices. If you want a more grown up version, or your kids can take a spice of spice, add some flaked chillis to the pan. Add the water and let the sauce simmer for the time the linguine is cooking.
  6. When the linguine is cooked, drain and add a bit of pepper. Put the liguine in the sauce and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.
  7. Finally, add the mozzarella to the pan of pasta. Stir until the mozzarella is melted and stringy throughout the pasta.

Pasta for me isn’t complete without a bit on salty, tangy cheese on top. I used Parmigiano-Reggiano which has a great flavour to top this dish. This dish serves four hungry people of you can be sensible and serve a few normal size dishes to 6 people.

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Homemade Meat feast Pizza

Meat Feast Pizza Recipe

This is my go to recipe for pizza dough. It is tried and tested, and it’s superb. My kids favourite pizza is a meat feast from dominoes. This is far cheaper and much more fun, I let the kids help out and we have it on a saturday night watching Strictly Come Dancing. For this occasion I made some coconut coleslaw which helps cut through all the meat and cheese. It’s the perfect pairing in my opinion.

Ingredients (Makes 2 x 12 inch pizzas)

300g Strong White Bread Flour (You can get 1.5kg for less than a £1)

200ml of warm water (I just combine half boiling and half cold water)

2 Tbsp Rapeseed Oil (You can use olive oil if you prefer)

10g Sea Salt

1 Tbsp of Sugar

1 Sachet of Fast Acting Yeast

Toppings

2 pork sausages (empty the meat from the sausage, season with oregano or spices and roll into small balls)

Serrano Ham

1 cooked chicken breast

16 slices pepperoni

150g grated mozzarella

Extras – Coconut Coleslaw See full recipe and method here

Half red cabbage

Half Onion

1 Whole carrot

1 tub of natural yoghurt

1 packet of desiccated coconut ( You can buy yoghurt with the coconut already incorporated)

1 tsp dried mint

1 tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp honey

1 tsp garlic granules

Method

  1. Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix well, but be careful not to put the salt directly onto the yeast. I put the yeast in first, mix and then add the salt.
  2. Add the liquids and mix and knead until they combine to form a smooth, elastic dough.
  3. Rest in the mixing bowl for 30 mins. Make sure it is covered with food wrap or a tea towel.
  4. Use some flour to dust a clean work surface. Scrape out the dough with a plastic spatula. You can use your hands if you want. You now need to knead your dough for about 15-20mins.
  5. Place back into the mixing bowl to rest for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 220C (200 for fan assisted), Gas mark 7 or 425 F.
  6. Knock out the dough by flattening hit out with your palms and then use your fingers to poke dimples in the dough.
  7. Dust a clean work top with flour. Cut dough into two halves and use a rolling pin to stretch out the dough.
  8. Dust a round pizza tray with flour and place your dough on tray and fold the edges to make your crust. Use a fork and poke the pizza before adding the tomato base and cheese. 
  9. Add the pizza toppings. Cook for 15-20mins, Hey presto, you have a pizza that’s far better than a shop bought pizza. I would say it rivals any takeout or restaurant pizza

Friday Night Dinner Recipes: Risotto and Sea bass

Friday Night Dinner Recipes: Risotto and Sea bass

Sea Bass with Prawn and Smoked Salmon Risotto

A Healthy Recipe in 20 Minutes

Sea Bass with Prawn and Smoked Salmon Risotto is one of our ‘go to’ meals on a Friday night. It is the upgrade to my Smoked salmon and prawn risotto for lunch recipe. It’s a nice, healthy recipe that’s easy to make and you can show off if you have friends over. I never get any complaints when I cook this.

It’s pretty cheap for a Friday night dinner and way better than dropping £10-20 for a meal for 2, which quite often leaves you a little underwhelmed and craving for a little more taste. This costings me about a £10 and feeds 4 easily. Or two extra big, greedy portions!

The other bonus, just like my lunch version below, is that it is a healthier version of a risotto I used to make with shed loads of cream and cheese. I hope I am ticking a few boxes for you here. It definitely packs a punch in the taste department. There’s a few extra nuggets of decadence in this recipe from the lunch one. When you watch the many cooking shows on TV you always see the judges saying how to elevate a dish with this or that. So I have experimented with a bit of this and that and settled on this current recipe. For this recipe you going to need to keep a little of that Sauvignon Blanc that you’ve opened. That’s the first key extra! Sounds good already doesn’t it.

Just one bit of advice if you want to have a cracking Saturday lunch – put a little extra risotto aside to make these Baked Arancini tomorrow. Just another bonus about making this dish. Leftovers are what makes a dish great, especially when it’s another healthier recipe.

Ingredients

300g risotto (Arborio rice)

500ml stock (Chicken/Vegetable oxo cube dissolved in boiling hot water)

100ml of good white wine (I prefer a Sauvignon Blanc)

2 shallots (finely diced)

2 mushrooms (finely diced)

2 cloves of garlic/ 2 tsp garlic granules

Fresh or dried dill

Fresh or dried fennell

50g low fat cream cheese

50g parmesan

75-100g of smoked salmon

10-15 king sized prawns

Seabass

Half tsp Fennel

Pinch of Garlic granules

Seasoning – Salt/Pepper to taste

Risotto Method

  1. Gentle fry the mushrooms and shallots in some rapeseed or olive oil until softened.
  2. Add the rice and fry at a medium heat for 2-3 mins until the oil is absorbed. This allows the rice to soften and absorb the flavour from the stock. Then add the wine and cook until it is absorbed.
  3. If you’re being fussy you can add the stock a little at a time waiting until the rice has absorbed the stock before adding more and gently stirring. For this recipe you can just add the stock and let it cook for approximately 20 mins. Make sure to keep an eye on it as it only takes a moment or to spoil.
  4. Once the stock has been absorbed add the smoked salmon and prawns with the herbs and cook for another 3-4 mins continually stirring.
  5. Add the cream cheese and stir until it has been dissolved in the risotto.
  6. Grate the parmesan into the risotto and serve immediately.

Seabass

  1. Season the fish with a little salt and pepper just before cooking.
  2. Heat the frying pan until very hot, then add 2 tbsp oil. Lay the fish fillets in the pan, skin-side down. As soon as it goes in, press each fillet down with your fingers or a fish slice to stop it from curling up.
  3. Add the fennel and the garlic. It does not take long to cook depending on the size and thickness of the fillet. I cook for about 2 mins and then take off the heat and turn the fillet over whilst I dish the risotto on to the plate. The residual heat of the pan will cook the flesh of the sea bass but will not burn it or dry it out.
Seafood risotto lunch

Prawn and Smoked Salmon Risotto – Healthy Recipe

Prawn and Smoked Salmon Risotto Lunch

A Healthy Recipe in 20 Minutes

Smoked salmon and prawn risotto for lunch is just one of those lunches that hit the spot. It’s a nice, healthy, and filling lunch that will fill you up but won’t weigh you down for the day. The best part – it’s easy to make and will make you look like a superstar cook if you have company to share it with.

My family love this and although I like it for a bit of lunch, it’s also great on a larger scale with some sea bass on a Friday night. I do add a couple of fancy extras for the Friday night recipe, plus it usually comes with a nice glass of wine to relax for the weekend.

My wife used to make the risottos in our house until about a year ago when I fancied giving it a go. I have always been a fan of great Italian food. I used to stick to my favourites: creamy, cheesy pasta or tomato pasta. My skills in cooking Italian dishes have moved on a bit the last year or so. It is easy to get stuck making the same old dishes that you love over and and over again; it gets a little tedious eventually and you lose appreciation of the how varied Italian cooking is if you’re not careful. Hence my foray into cooking a little more adventurously started with this risotto recipe. Originally, I made it with some cream, but as I am not supposed to have that anymore, I created this version. It uses low fat cream cheese as a substitute, which actually gave it a lot more flavour. I use less Parmesan that I used to as well which cuts the fat content down but you still get that rich flavour. Less is more as they say. I keep this recipe simple as well with just a bit of dill to highlight the seafood flavours from the smoked salmon and prawns. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with this lunch favourite.

You can check out my spruced up Friday night risotto here.

Just one bit of advice if you want to have a cracking Saturday lunch – put a little extra risotto aside to make these Baked Arancini tomorrow. Just another bonus about making this dish. Leftovers are what makes a dish great, especially when it’s another healthier recipe.

Ingredients

300g risotto (Arborio rice)

500ml stock (Chicken/Vegetable oxo cube dissolved in boiling hot water)

2 shallots (finely diced)

2 mushrooms (finely diced)

2 cloves of garlic/ 2 tsp garlic granules

Fresh or dried dill

Fresh or dried fennell

50g low fat cream cheese

50g parmesan

75-100g of smoked salmon

10-15 king sized prawns

Method

  1. Gentle fry the mushrooms and shallots in some rapeseed or olive oil until softened.
  2. Add the rice and fry at a medium heat for 2-3 mins until the oil is absorbed. This allows the rice to soften and absorb the flavour from the stock.
  3. If you’re being fussy you can add the stock a little at a time waiting until the rice has absorbed the stock before adding more and gently stirring. For this recipe you can just add the stock and let it cook for approximately 20 mins. Make sure to keep an eye on it as it only takes a moment or to spoil.
  4. Once the stock has been absorbed, add the smoked salmon and prawns with the herbs and cook for another 3-4 mins continually stirring.
  5. Add the cream cheese and stir until it has been dissolved in the risotto.
  6. Grate the parmesan into the risotto and serve immediately.
Arancini

Oven Baked Arancini

Oven Baked Arancini

Whenever I make risotto I make too much. I do it on purpose! I love it so much and I know I am going to get those flavours in a slightly different way the day after. Arancini is my wife’s favourite dish to order as a starter or light lunch when we go out for dinner. If it’s on the menu, she is going to order it. I never made it the conventional way in a deep fryer but I have tasted the full fat version when nicking a taste from the wife’s plate. The acidity of the feta and cream cheese sit lovely with my homemade arancini dip. I am usually lost for words when I eat these lovely creamy rice balls. I just wished I had tried more of them before I couldn’t go near the deep fried kind. That doesn’t mean that the oven baked variety I now make are lesser vessels of loveliness. Yes, you can tell they haven’t been deep fried – there’s no way around that, but in this case (and mine) it’s a good thing. All the taste and crisp breadcrumbs, but without all the nasty, hip hugging fat.

As you can see in the photo, arancini make a cracking lunch or dinner. This time I make it with a side salad, roasted mini portobello mushroom and a simple serrano wrapped chicken breast. Yum!

Recipe

Leftover risotto – Usually about 100-150g

Feta cheese

Plain flour

2 eggs

Breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Refrigerate your leftover risotto overnight.
  2. Prep the flour and breadcrumbs into separate bowls. Preheat your oven to 180 C Fan assisted.
  3. Roughly chop the feta cheese and incorporate into the risotto.
  4. Roll the risotto into evenly sized balls.
  5. Coat the balls in flour and then in the whisked egg. Place directly into the breadcrumbs and gently roll until the balls are covered.
  6. Spray the balls with some low calorie oil. I use a vaporiser to spray a small amount of rapeseed oil.
  7. Cook in the centre of the oven for 20-25mins.

Dipping sauce (Extra)

¼ Chopped tomatoes or passata

1 Shallot

1 tsp Garlic granules or 1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp Light Soy sauce

Chicken stock cube in 75 ml of boiling water

4 Olives

Fresh Basil

Method

  1. Finely hop the shallot and place on a low heat in a saucepan with a small amount of oil. Heat until the shallots are browning. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 mins.
  2. Use a hand blender to blend the chopped tomatoes or use passata. Add to the onions.
  3. Add the soy sauce and chicken stock and simmer for 10 mins
  4. Crush or roughly chop the olives and add to the sauce. Simmer for a further 3-5 mins
  5. Chop or tear the basil leaves and add to the sauce and cook until the basil wilts.
  6. Serve as a dip or over the top of the arancini with some shaved parmesan.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe

Who doesn’t love pizza! It is just one of those lazy foods that we pick up or order in so we don’t have to do much cooking. Yep, it is one of our family favourites. I feed the kids this on swimming night. It’s easy to make, delicious, and making it fresh doesn’t take as long as you would think. The only effort is in the keading, and if you’ve made bread before this will come easy.

This recipe is my own, but I am not ashamed to say that I’ve cooked many online recipes prior to creating this to make sure I knew what I was doing. This creation is the best I’ve made a pizza. The pizza base is light and crispy but without being paper thin. It definitely leaves you filling fulfilled but not weighed down.

I shall leave the toppings up to you. I’ve gone with a mozzarella and pepperoni on top of my own homemade tomato sauce. I will post that up soon.

Ingredients

300g Strong White Bread Flour (You can get 1.5kg for less than a £1)

200ml of warm water (I just combine half boiling and half cold water)

2 Tbsp Rapeseed Oil (You can use olive oil if you prefer)

10g Sea Salt

1 Tbsp of Sugar

1 Sachet of Fast Acting Yeast

Method

  1. Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix well, but be careful not to put the salt directly onto the yeast. I put the yeast in first, mix and then add the salt.
  2. Add the liquids and mix and knead until they combine to form a smooth, elastic dough.
  3. Rest in the mixing bowl for 30 mins. Make sure it is covered with food wrap or a tea towel.
  4. Use some flour to dust a clean work surface. Scrape out the dough with a plastic spatula. You can use your hands if you want. You now need to knead your dough for about 15-20mins.
  5. Place back into the mixing bowl to rest for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 220C (200 for fan assisted), Gas mark 7 or 425 F.
  6. Knock out the dough by flattening hit out with your palms and then use your fingers to poke dimples in the dough.
  7. Dust a clean work top with flour. Cut dough into two halves and use a rolling pin to stretch out the dough.
  8. Dust a round pizza tray with flour and place your dough on tray and folder the edges to make your crust.
  9. Add the pizza toppings. Cook for 15-20mins, Hey presto, you have a pizza that’s far better than a shop bought pizza. I would say it rivals any takeout or restaurant pizza