Chargrilled Vegetable Pasta

Left over dips and a zest free lemon

What is a person to do with a spoonful of olive dip, a couple of spoons of aubergine and red pepper dip and a zestless lemon?

Chargrilled veg pasta

Add a few other ingredients and create an awesome pasta dish, that’s what!

This is a bit of an unfair recipe really, because unless you’ve made the olive dip and the aubergine and red pepper dip that I’ve previously posted, and have some leftover, then you won’t be able to make this exact dish.

Still, I decided to post anyway partly because those factors might have aligned for you, but perhaps more to demonstrate the fundamental principle that making pasta sauce is a good way to use up leftover dips like these, or salsa, or a bean dip, or any other non-creamy dip really.

Orange bell pepper and artichokes in oil

Ingredients
Enough pasta for your serving requirements
3-4 tablespoons of leftover dips (the non-creamy variety)
1 red onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
A splash or two of olive oil
Passata – probably about 150-200ml
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
A couple of squeezes of lemon juice
Vegetables for chargrilling – I used an orange bell pepper and some artichokes in lemon oil but courgettes, aubergines and the like would be great too.
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Music

Put your pasta on to cook – follow instructions on packet – when ready, drain and keep warm.

Chargrilled vegetables

Meanwhile, brush your chosen vegetables with oil and cook on a very hot griddle or grill, until chargrilled.  Conveniently, this should take about the same amount of time as it does for the pasta to cook and for you to make the sauce 🙂

If they’re done sooner, pop them on a plate and keep them warm.

Red onion, thyme and garlic

Heat a splash of oil in a large pan and cooked the diced onions until just starting to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for a few more moments.

Passata

Add your leftover dips and enough passata to loosen the mixture but not make it runny – today we’re making a coating sauce, not a bowl of soup 😉

Tip in your cooked pasta and gently stir to make sure it’s all well coated with sauce.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle over the thyme leaves, stir and allow to warm through for another minute or so.

Arrange vegetables on top

Season to taste and serve with chargrilled vegetables arranged on top.

Beam with pride – by using up leftovers instead of leaving them at the back of the fridge to fester quietly into the afterlife, you did a little bit to help the planet.

Tuck into your dinner with gusto (or some other dining companion if you prefer 😉 )

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Roasted Aubergine and Red Pepper Dip

It’s one of life’s little pleasures to hear people making ‘nomnom’ noises as they’re devouring food that you’ve cooked – wouldn’t you agree?

This dip makes people do that and it’s easier than pie to make (much easier…why do they even say ‘easy as pie’?)

Roast aubergine & red pepper dipIngredients

For Roasting
1 aubergine (egg plant), cut into chunks
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced (not too small!)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and kept whole
1 teaspoon chilli powder
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
A slosh of olive oil

For the Food Processor (or Mortar & Pestle)
1 tablespoon tomato purée (the stuff you get in the squeezy toothpaste type tube)
A small handful of fresh coriander leaves
A good glug of olive oil (which is more than a slosh, in case you’re wondering)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Music

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/425°F/220°C

Using your hands, mix together all the ‘for roasting’ ingredients.mix ingredients together

It’s a good idea to do this in the tin that you’ll be roasting in – that way you don’t spend ages trying to scrape the spices off the side of a bowl.
And it’s one less thing to wash up.  See how I look after you?  You’re welcome. 😉
Spread everything in an even layer and slam onto the middle shelf of your preheated oven.

roast until just starting to blacken

Roast for around 35-40 minutes, or until things are just starting to blacken at the edges. Allow to cool in the tray for 10 minutes or so.

tip into food processor

Tip roasted vegetables into a food processor together with the tomato purée, coriander leaves, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a healthy amount of black pepper.

Blitz, taste, adjust seasoning, blitz again if necessary; bear in mind this is nicer when it’s still got some texture to it rather than being completely smooth.

aubergine & red pepper dip

Tip into a serving dish and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Divine Black Olive Dip

Wrong olives and right olives

I picked up the wrong olives and ended up with those nasty, rubbery, flavourless ones instead of softly wrinkled, salty ones.

Somewhat loathe to throw away a whole jar of olives, even exceedingly bad ones, I came up with this dip-which-is-nearly-but-not-quite-a-tapenade (no anchovies).  Having done so, I’m now dying to try it using some good olives; something that tastes this good with a bad base ingredient is going to taste utterly sublime with an excellent one!

Ingredients
Approx. 120g black olives (if these are of poor quality you’ll also need a handful of sea salt)
1 tablespoon capers
1-2 garlic cloves
A couple of sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
½ lemon, juice only
A splosh of olive oil
Music

If you’ve got the horrid type of olives like I had (see top picture) there’s first going to have to be some salting action.  If you have decent olives, skip this step.

sprinkle liberally with salt

Tip the olives into a nylon (not metal!) sieve, drain off the liquid and set over a bowl.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt, cover with a plate and weight down with whatever heavy thing you have that will work – children and pets not advised.  Set to one side for a minimum of 2 hours, longer if possible.

Before using, give the olives a quick rinse to wash off any excess salt – there’s plenty more of that going to be coming from the capers 🙂

Black olive dip ingredients

Place olives and all other ingredients into a food processor or mortar & pestle; use only a little olive oil to start with and add more as required to achieve desired consistency.

Pulse or pound until smoothish.

Black olive dip and pitta bread

Tip into a bowl and serve with warm pitta bread.

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Cooling Minty Cucumber Sauce

This is a great dip or sauce to have alongside spicy foods like curries or koftas.  Provide huge bowls of it for the weak of taste bud amongst your kith and kin – you know, those who prefer bland food and freak out at the sight of a chilli 😉

Minty cucumber sauce

It takes minutes to make and can be eaten immediately; however, it does benefit from being allowed to sit a while before consumption…the flavours get a chance to meld together that way.

Ingredients
Around 5 tablespoons natural yoghurt
Around 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or just use an extra couple of spoons of yoghurt)
Approx. 2 inch piece of cucumber, finely diced
A sprig of mint leaves, finely chopped
A squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

Music on?  I bet you’ll have this made before the track’s finished…

Ready?  Set?  Go…

Ingredients

Put everything (including the lemon juice, which is not apparent in this picture), into a bowl.

Mix, taste, adjust seasoning as required.

Cooling minty cucumber sauce

Bish, bash, bosh…your sauce is ready 😀
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Quick and Tasty Beef Koftas

Looking for a winning dish for dinner?

Cooked beef koftas

In that case, you should know that these beef koftas are almost effortless to whip up; the bulk of the time it takes to make them is actually the 30 minutes chilling time. Winner.

They don’t seem that effortless to the people eating them, who will demonstrate their appreciation of your ‘slaving’ over dinner by showering you with attention and affection.  Win, win.

They’ll probably do the washing up too.  Win, win, win.

Of course, they taste amazing too.  Win, win, win, win.

Well, would you look at that!  It would appear that the beef koftas are quadruple winners!  There’s clearly no need for you to continue your search for a dinner dish, which is happy news, because by now you must be very hungry.  I shall delay you no longer and will proceed to tell you how to make this scrumptious meal…

Kofta ingredients

Serves 3-6 people, depending on accompanying dishes

Ingredients
500g minced beef
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-4 green chillies, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon harissa paste (If I’d had harissa paste in the stores I’d have used it, and the dish would have benefited from it, so I’ve included it here)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 wooden skewers
Music

Done your onion and chilli chopping?  Ok then, let’s get this show on the road…

Mix ingredients by hand

Throw everything (apart from the skewers) into a bowl and use your hands to mix well.

Shape onto skewers

Divide the mix into 12 rough balls then form into oval shapes on the wooden skewers (or make into patties if you don’t have any skewers).

Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Beef koftas

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or grill and cook for around 8-12 minutes on a medium to high heat, turning to ensure they’re browned all over.

Job’s a good ‘un!

Beef koftas with Mediterranean dips

Served here with a minty cucumber sauce*, pitta bread and a selection of Mediterranean dips*.

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* Recipes to follow shortly 🙂

Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese Sauce

This recipe arose due to the need to use up several bits and pieces in the Renegade stores – the cheese and cream being the main driving factors.
Oh the hardship 😉
The resulting dish turned out to be very quick and easy to make, but felt like a real treat – another great midweek meal.

Chicken with mushrooms and blue cheese sauceServes 2

Ingredients
2 skinless chicken breasts
a sprinkling of olive oil
6-8 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 knobs of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75-100ml white wine
1 chicken stockpot/stock cube
2 dessert spoons (ish) of crème fraîche – leave it out if you don’t have any
1 large tablespoon of cream cheese – I used chive flavoured Philadelphia
100-125ml double cream
125-150g gorgonzola, cubed – or other blue cheese of your choice
2 teaspoons of fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Depending on the cheese you use, and how much of it, you may also need a couple of heaped teaspoons of cornflour, mixed to a runny paste with a little cold water, to thicken the sauce

Music

First you need to butterfly your chicken breasts.

Place your hand flat on top of the chicken – this holds it still and keeps your fingers out of the way at the same time.

Use a sharp pointed knife, and starting at the fat end of the breast, slice across the chicken, almost but not quite cutting it in half. It should still be joined at one edge and you should be able to open it up like a book – or a butterfly’s wings.

cover with cling flim and bash

Once you’ve done that, cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin.  Not too much – you want to tenderise and flatten it, not pulp and obliterate it.

Rub lightly with olive oil and cook on a preheated grill, turning once, for around 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

mushrooms

Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a large pan and heat until it foams.

Add your sliced mushrooms in a single layer and cook, turning once, until both sides are beautifully browned.  Remove from pan but keep warm.

sauce ingredients

Make your sauce by melting a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat then cooking the crushed garlic for a minute or so.

Add wine and stockpot/cube and heat until stockpot has melted.

Add cream cheese, crème fraîche, cream and blue cheese and continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese has melted.  Do not allow to boil.

If necessary, thicken with a little cornflour paste.

Stir in chopped parsley and plenty of black pepper.

Chicken mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Place cooked chicken breast onto a warmed plate, arrange sautéed mushrooms on top and pour over the blue cheese sauce.

Chicken breast with mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Served with petit pois and green beans sautéed in herb butter, and oven baked sweet potato chips.

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Blue cheese, pear and pancetta salad

With only one to cater for, the focus for Day 4 of the Cupboard Challenge was to use up some of the really small portions of stuff.  In the end it was a quick and simple affair.  Just like this post 😉

Quantities are for one serving.

Ingredients
1 ripe pear
A hunk of Stilton or other blue cheese, similar size to the pear
A handful of cubed pancetta
Baby spinach or other green salad leaves
A handful of walnut pieces (optional)

Dressing ingredientsFor the dressing
2 dessert spoons mayonnaise
1 dessert spoon natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon mustard
A splash of balsamic dressing (or just balsamic vinegar)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

This won’t take long, so press play and let’s get movin’…DressingPut all the dressing ingredients into a small jar, tighten lid and shake vigorously.  Or put them into a small bowl and stir energetically.

Adjust seasoning according to taste – bear in mind the saltiness provided by the cheese and pancetta to the end dish.

That’s your dressing done.Cubed pancettaHeat a frying pan and cook the pancetta cubes over a medium to high heat until brown and crispy.  Set to one side on kitchen roll.

Toasted walnuts would have been the ideal finishing touch for this salad, so even though we had none in, and thus I didn’t use any, I’ve included them in the ingredient list.  In hindsight, I should have used the toasted sunflower seeds that we do have in to provide that glorious contrasting crunch.

If you have some nuts or seeds in the house and you want to use them to top the salad, now is the time to toast them…a quick shake ‘n’ stir over a high heat in a dry frying pan will do the job.
Pear and StiltonQuarter and core (but don’t peel) the pear.  Cube both pear and blue cheese and place in a bowl.

This picture shows sun dried tomatoes strewn over the dish.  I advise against this - the texture was all wrong and their flavour jarred with the rest.  
This picture shows sun dried tomatoes strewn over the dish. I advise against this – the texture was all wrong and their flavour jarred with the rest.

Pour dressing over the cheese and pears; stir gently to combine.

Make a little bed on your plate with the salad leaves, pile the dressed cheese and pears onto it, and scatter the pancetta (and nuts, if using) over the top.

That’s it, you’re done!

Grab a fork and eat.

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Rugged Peas (peas with mint and chilli)

My take on the peas served by a certain casual dining chain that specialises in chicken dishes.  This is a case of imitation being a form of flattery – I love their peas but really can’t dine out as frequently as my desire for them would dictate. So…

Rugged peas and cod goujonRugged peas as an accompaniment to a cod goujon.

Ingredients
Enough frozen peas to fulfil your serving requirements
3-4 red chillies, finely chopped (adjust quantities according to the chilli type you’re using and the heat levels you like)
4 leafy stems of fresh mint – 3 whole and 1 with the leaves stripped and finely chopped
Small knob of butter

Boil peas, together with 3 whole stems of mint, until cooked (times vary from brand to brand).

Drain, removing and discarding mint.

Using a fork, coarsely mash half of the peas.

Melt butter in pan over a low heat and cook chopped chillies for a few seconds.

Add mashed peas, whole peas and chopped mint, stirring to combine well.

Serve.

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