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 😉 )

x

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 😀
x

Bresaola, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

In a ‘gotta try something new’ state of mind I was browsing the virtual shelves of our online supermarket when I stumbled across something called bresaola. What a find!

If you haven’t done so yet, you should try it (make this recipe).  If you have…damn you for keeping it a secret from me! 😉

BresaolaHow would I describe it?  Well, it’s air dried, salt beef, served sliced very, veeerry thinly and usually quite simply dressed.  At the risk of bringing the wrath of real foodies upon my head for my failure to note all the subtleties, I’d say it’s kinda like a delicious beef version of Parma ham.

Isn’t that colour something special?

PearsThese beautifully ripe, russet skinned Taylor’s Gold pears seemed like a perfect partner for the cured beef.

GorgonzolaAnd to top things off, runny, ripe Gorgonzola providing a delicious, tangy contrast to the sweet pears and the salty beef.

Bresaola, gorgonzola and pear saladPour over a honey mustard & lemon dressing and it all comes together beautifully 🙂


Ingredients
10-12 slices bresaola
2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced (skin on)
100-150g gorgonzola (or other blue cheese), cut into chunks/crumbled
1 lemon, juice only
A glug of olive oil
A small knob of butter
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Watercress or other edible greenery
A handful of mixed cherry tomatoes
Music

Toss pear slices in a tablespoon or so of the lemon juice.

Cooked pearsHeat oil and butter in a frying pan and cook pear over a medium to high heat, until edges are turning brown.  Remove from pan and set to one side.

Dressing ingredientsMake dressing by mixing together remaining lemon juice, mustard and honey until well combined.  Season to taste.

Bresaola, pear and gorgonzola saladArrange watercress, tomatoes and bresaola on plate, scatter over cheese, top with pears and drizzle over dressing.

Feast!
x

Cucumber & Dill Salad

D’you know what?  I’ve absolutely nothing to say!  How astoundingly rare.

So, I’ll just cut to the chase and get on with the recipe…

No quantities in the ingredients list as it all depends on how many you’re serving and how much you like the salad…judge by eye and taste and you shouldn’t go wrong 🙂

Ingredients
Cucumber, cut into slices
Fresh dill, finely chopped
Soured cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

The first thing you need to do is find your sieve and balance it over a bowl.  Don’t use a metal one!

We’re going to disgorge the cucumbers – this is just a posh way of saying we’re going to get some of the water out of them.  It will give a salty flavour and softer texture to the cucumber.

Cucumber and saltPlace a layer of cucumber slices into the sieve and sprinkle with salt.

Salted cucumberKeep layering cucumber and salt until you have enough, or you’ve filled your sieve, whichever comes first.

Now place a small plate over the top and put something heavy-ish on top to weight it down.  Set to one side for 2-3 hours.

Disgorged cucumberAfter a few hours, when plenty of water has drained from the cucumber, remove slices from sieve and lay out on kitchen towel – gently pat dry.

Some people rinse the slices before drying in order to remove some of the salt – I think this is unnecessary but you may wish to do so.

Soured cream and dillIn a bowl that will be large enough to accommodate your cucumber slices, mix together soured cream and chopped dill.

Add cucumber slices and a good dose of black pepper and gently mix.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use – ideally give it 30 minutes to an hour to allow flavours to blend.

People tend to come by and ‘just try a bit’ so consider setting a guard dog on duty beside the fridge to ensure there’s still enough salad left when you come to serve it.

with salmon en crouteYou may find a little water continues to seep from the cucumbers after mixing with the soured cream – don’t worry, just before serving give everything one last stir.  Taste again to check seasoning is still good and serve with dish of your choice.

Cucumber and dill salad shown here served with mini salmon en croute.  It also makes an excellent, cooling, side dish to go with spicy foods.

Enjoy!
x

Stinky mushrooms (mushrooms in blue cheese)

Day 7 of the Cupboard Challenge presented an unmotivated Renegade household with mushrooms and blue cheese that urgently needed using up…it really had to be stinky mushrooms.  This was absolutely no hardship, because stinky mushrooms are flippin’ delicious!

They make the perfect, easy wind down meal for a stay-in Friday (she says, as if on a ‘normal’ Friday social fluttering is the standard order of things – there are  pandas with more active social lives than mine).  These mushrooms also make a great starter when served in individual dishes and browned off under a hot grill.

For this meal we had them with baked potatoes.  If you’re planning to do the same and they’re not yet ready, I suggest you whack those spuds into the oven straight away.  Now bugger off to do something else until 10 minutes before they’re done.

Back so soon?

To serve two

Ingredients
5-6 decent sized mushrooms (chestnut ones are great but we only had white ones in)
A knob of butter and a little oil
Approx 150ml Single cream
1 teaspoon-ish mustard
A chunk of blue cheese – cubed
A tiny end piece of Parmesan – grated (optional)
A handful of fresh parsley – roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

MushroomsClean or peel mushrooms, and slice.
Browned mushrooms

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan then add the mushrooms.

If you want to make sure you get beautifully browned fungi, remember Julia’s edict: “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” 😉  Cook in batches; drain on kitchen roll.

Cheese sauce ingredients

Cheese sauceWipe the pan clean with kitchen roll.  Add cream, cheese (both blue and Parmesan, if using) and mustard; stir over a low heat until cheese has melted.

Add mushrooms back into pan and stir to coat with sauce.

Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in chopped parsley.

Baked potatoIf you’re having this as a starter or stand alone dish, pile the mushrooms into individual dishes, top with a little grated parmesan and brown under a hot grill.

If you’re having the mushrooms in baked potatoes, cut open the spuds, slather in some butter and add a good dose of black pepper.
Served in baked potatoes, with saladPile sauced mushrooms into baked potatoes and serve with a salad of chopped apple, celery and rocket (no dressing required).

Eat with feet up, while watching nonsense TV.  If possible, wash it all down with an ice cold bottle of cider.

And relaaax….
x

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.

x

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.

x