Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Cheap and easy: pasta puttanesca

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I’ve already blogged about puttanesca with prawns, as a good diet friendly dish, and it certainly is.  This is a slightly different version.  Cheap, just as easy, because it uses tinned sardines.

The prawn version is here https://mrsjacksoncooks.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/sweet-pepper-and-bacon-pasta-2/

I have used tinned sardines before, but I don’t like the bones in them.  Every recipe I’ve found previously always says, leave them in, they’re small and good for you, you don’t notice them.  I do.  I don’t like them!  This was the first recipe that said take them out, and said how to (although I probably could have figured it out, having something that tells you how, takes the guesswork out of it).  Most puttanesca recipes use anchovies but I’m not a fan of them, so this recipe works much better for me.

It’s a post by Jack Monroe on the Guardian.  I like Jack Monroe.  Her recipes are alwayseasy, and often use stuff that’s in the cupboard.  I met her through working for Oxfam, and like her honesty and grittiness, and of course, the easiness of her recipes.  Her recipe is here http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/16/jack-monroe-spaghetti-alla-puttanesca-recipe 

As always, I’ve adapted it.  I used macaroni because that’s what I had in.  You can use whatever pasta you like.  Spaghetti is good too.  I do normally use capers, however, I had run out this last time, so added in juice of one lemon, which worked well too.

Pasta puttanesca

Serves 2

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tin sardines
  • 150g dried pasta of your choice
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped, or juice 1 lemon
  • 20 large olives (I used green), pitted and sliced
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of parmesan (optional)
  1. Boil the pasta until al dente.  Remove and drain, and set aside (if the pasta is done much before the sauce, you may want to add some oil to it to stop it sticking)
  2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a pan on a medium heat.
  3. When warmed, add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until the onion is softened.
  4. Remove the bones from the sardines by slicing down the back and opening and removing easily as they’re all in one piece.  Chop up the sardines.
  5. Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking them up with the spatula or spoon.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the sardines, capers or lemon juice and continue simmering until you have a good saucey consistency.
  7. Then add the olives and basil in.  Taste and add seasoning as needed.
  8. Stir through the pasta until combined.
  9. Turn into bowls and scatter parmesan over the top if using.
  10. Enjoy the healthy, easy goodness
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I’m back! And I’m cheating – easy cheats meatball pasta

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I know, I’ve been away, you’ve been wondering what to eat. I’ve got a new super exciting job at British Cycling (don’t you just love how I manage to jump on every bandwagon going?!) which is very demanding. So I have been cooking – that wouldn’t change…I’ve not had the time for blogging and I keep forgetting to take photos.

But I’ve just got back from Ibiza (totally fab, amazing holiday, what a beautiful mesmerising place…don’t ever go all inclusive there, you miss the point of it) where I ate lots of gorgeous Spanish food and found perhaps the best place I have ever tasted tapas, drank lots of great (and cheap!) wine, danced my socks off (not that I was wearing any) and got a tan. Here are my top 5 things I learnt in Ibiza:

  1. A hot tub is the best after party – EVER! Get one, now – your life isn’t complete without it. Mr J and I are actually going to move so we can have one.
  2. Benirras beach is an amazing sunset party on Sundays. Get there early – they have police just for the parking.
  3. Random nights are the best
  4. There’s nothing funnier than driving around San Ant in your red fiat 500 convertible, roof all the way down, Guetta blaring from the stereo whilst you dance out the roof, and people wonder who you are
  5. Destino in San Jozep (between San ant and ibiza town) does the best tapas in the world.
  6. (I know, it’s 6 not 5) Drunk Connie is so much fun. Just give her 2 jaegerbombs and you’ll laugh all night.

Prior to the holiday me and Mr J thought we’d lose some weight so we went low carb, low fat. And whilst it’s totally unsustainable (and I ended up dreaming about pasta!) I learnt a couple of things – the cut of meat you choose can make all the difference. Always cut the fat off and remove the skin to reduce fat calories, and you don’t need as much oil as you think. So I’m incorporating these things into my cooking from now on. I’m also switching to low fat dairy exclusively. This was mostly the case already, but I’ve taken it further.

Anyway, holiday over. And I have the post-holiday blues, big time. But it got me to thinking about blogging again and I actually remembered to take a few photos. So I’m back for now, and here’s hoping it lasts for a bit in any case. And having the blues means I need comfort food, like now. So here’s a super quick, super easy, totally cheating pasta dish I actually got out of a magazine – More, I think. Ages ago I tore it out the magazine and stuck it in my binder where it was waiting for such a day as this.

I used frozen meatballs from Ikea as that’s what I had, but use ready made meatballs from the supermarket or just take sausages out their skins and roll them into balls. Whatever you have handy. I also used low fat creme fraiche and a bit of cream cheese, but use whatever you have to hand – fromage frais, cream, soured cream…whatever’s there.

I also added mushrooms as I’m really into mushrooms at the mo – they’re full of umami – what’s not to love?! Natural mood and taste boosters. But leave out if you want or add whatever you have in your fridge. Frozen peas would work quite well too I reckon.

So this can be done in about 20 mins – look at me, showing Jamie how it’s done. And kid friendly too.

Creamy meatball pasta

Serves 2

  • 150g pasta shapes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 100g meatballs per person
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 150ml creme fraiche (or whatever)
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper
  1. Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions (reserve some of the water)
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in the pan on a medium heat and add the meatballs. As the meatballs release their fat, you can turn it up high until they’re browned on all sides.
  3. Then turn back down and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Fry until the onion and mushrooms are softened and the mushrooms have released their juices.
  4. Then add the creme fraiche and a few tablespoons of the pasta water to make a sauce. Stir well and bubble until slightly thickened.
  5. Then add the parsley, salt & pepper to taste. Stir through the pasta and serve.
  6. Enjoy the creamy comforty-ness
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Easy healthy midweek pasta: spicy bacon & aubergine pasta

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This was one of those – random things in fridge and in need of something quick and healthy to eat before the gym. And it worked really well actually. At just over 400 calories it certainly ticks the healthy box, and it was very tasty and didn’t take very long to make either – certainly a Jamie Oliver contender. You could even leave the bacon out (and maybe add mushrooms) for a vege option too.

The recipe came from my trusty BBC good food site http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/874651/aubergine-chilli-and-bacon-pasta and I didn’t really change that much of it, although I made less than it suggested and it was enough to go round.

Spicy bacon & aubergine pasta

Serves 3

  • 225g pasta shapes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
  • 4 rashers of rindless back bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 red chillis, finely chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • handful of grated parmesan to serve (optional)
  1. Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and add the aubergine. Cook over a medium heat until softened – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crispy, about another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and chilli and stir through for a minute before adding the tomatoes, breaking them up with the spatula if necessary.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Bring to the boil and then simmer until you have a nice thick sauce.
  7. Stir through the pasta and then tip onto plates, topped with parmesan if using.
  8. Eat immediately and enjoy!
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Easy midweek pasta: creamy prawn & spinach pasta

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This is a briliant quick and easy midweek dinner, that actually is quite a good diet option – providing you’re going for about 500 calories for dinner. It comes in at 499 calories. However, I substituted the cream for a low fat creme fraiche which would have reduced the calories further. It’s also good because it doesn’t taste like a diet dinner. It’s tasty, uses everyday ingredients, feels rich and satisfying and can be made in about 20 minutes, or the time it takes to cook the pasta.

The original recipe is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1553660/prawn-pasta

I didn’t change it significantly, bar the creme fraiche, and I used spiral pasta and added an onion as well.

Creamy prawn & spinach pasta

Serves 2

  • 170-200g pasta of your choice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 14 king or tiger prawns, raw or cooked (I used raw)
  • 100g spinach, stalks removed and chopped (or use baby spinach)
  • 2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
  • Salt & pepper
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • parmesan grated, to top (optional)
  1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and fry the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the prawns (if using raw) and fry for a couple of minutes until they start to go opaque and pink.
  4. Then add the spinach and stir well to combine. Allow to wilt for a couple of minutes. Then add the prawns if using cooked.
  5. Add the creme fraiche, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well. If it’s a bit thick, add a spoonful or two of pasta water.
  6. Tip the pasta into the sauce, stir well to coat the pasta in the sauce, and serve immediately with some parmesan grated on top (optional).
  7. Enjoy the decadence without the guilt!
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Spinach and sausage lasagne

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This was another winner I found on a blog. Sometimes blog recipes are just brilliant (mine are, of course!) and so much better than recipe collection sites that I find, seem to stay quite safe (although then at least you know you’ll get something good). And just as this recipe came along as I was wondering how to make marinara sauce – when I found another blog on marinara sauce! This one came from one of the regulars that I follow, so it wasn’t quite so random as I make out. But I would have ignored it had I not been thinking about the lasagne recipe.

Here’s the lasagne recipe http://cookwithfire.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/spinach-sasauge-lasagna/

Here’s the marinara recipe http://cookingtipoftheday.blogspot.com/2011/12/recipe-marinara.html

Half the time I didn’t really know what cook with fire was on about – I think it’s very much focused at the US – so it went over my head! So I ignored it and just stuck with the basic ingredients. I did think her suggestion to soak the lasagne sheets was odd, but actually it works really well and cuts cooking time. Which I significantly reduced from the recipe and it was great.

I’ve not seen many ready made marinara sauces here, so if you want a jar of something – go for something tomatoey that can just act as a base. A bolognaise will also work fine, although it’s a bit heavier than a marinara. Or make your own – it does make the recipe time longer, but it’s probably worth it. I still managed this during the week making it from scratch.

Spinach and sausage lasagne

Serves 6-8

For the marinara sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions finely chopped (or 3 medium)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tins of tomatoes (I use plum and just break them up with the spatula)
  • 250ml white wine (I left this out and added extra water and stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp each dried oregano, basil, parsley or other herbs (thyme, sage etc)
  • 2 handfusl of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 larger handfuls chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the lasagne:

  • 10 sheets dried lasagne (the recipe says 12, I found 10 was enough for my dish – you could try and see how many will fit in first in 3 layers)
  • 300g spinach, washed and chopped (the recipe says baby spinach but I didn’t have any so used normal spinach)
  • 6 large, good quality sausages
  • 150g ricotta cheese (you could use cream cheese at a push)
  • 1 large ball of mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 70g parmesan cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  1. First make the marinara sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and fry on a medium heat until softened and transluscent.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes and dried herbs, breaking the tomatoes up with your spatula.
  3. Add the tomato puree, sugar, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and water or wine. Bring to the boil and then simmer.
  4. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until you have a nice saucy consistency.
  5. Meanwhile, grill the sausages on a high setting until cooked and browned all over. Allow to cool and slice diagonally.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.
  7. Whilst the sausages are grilling, put the lasagne sheets in enough tap water to cover them. Leave them until needed.
  8. Spread a quarter of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (needs relatively high sides).
  9. Take enough lasagne sheets to cover a layer and spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese on them. Place them ricotta side up on top of the marinara sauce layer.
  10. Then put half the spinach and sausage pieces on top of the lasagne layer. followed by 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan. Pour another quarter of marinara sauce over it all.
  11. Repeat this all again from the ricotta covered lasagne sheets.
  12. Then place a final layer of ricotta covered lasagne on top, followed by the remaining marinara sauce and the remaining cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil over it all.
  13. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the lasagne is cooked through.
  14. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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Quick n easy midweek: spicy prawn pasta

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I wanted something quick and easy to do that didn’t involve white or red meat – I know prawns aren’t vegetarian, but they don’t have the same effect on digestion as meat! I found this on one of the recipe websites that individuals can post to – and I can’t for the life of me find the recipe again! I did adapt it in any case, and have no fear, I at least remember how I make it, even if I can’t remember where I found it!

This is very simple, very quick, and very tasty. I’ve not counted the calories – but it would definitely be lighter than some pasta options, and would be a good option for dinner if you’re dieting.

Spicy prawn pasta

Serves 2

  • 170g pasta shapes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 12-16 raw king prawns (depending on size)
  • 1 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
  • handful of grated parmesan (to serve)
  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a high sided frying pan or wok on a low heat. Add the garlic, chilli and rosemary cooking gently to infuse the oil without burning the spices.
  3. After a few minutes, when the garlic starts to brown, add the onion, and continue to cook on a low heat until the onion is softened.
  4. Toss in the prawns, mixing well to coat with the mix. Cook gently until they turn opaque and pink.
  5. Stir in the creme fraiche (you may decide you want a bit more creme fraiche or oil – depending on the thickness of the sauce). Mix through until it forms a thick sauce.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste before adding the pasta and tossing it in the sauce.
  7. Serve immediately with sprinkling of parmesan
  8. Enjoy!
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Hangover comfort: Easy creamy vege pasta bake

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We’d been out with friends on Saturday night, and so yesterday, we were just moping about the house with hangovers. Unfortunately, we’re too old not to get hangovers! And we just wanted some comforting stodge to soak up some of the toxins. So I made a vege pasta bake. Mostly because I couldn’t bothered to defrost any meat. Plus we’d been out for a meal on Saturday night so eating less meat seemed like a good idea.

This is really easy, and is essentially like making vege lasagne but with pasta instead of lasagne sheets – and there’s no layering. My poor head couldn’t have coped with anything complicated in any case!

It would work as a quick and easy midweek meal too, and depending on what veges you put in, could be quite kiddy friendly too. I used carrots and mushrooms but really anything would work – peas, sweetcorn, peppers, celery…whatever you have in the fridge really.

It’s also relatively low in calories for a cheese and pasta fuelled dinner – 588 calories apparently. So if you’re on that party dress diet, this is a good dinner option – and you won’t feel like you’re dieting with this at all.

Creamy vege pasta bake

Serves 3

  • 200g pasta shapes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp of mixed herbs or assorted dried herbs (basil, oregano, thyme etc)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter (or margerine)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 5-600ml milk
  • salt & pepper
  • 70g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 30g parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  2. Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside
  3. In a saucepan or high sided frying pan, heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and fry until softened.
  4. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry until the mushrooms brown.
  5. Then add the tin of tomatoes (and rinse out the tin with water and add the water to the pan) breaking them up with the spatula or spoon. Mix well.
  6. Cook for a minute before adding the puree, herbs and sugar. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the veges are cooked through and you have a thick tomatoey sauce (about 15 minutes).
  7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate saucepan. Then add the flour, mixing well to combine into a paste. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  8. Then gradually add the milk whisking constantly to remove lumps, until you have a thin sauce. Bring to the boil, and simmer until it thickens to the desired thickness (quite thick sauce). Add 2/3 of the cheddar to the sauce and mix well. Then add some salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the stove.
  9. When the tomato sauce is ready, add salt and pepper to taste before adding the drained pasta to the sauce and mix well to combine. Tip this into a baking dish.
  10. Beat the egg into the cheese sauce and pour over the pasta and tomato sauce.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the parmesan over the cheese sauce and put in the middle of the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until cooked through and the cheese is a golden brown.
  12. Serve immediately with garlic bread and feel your hangover subside 🙂
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Homemade gnocchi and a simple tomato sauce

I found a recipe in a book I don’t use that often, to make gnocchi, and for some reason, I thought this would be quick and simple!  It’s not!  I think it’s because the recipe only had 4 steps and there didn’t seem to be any times attached so I thought it wouldn’t take long.  At around 8.30pm on a thursday evening when I was starting to go crazy from lack of dinner and insane levels of gnocchi dough, I realised that I was wrong!

However, if you do have an afternoon free – perhaps a weekend one, it’s not a difficult recipe and once you get the hang of it, you can get making them quite quickly.  I made 1kg of gnocchi and froze about half of it.  I’ll let you know if that works or not.  And we ate the rest.  I’ve been doing 100g per person – I’ve seen recipes for a lot more than this per person, but I’ve no idea how you’d eat that much!  It doesn’t look like much on the plate, but both me and hubby were quite full after.

Whenever I’ve eaten gnocchi before, I’ve thought it’s a bit stodgy and heavy.  But this recipe isn’t. It’s light and fluffy and like pasta really, but made with potatoes.  I deliberately kept each gnocchi piece small to avoid any overtly stodginess, but I’ve been quite impressed.  And once it’s made, it makes  a very speedy, healthy, tasty dinner – so when you have got some time on a weekend it’s worth making a load and then using it for the week ahead and freezing some for later.

I’ve done a few different sauces with it – probably my favourite was a lemon and parmesan one, but I didn’t take photos of that!  You can find it here though http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/724643/gnocchi-with-lemon-and-chive-pesto

The tomato sauce below came from the same recipe book as the gnocchi and literally took 5 minutes to make.  Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out!  I think the book is this one, although without a picture it’s hard to tell http://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Encyclopedia-Cooking-Supercook-11/dp/0856855456/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&qid=1317645910&sr=8-23

To be honest, it’s a gigantic heavy thing, and I’ve not found a lot of use for it.  But the gnocchi recipe is good and simple.  The gnocchi I made is potato semolina gnocchi but it seems you can make gnocchi from almost anything.  I think I may try ricotta gnocchi next.

Homemade semolina gnocchi

Makes 1kg – or about 10 portions

  • 800g baking potatoes
  • 120g durum wheat semolina
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  1. Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked – about 10 minutes.  I halved mine but didn’t cut any smaller than this.  Allow to cool and then peel the potatoes (this gets a bit messy but it doesn’t matter).
  2. Put the flour, semolina, salt and nutmeg in a bowl together.
  3. On a decent sized work surface, spread out the grated potato, and sprinkle over the semolina and flour mix.
  4. Crack an egg onto the top of it and then kneed the whole lot into a dough – like you would with bread.  You don’t want to overwork it, just a light kneeding until you achieve a dough consistency.
  5. Split the dough out into 200g portions.  Liberally sprinkle flour all over the surface and the dough (and your hands).  Take one 200g portion and roll out until its about 1cm thick (in a roll shape, not flat).  Then cut into 1cm wide strips.  Then cut into 1cm squares.  This is the bit that takes the time.  You also need to keep the flour handy to stop it from sticking to you or the surface or itself.
  6. You can either then roll these squares into little round patties lightly pressing a fork into them to make lines or long thin strips.
  7. Heat lots of water in a large saucepan.  Drop the 200g lot of gnocchi into the water when it’s fully boiling and cook for precisely 1 minute.  Then remove with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.  Run under cold water until completely cold, then drain well.
  8. The gnocchi is now ready to use as you wish.  It’ll keep in the fridge for several days, I think you can freeze it (I’m trying that now!) and you don’t need to boil it again – just tip it in the pan with the sauce towards the end of cooking to heat through and cover in sauce.

Simple fresh tomato sauce

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (with a bit more to drizzle later – possibly)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt & pepper
  • handful of fresh herbs – I used basil and sage
  • 200g gnocchi
  • 30g grated parmesan
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan or high sided frying pan
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry together on a medium heat until softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to break down.
  4. Then add the herbs and seasoning to taste followed by the gnocchi.  The gnocchi may be slightly stuck to itself but it should separate out easily enough once in the pan.  Stir through and cook for a minute before chucking in the parmesan, stiring and removing from the heat.  If it’s too thick, drizzle in a bit of olive oil.
  5. Serve immediately with garlic bread and savour the fresh light flavours.
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Tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad reinvented

It’s a classic staple – a great lunch box salad, or for picnics, bbqs, or any other time really.  Good for kids and adults alike.  Mostly because it uses store cupboard items so when you’ve run out of everything else, you can still make this, and it’s filling, nutritious and not too full of bad calories (I’m not suggesting calories are bad, they essential really, but some are better than others!).  But usually you add mayonnaise and that’s where the added calories start coming in.  Plus some people just don’t like mayonnaise, and it can be boring with it too.  So this is tuna and sweetcorn, but without the mayo – and I think it actually tastes better.

The recipe originally comes from my Italian cookbook, which you can find here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Italys-500-Best-ever-Recipes-Photographs/dp/1780190433/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1312194589&sr=8-13

Tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad

Serves 2

  • 125g pasta shapes
  • 5 pieces of grilled marinaded peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • handful of chopped fresh basil
  • For the dressing
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp mustard (I used wholegrain)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions.  Drain and cool by running through cold water.
  2. Add the tuna, sweetcorn, peppers and basil to the pasta and mix well.
  3. To make the dressing combine all of the ingredients, and whisk to emulsify.
  4. Pour dressing over salad and mix again to combine.
  5. Leave salad for at least 1 hour to absorb the flavours
  6. Enjoy!
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Dinner on a shoestring: Sicilian sardine spaghetti

Times are tough, and they’re getting tougher.  The price of everything has gone up, and continues to rise, and if you’re lucky enough to have a job, the chances are you won’t be getting a salary increase, in fact you may be asked to take a pay cut.  So, frugal food that also tastes nice is a must.  And you can’t get much more frugal than sardines. 

Plus they’re packed full of flavour and lots of the good fats and other nutrients, and are low in calories and other bad things.  This recipe also doesn’t have a cream base so it’s relatively low in calories.   Apparently my recipe has 400 calories – which isn’t bad for a dinner.  You can even have a pudding without going over 500 calories.    Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and forgot to take a photo of it – but it goes to show that dinner can be made in 30 minutes – Jamie should take lessons from me!

I found the original recipe here http://www.tescorealfood.com/recipes/sicilian-sardine-pasta.html but of course, I changed it.  Tescos is much higher in calories – don’t ask me why – maybe it’s because they put more oil or currants in it than mine. 

I’m not sure why it’s Sicilian, other than it has orange and lemon zest in it, but it sounds good, so I kept the name.

Sicilian sardine spaghetti

Serves 2

  • 170g spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely choppped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
  • zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted (you can leave these out if you don’t have them)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 10 olives, halved (I used green)
  • 1 tin sardines
  • salt & pepper
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.  Drain and set aside until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in the pan and fry the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and zests on a low heat until the onion is softened.
  3. Add the pine nuts, tomatoes and olives, and cook for a further 2 minutes until the tomatoes start  to soften
  4. Add the sardines, breaking them up with your spatula or spoon along with seasoning  and parsley to taste.  Mix well to combine.
  5. Toss in the spaghetti and the remaining oil, stir well to mix and serve immediately with a sprinkling of parmesan on top
  6. Enjoy with a feeling of being all healthily frugal. 
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