Creamy Kale and Bacon Pasta

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Kale is such a favourite green of mine….makes me feel good every time I eat it. It has a wonderfully deep green earthy flavour and a real crunch to it. And it just looks so beautiful too!

Anyway, the other night I had several leaves left over and loitering in the fridge with little to do from a previous meal so I fancied a pasta dish and i fancied kale – a marriage made in heaven!

I pan fried a clove of garlic chopped finely in olive oil with three strips of good smoked streaky bacon chopped into small pieces. You could use lardon also or pancetta.

When it was cooked, I turned the heat down, sliced the kale leaves into small strips and added them to the pan, stirring them round over a medium heat to let them wilt a little – just a minute or so. I had already cooked my pasta. I drained it and left to one side whilst I stirred 150 ml of single cream into the bacon and kale mixture, added a grind or two of black pepper and turned the heat down low whilst I stirred all the ingredients together.

I then tipped the drained pasta into the pan and stirred it all round to coat each piece – I used rigatoni.

You could add a little dried chilli to it with the kale if you fancied a little zing.

It really is a fab way to eat your greens, I have to say!

Creamy tomato and spinach pasta…

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I love spinach and I love finding different ways to get it into my recipes. Here I have adapted one of my favourite easy suppers to accommodate the gorgeous green stuff.

For 4

500 gm pasta tubes of choice – I used De Cecco rigatoni

100 gm of baby plum toms

Good handful of fresh spinach finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

Small handful of fresh coriander chopped

Olive oil

Truffle oil – optional

300 gm of single cream

Salt and black pepper

Add a good splash of olive oil to a large frying pan or preferably a deep pan such as a non stick wok. Pop in the garlic and warm the oil – add the tomatoes and bring the heat up until the tomatoes are starting to gently sizzle. Add the spinach and coriander and let them all wilt and flop together over a low to medium heat for about ten minutes whilst the pasta cooks.

Add a splash of truffle oil, black pepper and a good grind of sea salt to the tomato mixture. Once the pasta is ready and drained, add the cream to the tomatoes and warm through, stirring all the while for about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Then pour in the pasta and stir it all together into a wonderful and healthy and simple supper dish. (If you wished to meat it up, you could pan fry some lardon or sliced smoked bacon with the tomatoes at the start.)

Perfect for Popeyes everywhere!

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Simple Flavour-filled Fish Pie

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Another winter warmer of a dish and one that will leave all the family asking for more – so maybe make two!

This is easy and so good in every way – my two teenage children are not huge fish eaters but they wolfed every morsel of this.

It is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe but I have tinkered with it to suit my store cupboard and taste!

And you can play about with it further if so desired – for example, if you are keen to miss out carbs – replace the potatoes with cooked, mashed celeriac – or butternut squash or sweet potatoes- or a mix of both – or a mix of swede and carrot boiled and mashed – with a little butter or cream if you fancy. You get the idea!

You can use any fish you want really and make it as luxurious or simple as you feel so inclined! I love this combo of smoked haddock,, salmon and prawns – but unsmoked haddock would be fine, or cod, or whiting or coley or etc etc etc!!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 shallots peeled and finely chopped

6 baby plum tomatoes sliced

2 cloves of garlic

1 kg potatoes peeled and quartered

150 g good-quality Cheddar cheese

1 lemon

Tsp of dried chili flakes

Small handful of rocket (rugola)chopped

300 g salmon fillets skin off

300 g smoked haddock fillets skin off

125 g raw peeled prawns

Olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

50 gm of butter

100 ml single cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook until soft (you can stick your knife into them to check. About 12 minutes or so.

Add 25 gm of butter to a hot frying pan and gently fry the shallots and garlic until soft, then add the sliced tomatoes for a further minute. Remove from the heat.

Get a deep baking tray or earthenware dish and stand a box grater in it. Grate 100 gm of the Cheddar cheese on the coarse side of the grater. Use the fine side of the grater to grate the zest from the lemon. Now add the onion mixture and the rocket to the dish.

Cut the salmon and smoked haddock into bite-size chunks and add to the tray with the prawns. Squeeze over the juice from the zested lemon, drizzle with olive oil and add a good pinch of salt and pepper plus the dried chili flakes. Mix everything together well but gently!

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Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander and return them to the pan. Add the cream and a good grind of sea salt and black pepper and mash until nice and smooth. I love mashing!

Next spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the fish mixture. Grate over the remaining cheese and add the remaining butter in small blobs around the surface.

Place in the preheated oven for around 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through and crispy and golden on top.

I served it with a green salad. Tis all you need! 

RED PEPPERS WITH GORGONZOLA

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PERFECT PEPPERS 

FOR 6

3 large red peppers, halved and deseeded

1 tbsp olive oil

200 gm gorgonzola cut into cubes – roughly 2 per pepper half (if poss. get the dolce not the piccante gorgonzola..

To dress

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped

3 tbsps olive oil

Balsamic to drizzle over – I use crema di balsamico – a balsamic glaze

Heat a large frying pan – brush the pepper halves with olive oil inside and out. Pop them in the hot pan cut side down for 5 minutes or so. Turn them over and add 2 pieces of cheese to each one. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Pop the pan then under a hot grill to finish off melting the cheese for about 2 minutes – keep an eye on them!

For the dressing – combine all the ingredients well in a bowl. Arrange the peppers in bowls – drizzle over a little of the dressing and then finish off with a squiggle of the balsamic glaze.

This is a fabulously simple Italian starter from the pages of Gino D’acampo – only tinkered with slightly! You could also use taleggio cheese like Gino…though I have to say the walnuts in the dressing combine mellifluously with the gorgonzola.

It is a surprisingly filling dish too when served with a slice or two of a good rustic bread to mop up the juices. It would be a great lunch dish on its own.

Sumptious Salmon Supper with a kick…

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Teriyaki Salmon on a bed of Spicy Rice

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This is a simple and phenomenally tasty supper dish, perfect for an autumnal Friday. Healthy and filling too. For each person, pop a decent salmon fillet, skinned, into an oven dish and drizzle over a good teriyaki sauce. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 160c for a fan oven, 180c if not.

Cook your rice – I use basmati cooked in a ceramic rice cooker. In a frying pan tip two or three tablespoons of olive oil –  heat –  then add two finely chopped and deseeded long red peppers, one finely chopped red chilli, and two chopped cloves of garlic. Fry for around ten minutes on a medium heat, then add 100 gm of finely chopped fresh spinach. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

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Pour the drained cooked rice into a bowl and gently stir through the pepper and spinach mix. Share the rice between plates and add a fillet of the salmon. Drizzle with some of the teriyaki sauce and serve.

This is such a marvellous match of flavours. It just works so well.

Salmon and September on a plate!