Spiced sausage and tomato ragu

This is perfect for easy entertaining and can be prepared ahead of time. It’s amazing how intense this sauce is even though the cooking time is relatively short for a ragu. Serve it with pasta, rice or mashed potato. This recipe if by Diana Henry who writes for the Daily Telegraph. Freezes well.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

MAKES. 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  1. 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 800g sausage (preferably a spicy one), casings removed and meat broken into chunks
  3. 200g bacon lardons
  4. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  5. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  6. 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar (optiona
  7. 1 tsp chilli flakes
  8. Generous grating of nutmeg
  9. 250ml red wine, white wine or chicken stock
  10. 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  11. 2 tsp dried oregano
  12. Pinch of sugar

Method

  1. Heat half the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan – you can use the rest as you need it – and brown the sausage meat and bacon all over in batches. Remove each batch of meat once browned and set aside.
  2. Add the onion to the pan and fry over a medium heat until soft and golden, then add the garlic, fennel seeds, chilli and nutmeg and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine or stock along with the tomatoes, oregano, sugar and some seasoning. Put all the meat back in the pan and bring the dish to just under the boil.
  3. Turn the heat down and simmer over a very low heat for 45 minutes. Keep the pan covered at first, then halfway through the cooking time, remove  the lid and allow the cooking juices to reduce. You want to end up with a sauce thick enough to coat pasta. Check the seasoning.
  4. To freeze, allow to cool fully then freeze in plastic containers. Allow the ragu to defrost in the fridge before you heat it again.

Sausage Ragu

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Roast Cod with a Parsley and Parmesan Crust

My daughter gave me this, thank you Lesley – it will become one of my ‘go to’ recipes when time is short. It is super easy and can be prepared in five minutes. This dish is so quick to cook. Not having the tomato antipasto to hand I used dried sundried tomatoes and soaked them in water for 10 minus and that worked just fine. The recipe is, I think, by Rick Stein. Photographs next time I make this dish.

Preparation 5 minutes

Cooking time 11-12 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 x 175g (6oz) cod tail pieces

3 x 15ml (3 tbsp) black olive paste (tapenade)

50g (2oz) Italian sun-dried tomato antipasto

75g (2oz) breadcrumbs

Flatleaf parsley, handful, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1.2 x 5ml sp (1/2 teaspoon) dried chilli flakes

30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice

25g (1oz) grated parmesan cheese

Salt and ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7. Season each piece of cod on both sides. Spread one side of each piece with the tapenade and lay on a slightly oiled baking tray.

Drain the pieces of sundried tomato on kitchen paper and then cut into very small. pieces. Put into a bowl with the breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, garlic and chilli flakes and mix well together.

Add the olive oil and lemon juice to the mixture and toss well so that all the breadcrumbs become well coated in the oil. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and a little black pepper to taste.

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Chorizo chilli stew with guacamole

This brilliant cheat’s chilli is by Ben Lebus that I found in the Daily Telegraph. A quick dash to your supermarket and you are there (or keep the main ingredients in your store cupboard and fridge). It is perfect for unexpected visitors as it can be cooked in almost the time it takes to make the guacamole.

Ingredients

  1. 225g chorizo ring
  2. Olive oil, for frying
  3. 1 x 450g jar of roasted red peppers
  4. 2 fat garlic cloves
  5. 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  6. 3 x 400g tins of kidney beans
  7. 1 x 680g jar of passata
  8. 2 limes
  9. 2 avocados
  10. 1 small bunch fresh coriander
  11. Extra-mature cheddar cheese, grated

Method

Peel the chorizo and slice into rounds, roughly half a centimetre thick. Heat a large saucepan over a high heat. Drizzle in some olive oil, then scrape in the chorizo. Leave to fry.

Meanwhile, remove the peppers from the jar with a fork, roughly slice and add them to the pan along with the unpeeled garlic, crushing the cloves into the pan. Add the Cajun seasoning and stir, cooking for a further minute.

Open the tins of beans, drain the liquid in a sieve and then add to the pan. Pour in the passata. Season with salt and black pepper and give everything a good mix. Bring the chilli to the boil and let it bubble away while you make the guacamole.

For the guacamole, cut one lime in half and the other into four wedges. Halve and pit the avocados and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Squeeze over the juice from the lime halves, season with salt and black pepper and then smash up with a fork.

Tear the coriander over the chilli and serve at the table with the bowl of guacamole, cheddar cheese for topping and the lime wedges for squeezing over. Serve plain yogurt for those who like a milder chilli.

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Green bean, tomato, spinach and feta pasta

I found this recipe for pasta with green beans, tomato, spinach and feta in deliciousmagizine.co.uk. It is fresh, light and easy and ready in under 30 minutes making it a perfect midweek supper.

Ingredients

  1. 25g pine nuts
  2. 100g fine green beans, trimmed
  3. 250g dried pasta, such as conchiglie (shell)
  4. 100g baby spinach leaves
  5. 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  6. 3 tbsp ready-made balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing
  7. 100g feta

Recipe

In a large saucepan, dry-fry the pine nuts for 1-2 minutes, until golden. Remove and set aside. Using the same pan, fill with cold water and bring to the boil. Add the beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and refresh under cold running water – this will help them keep their bright green colour. Set aside.

Add the pasta and a pinch of salt to the boiling water and cook according to packet instructions. Drain and briefly run under cold running water to cool slightly, then return to the pan.

Put the spinach leaves in a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt them. Refresh under cold running water, then squeeze out as much excess water as you can. Toss the spinach through the pasta, then add the beans, tomatoes and dressing. Season. Divide between 2 bowls. Sprinkle with toasted nuts and crumble over the feta. Scatter with basil leaves to serve.

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Chicken and Couscous or Bulgar Wheat Salad

This a perfect dish for lunch in the garden on a hot sunny day . It can be prepared well in advance, even the day before. In fact the flavours mingle better then.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: as long as it takes to cook the chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients

400g couscous or Bulgar wheat

6 tablespoons olive oil

50 raisins (optional)

2 level tablespoons mint, freshly chopped

20g bunch of flat-leaved parsley, chopped

6 spring onions

Jar (285g) of artichoke hearts in olive oil , drained and cut in half

150g cherry tomatoes. quartered

50g pine nuts

210g chicken breast (2 or 3) cooked

150g natural yoghurt

Salt and pepper

Method

Put couscous into a jug, note the volume and pour into a bowl. Add the same volume of boiling water, cover and leave for 5 minutes until the water is absorbed. Using a fork fluff up the couscous to separate the grants. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and mix.

Add raisins if using. Add the mint (reserving 2 teaspoons for garnish), parsley and the spring onions. Add remaining oil. Season well. Add the artichokes, tomatoes and pine nuts. Stir well then transfer to a serving dish.

Slice the chicken breasts and arrange on top of the couscous. Spoon over a little of the yoghurt, then sprinkle with black pepper and the mint garnish. Serve with the remaining yoghurt.

Note: Bulgar wheat – use 29 grams per person (or check packet) per person

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Cod, hake or haddock with dill and pangrattato


This recipe can be used for almost any round fish, such as cod, pollock, ling, haddock or grey sea mullet. It can be cooked ahead and reheated – just make sure there’s lots of cheese sauce, otherwise it’ll be dry and uninteresting instead of juicy and unctuous. Mussels or prawns can be added for a more elaborate version. Buttered leeks, sautéed mushrooms or tomato fondue are other options – simply put a tablespoon or two either on top of the fish or underneath it in the gratin dish. The sauce is absolutely delicious and if you like fish you will love this dish.I found this by Darina Allen was found in the Daily Telegraph.

Prep time: 10 minutes | 

Cooking time: 30-35 minutes

SERVES. Six to eight

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.

INGREDIENTS

For the pangrattato

  1. 50-75ml extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  3. 50g soft, white breadcrumbs

For the fish

  1. 1.1kg cod, hake, haddock or grey sea mullet fillets
  2. Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  3. 2 bay leaves
  4. 15g butter
  5. 600ml whole milk
  6. Approx 50g roux (made by blending 25g softened butter with 25g plain flour in a small bowl)
  7. ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  8. 150-175g grated cheddar, or 75g grated parmesan
  9. 1 tbsp chopped dill (optional)

To make the pangrattato, combine all of the ingredients in a little bowl and set aside.

Skin the fish and cut it into six or eight portions. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place the bay leaves in a lightly buttered sauté pan and lay the pieces of fish on top. Cover with the milk and bring slowly to the boil.

Simmer for four to five minutes, or until the fish changes colour from translucent to opaque. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside.

Bring the milk back to the boil and whisk in the roux to thicken the sauce to a light coating consistency. Stir in the mustard and two thirds of the grated cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the dill, if using.

Return the fish to the pan and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, followed by the pangrattato.

Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the fish is heated through and the top is golden brown and crisp. Serve with a salad of leaves.

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Fish Soup

This is a really tasty soup that uses any white fish you can get your hands on (cod, haddock or hake work well). Using prawns and mussels makes for an attractive looking dish. Good crusty bread is must for dipping.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Springtime Fish stew

Ingredients

3 shallots

knob of butter

olive oil, for cooking

500g Jersey Royals (or other new potatoes)

500ml seafood stock

500g mussels and/or clams

250g raw prawns

250g skinless and boneless cod or whatever

100g baby spinach

200ml crème fraîche

½ bunch of mixed soft herbs, such as basil, coriander and parsley

1 lemon

Crusty bread, to serve

METHOD

  1. Peel and finely slice the shallots. Place the butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan. Pop on to a medium heat and add the sliced shallot to the pan. Sauté for 10 minutes, until starting to soften.
  2. Cut the potatoes into even-sized chunks, about 3cm in size, and add to the pan along with the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for eight minutes, until the potatoes are just cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the seafood. Check and clean the mussels and clams well, discarding any that don’t close. Remove the veins from the prawns. Cut the cod into 2-3cm chunks.
  4. When the potatoes are ready, stir in the spinach. After a minute, add all the seafood to the pan, bring back to the boil and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for five minutes, until the prawns and cod are cooked through and the mussels and clams have had a chance to open. Discard any that are still closed.
  5. Stir in the crème fraîche, season to taste and finely chop the herbs. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon and stir in the herbs. Serve with bread and the remaining lemon half to squeeze.

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Aubergine, tomato and chickpea traybake

This super-easy, quick traybake that can be made ahead as it both freezes and reheats well. It is good hot or cold. This dish is a bit fiddly with having to do something every 15 minutes or so but if cooked in advance it is ready to reheat as required. It is easiest if you prepare everything in advance then you only have to add the next ingredient as required. You can get on with something between each stage.

Serves 4

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 1 hour 10 minutes

Preheat oven to 220ºC/fan 200ºC/ gas. mark 7

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm cubes

Sea salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons harissa paste, diluted with 1 tablespoon water

300g cherry tomatoes

1 tin 400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Zest of a lemon, finely grated

3 tablespoons tahini, thinned with warm water to single cream consistency

Small handful of mint leaves

Flatbread or pitta bread to serve

Method

Pour the olive oil into a large ovenproof dish or roasting tray and heat in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully add the chopped aubergines to the hot oil. Season well with salt and pepper, add the diluted harissa paste and toss everything together. Place in the oven for 15 minutes then stir to make sure all sides of the aubergines are roasting. Roast again for 15 minutes.

Add the cherry tomatoes and roast for 20 minutes. Finally add the chickpeas and stir well. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in grated lemon zest and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Drizzle with a generous amount of the tahini dressing and scatter over the mint leaves. Toast the flatbreads or pitta breads in a dry frying pan and serve immediately.

Leftovers will keep when covered and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, cover the tray with foil and warm in a 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6 oven until piping hot.

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Roast peppers with anchovies and tomatoes

This is delicious as a light lunch or as a side dish. It is so, so simple and goes its everything – baked fish, roast lamb, griddled chicken, other vegetable dishes and takes only 10 minutes to prepare. This recipe is for four but can be scaled up or down as required. Some crusty bread for mopping up the delicious juice is almost essential.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 – 45 minutes

Oven temperature: 180ºC / 170ºC fan

Ingredients

4 red peppers, halved and deseeded.

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon capers, washed and dried

8 anchovies fillets, drained of oil and chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

50ml extra-virgin olive oil

Handful of basil leaves, if available

Method

Preheat oven to 180ºC/170ºC fan/ gas mark 4

Put the peppers into a roasting tin or a gratin dish from which to serve them.

Divide the sliced garlic, capers and chopped anchovies between the pepper halves. Put the tomatoes cut side down. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and grind some black pepper and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Transfer the peppers to a platter if not cooked in a serving dish, scooping up all the sweet juices and pour over the top. Scater the basil leaves over the top, if using, and serve.

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Spicy tuna rice salad

Spicy tuna rice salad

This is so simple that it might surprise you how good it tastes. It has quite a kick when warm, and is just as nicely spicy when cold. I found this recipe by Angela Hartnett in the Daily telegraph. To save time you can use Tilda or Uncle Ben’s microwave rice.

Serves 4 – 6

Cooking time 5 minutes

Ingredients

300g uncooked rice

2 tablespoons chilli sauce

Pinch of chilli flakes

200g tinned tuna, drained

5 anchovies, drained and chopped

15 pitted olives halved or chopped

Dried mixed herbs

Method

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions then drain and keep warm.

In a large bowl mix together the chilli sauce, dried chilli flakes and anchovies. Flake in the tuna and add the chopped olives.

Add cooked rice, mix to combine and check seasoning. Add a good pinch of dried herbs

Either serve hot or allow to cool before serving

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