It was one of those evenings. You know the ones, where you look in the fridge expecting a sudden moment of inspiration and the fridge just stares blankly back. I’d put something down on the meal plan but for one reason or another didn’t manage to cook it; sometimes I forget to buy an ingredient or I use it all in another meal forgetting to save any for later in the week. My potato, chargrilled broccoli and pesto salad came out of seemingly nowhere. This meal’s saviour turned out to be a little pot of pesto; it transformed a sorry looking collection of vegetables into a rather tasty meal.
Using sausages when making a pasta sauce is a great way to add depth and flavour to the sauce and cut down on cooking time too. My most recent recipe creation came about because I had one too many broccoli heads in the fridge; so my sausage, broccoli and spinach pasta was born. I used some delicious Italian sausages for this which were flavoured with plenty of herbs and a little fennel. The spinach was added as an afterthought but actually I really liked the earthiness it brought to the dish.
You know the feeling. When you get home from work, you’re tired and don’t want to stand around in the kitchen getting dinner ready. This feeling is magnified if it happens to be raining and/or you have a cold at the same time. Part of you wants to pick up the phone and get a takeaway but part of you knows that you really should cook something, especially if you already have all the ingredients. I have found a secret way to get round this and it relies on two things: firstly, that you can call upon your favourite quick recipes and secondly, the moment you start to chop the ingredients you’re committed. Once you’ve picked up that knife and sliced through that onion you’ve started dinner and suddenly, even on the worst days, it’s not such a mountain to climb.
There’s something about an iceberg lettuce and I feel it is sometimes a little overlooked. When it’s properly crunchy it’s so refreshing and I think rather delicious. My Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad is a recipe which is perfect for the hot weather we are having at the moment. I didn’t make the dressing myself but a homemade dressing would be fantastic. Personally I didn’t fancy all that whisking, I much preferred the idea of sipping a well iced beverage outside. As green beans are in season at the moment it would have been rude not to add a handful.
We bought our first ever BBQ this year. Not knowing how much it might get used we went for a basic entry level one which has been great, and it’s getting used at least once a week at the moment. When the BBQ is on I like to be outside, nice cold drink in hand, to watch everything cooking. That’s why these simple BBQ sides are my go to recipes whenever we’re cooking al fresco. I can make them quickly in the kitchen so they are ready to go once the hot food is ready.
Mustard Pickled Cucumber
You will need (for two as a side):
When there’s strawberries in the house that’s how I know it’s summer. I never eat them out of season; I feel like it’s worth the wait to abstain from eating strawberries for nine or ten months of the year and then gorge on them from late May until they disappear again. Mostly I just eat them as they are but sometimes I like to make something a little more interesting. This Strawberry, Basil and Shortbread Mess is exactly that. Something that doesn’t take long to make but turns a weekday evening into something a little more special. And it does look rather lovely if I do say so myself.
This is a recipe I have actually made and eaten in a few different guises. Once I added the same ingredients but made it into a macaroni cheese, another time I added similar ingredients and had a cold pasta salad. My creamy bacon, spinach and pea pasta is a real favourite in our house for two reasons: we almost always have all the ingredients, and it’s cheap and quick to make. I don’t know what it is about peas and pasta but I love the combination of silky, smooth pasta and squeaky peas. With so many things going on at the moment, the World Cup, Wimbledon about to start, this excellent weather and doing up the house anything that takes less than half an hour to make is my best friend.
From time to time I get a real craving for something sweet after dinner. I could go and raid the biscuit tin; I have bourbons in there presently and they would go down a treat. But actually, I want something a little healthier and that’s where these mint, orange and raspberry ice lollies come in. They take moments to make and I can grab one from the freezer to cool down in this lovely summery weather we’re having and at the same time satisfy my sweet tooth. I have been growing some mint in the garden beautifully named ‘chocolate mint’ so I used some of that, you can use whatever mint you can get your hands on.
There have been several aubergine themed recipes on the meal plan and blog recently, I just can’t seem to eat enough of them! The combination of aubergine and tomatoes is a hard one to beat, it’s one of my absolute favourites. Even better when the veggies are roasted to intensify the flavour and served with cheese. My roasted aubergine and tomato pasta is the culmination of many attempts to get it just right. Dicing the aubergine up like this not only means a quicker cooking time but more aubergine surface area to soak up all that olive oil.
Jerk seasoning has to be one of my favourites. No matter what time of year it is there’s always room for something to be cooked up with it; sticky jerk chicken in the autumn, a fiery casserole in the winter or when the new season arrives, jerk carrots. This recipe came out of a need to use up a whole load of carrots and I certainly didn’t want to make soup. I can see it working really well on the BBQ as a spicy veggie side in the coming weeks too. If you can get hold of new season spring carrots they are sweeter and smaller than carrots available later in the year and are ideal for this recipe.