Roasted Orange Pepper Pesto Pasta

Is there anything more fulfilling than a simple mid-week pasta dish?

This recipe was suggested by Oddbox in their weekly newsletter and is adapted from the original recipe from Table for Two. I adapted the recipe to include almonds which I already had in stock and made additional portions for leftovers (the below quantities will serve 4). I also lazily toasted the nuts in the oven with the peppers as opposed to frying separately in a pan because hey, it’s OK to take short-cuts.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 x peppers deseeded & chopped into large chunks (red, yellow or orange will work best)
  • 2 x tbsps Pine Nuts
  • 2 x tsps flaked almonds
  • 2 x handfuls of fresh basil
  • 2 x garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 x handful of parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • 200g pasta

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180c

Place peppers, garlic & nuts into roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20-25 mins.

Once cooked, place cooked ingredients into a bowl and add the basil, a handful of parmesan and a generoug glug of olive oil then blend with a hand blender.

Cook pasta according to instructions then drain, saving a couple of tbsps of the cooking water.

Mix in the pesto with the pasta and reserved water and heat for a couple of minutes before serving with the remaining parmesan.

Such a simple recipe, the pesto can be kept in the fridge to be served as leftovers or as a paste with something completely different, I think it would be delicious on a bruschetta topped with tomatoes. You can also freeze any leftover pesto in ice cube trays, which is what I have done to save a few portions for my son who is pasta obsessed.

Weekly Meal Plan – 20.05.2021

It’s been a long old time since I last blogged and a lot has changed. I’ve had a baby, moved house, joined Instagram and lived through a global pandemic. My one constant through all this time though has been my commitment to food-waste and my love of a weekly meal plan. Therefore it seems apt that my first post back is about how I meal plan, the recipes will follow throughout the week.

When to meal plan?

This is completely dependent on when you have the time to do so and when you’re planning on doing your weekly shop. For me I tend to meal plan twice a week for 3/4 days at a time, the reason for this is that I receive my weekly vegetable box from Oddbox on a Wednesday morning and I hate going to the supermarket at the weekend, therefore on a Wednesday, I tend to meal plan from Wednesday through to Sunday and do one large weekly shop for everything I need to see me through to the end of the week. When I get to Sunday, I then review the contents left-over in my fridge and plan the meals for the Mon/Tues. Leaving a few days blank in the meal plan also leaves a bit of leeway if something hasn’t gone to plan such as an impromptu night out (extremely rare in these days of Coronavirus) or a lazy emergency pizza night after a long day at work.

For a lot of people meal planning at the weekend might be best and it might make more sense to leave the weekends unplanned if they’re the times you are most likely to eat elsewhere/off-plan. This is something you need to make fit in with your own personal life-style.

Where to start?

I always start by cleaning my fridge on a Tuesday night and assessing any left-over ingredients that might have been forgotten about, my fridge is normally pretty empty by the end of the week so this isn’t a big job. The leftover ingredients from the previous week will be the ones I aim to use up first.

When my Oddbox arrives, I then look at all the ingredients together and try to come up with a number of recipes for the week ahead, incorporating as many of the ingredients as I possibly can.

Where to get inspiration?

For this part I use a combination of sources; my own personal experience & ideas, the internet and recipe books. As an idea, below are the ingredients I have this week.

IMG_1360IMG_1357

The first picture is of the leftovers from the previous week, and the second picture is of the Oddbox ingredients received this week.

Of the old ingredients which I want to use first, I couldn’t think of any combination containing courgette & red cabbage but the internet tells me that a Chana Dal is a good option so I’ll be adapting this recipe from One Green Planet. This recipe is great as I can also throw in the coriander and spinach, I also know that I have the chana dal / split lentils in my cupboard.

Moving on to the other ingredients, my boyfriend saw the celeriac and asked for a gratin which will make use of the potato, onion & half of the celeriac, we’ll get at least 4 servings out of this and the only additional ingredient I’ll need to purchase is some form of cream. I’ll probably throw in some of the Rosemary and serve it with pork chops as pork and celeriac go really well together.

Each week Oddbox suggest a recipe in their news-letter, this week they suggested a pesto pasta using up the peppers. This is a super quick & simple mid week dinner that I’ll make 4 portions of and have the leftovers for lunch.

I fancy keeping the broccoli simple, so I’ll serve this as a side with some fish and also use the tomato, onions & coriander to make an accompanying salsa.

For the additional courgettes I had no inspiration this week so I picked up one of my recipe books and searched for courgette recipes. The first one that came up was a Chorizo & Courgette Salad from the Hairy Bikers One Pot Wonder book. I’d never have dreamed of combining these ingredients so I’m excited to try it. 

With my recipe books, I tend to pick a different book each week for inspiration and I find it’s a great way of trying out recipes and actually using the books as opposed to just looking at the pretty pictures.

The above meals incorporate all of the ingredients above except the dill which I’ll probably serve with the fish and I might also consider a salmon, cream cheese & dill bagel for lunch. I confess that I will struggle to get through the whole packet before it’s past it’s best so I’ll probably have to get creative in finding a use for it.

What next?

Next I need to determine what days I’ll be eating each meal on and do the shopping list. For the latter I’ll work through the recipes and figure out do I already have the ingredients I need in, if not can they be substituted for something else, and if not then I’ll add them to my Alexa shopping list. We keep Alexa in the kitchen solely for this purpose and it’s great to be able to add items to the shopping list as you run out of them. Using Alexa in this way means we rarely end up at the supermarket wondering if we do or don’t have something in.

To determine what days to have the meals on, I tend to consider what’s going on that week and what ingredients need using first. I’ll try to use the older or more perishable ingredients  to start with and I also consider what days I’m likely to be the most busy on as these are the days that call for easy recipes or leftovers. My partner and I both work from home at the moment which means we can prep throughout the day sometimes, I’ll often prep my veg at lunch which takes some pressure off in the evening however as we potentially return to the office we may lose this luxury. My other consideration here is what do I want to eat at the weekend, I’d rather have the more unhealthy or naughtier meals at the weekend which is just a mental reward thing for me to differentiate the weekends from mid-week.

Once I’ve done all this, I write the plan up on my kitchen blackboard and that’s it.

Below is the plan for the week ahead (we’re busy on Thurs/Fri which is why the plan doesn’t start until Saturday. I’ve also cancelled next weeks Oddbox as we’ve got plenty of food in to see us through the week), I’ll share more of my plans in the weeks ahead and of course post any recipes that I create.

What are your tips to meal planning, I’d love to hear.

Meal Plan

Saturday

Dinner: Fish w. Broccoli & Salsa

Sunday

Dinner: Celeriac Gratin & Pork Tenderloin

Monday

Lunch: Leftover Pork Sandwich

Dinner: Courgette & Red Cabbage Chana Dal

Tuesday

Lunch: Leftover Courgette & Red Cabbage Chana Dal

Dinner: Leftover Celeriac Gratin w. Eggs & Pancetta

Wednesday

Lunch: Salmon, Cream Cheese & Dill Bagel

Dinner: Red Pepper Pesto Pasta

Thursday

Lunch: Leftover Red Pepper Pesto Pasta

Dinner: Chorizo & Courgette Salad

Fridat

Lunch: Leftover Chorizo & Courgette Salad

Dinner: TBC

Bacon, Pea & Ricotta Linguine

Firstly, I must apologise for the super large time lapse since my last post, it’s been an incredibly busy few months.

My busy schedule plus lack of a regular weekly routine means that quick, easy & healthy home cooked meals are a necessity to ensure that I steer clear of the ready meal aisle in the supermarket.

The bonus of this though is that sometimes the simplest of suppers are the most satisfying and this recipe in particular uses only 4 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes to cook.

I often buy soft cheese such as Philadelphia for bagels and regularly struggle to use it all up before it starts to go off. Mixing soft cheeses into pasta dishes is a quick and hassle free way of making a tasty cheese sauce, in fact the versatility of soft cheeses constantly amazes me. You don’t have to stop at a pasta sauce, a quick dollop of Philadelphia can make a baked salmon or chicken fillet into something slightly more special, and I’m still regularly surprised every time I have to add a spoonful of cream cheese to a sweet recipe such as a carrot cake or biscuit filling. I also wouldn’t stop at cream cheese; pasta sauces can be made with an abundance of other soft cheeses such as ricotta as demonstrated here.

With all these ideas, there’s no excuse for allowing that tub of soft cheese to develop a layer of mould in the fridge, and here is just one an example of a super speedy supper recipe that was made using of some leftover ricotta cheese, a few rashers of bacon and what I consider to be a staple freezer ingredient – frozen peas.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 400g Bacon (Diced)
  • 200g Frozen Peas
  • 400g Linguine
  • 150g Ricotta Cheese

METHOD

Cook Linguine according to packet instructions

Meanwhile fry the bacon for 4 minutes or until browned

Add the frozen peas and cook for a further 4 minutes

20140603-210504.jpgDrain the pasta, return to the pan and add in the cooked bacon and peas (include all the pan juices for extra flavour)

Stir in the cheese, heat for 2-3 minutes, or until sauce is warm and fully mixed

Season to taste and stir

And there you have it, dinner for 4 in less thank 15 minutes.

 

 

Sausage, Chilli & Tomato Pasta

This week I’m home alone; when I’m home alone I never want to spend much time cooking so I prefer to make a couple of dishes that will serve me over multiple meal times.

I’ve had a rather extravagant January and with the Christmas costs still hanging over me, I’m determined to have an economising month. My mission during February is to literally empty the cupboards and freezer and buy as little as possible from the supermarket.

Last week I’d frozen some leftover tinned tomatoes and some fresh red chillies; also lurking in the bottom of my freezer were some pigs in blankets that I hadn’t used up over Christmas. I couldn’t think of a use for the pigs in blankets other than on the side of a roast, but I figured that they’re just sausages and bacon so why not use them up just as I would normal sausages.

Pasta’s great for using up leftovers, it’s amazing what you can do with tinned tomatoes and a few veggies, there’s no need to buy expensive jars of pasta sauce. As I was using up ingredients I had in the freezer and cupboard I didn’t have to visit the shop for this recipe as there was also a half eaten onion lurking in my fridge.

And this is how the ingredients below, provided me with couple of dinners and a lunch for the week (there would have been 4 portions but I didn’t have quite enough pasta in) meaning that I didn’t have to slave in the kitchen every night after work.

20140209-145324.jpg

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Sausages (I used pigs in blankets as a substitute)
  • 200g Tinned Tomatoes
  • 200-300g Pasta (50-75g a portion)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Red Chilli (or pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Dash White Wine (optional)
  • Parmesan to top (optional)

METHOD

Heat oil in large frying pan and fry chopped onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft

Add sausages and fry for 5-6 minutes until browned

Add dash of white wine (water or stock will do if you don’t have wine) and scrape the bottom of the pan (this step will add additional flavour to the sauce). Boil over a high heat for a few minutes, until the liquid has reduced by a third.

Add in the tinned tomatoes and chopped red chilli, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions. Once cooked and drained, combine with the sausage mixture and top with grated cheese if desired.

20140209-144026.jpg

TIPS

Note I used frozen fresh red chillies for this recipe; I’ve found the best way to freeze chillies is to chop before freezing. I’ve frozen chillies whole before but they tend to retain too much water when defrosted.

The dash of white wine I used was also frozen. If you have a few dregs of wine remaining (sacrilege), freeze in ice cube trays and these can then be used for cooking, as recipes require.

Leftover pasta is a great thing to pack in some Tupperware and take for lunch; it’s also suitable for freezing if you don’t want to eat all the portions in the same week. (Homemade ready meals).