chorizo and kale pasta

IngredientsDSCF7024

  • Kale, rinsed
  • Pre-sliced chorizo
  • Pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At University, the Monday of each week is ridiculously busy. I may only have 9 contact hours a week (yes, that is my degree), but with each week’s beginning I am out of the house 9am to 6pm. Now whilst this complaint might be a little self-indulgent as most people are out of the house between those times working, in terms of a Classics undergraduate, it definitely counts as a long day! And so, although the reasons behind may differ, this dish is brilliant for all those who are in need of a speedy supper after a somewhat late arrival home. All in all, this should take 25 minutes maximum, which is mainly taken up by boiling the pasta – time within which you can unpack your bags, change into something more comfortable, or simply relax on the sofa. Boil, fry, mix, serve. A meal of colourful, fresh ingredients from scratch in under half an hour. What more could you ask for?

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, bring water to the boil. Salt the water, and then add the pasta. Boil for 15-18 minutes, and then add the kale. Blanche the kale for 1-2 minutes, until wilted. Drain thoroughly and set the kale and pasta aside, keeping them warm.
  2. In the same saucepan, heat olive oil. Cut each chorizo slice in half, and fry until golden and really crispy. Mix the pasta and kale back into the saucepan alongside the chorizo, and stir to combine all the ingredients. Season, and serve.
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pork and sage lasagne

Although it was a while ago now, I am coming round to think that perhaps I was too harsh with my branding of lasagne as a “Food Technology” dish. Before I broke up from University for the holidays, I ate out with my family, and saw on the menu a roasted pork lasagne – which as I’m sure you’ll agree, sounds fairly sophisticated. A far cry from a school kitchen. Despite having no recipe for this dish, it sounded delicious; knowing how to cook pork, garlic and peppers respectively, I guessed that it’d turn out okay!

Whilst the main components of the dish were given in the restaurant menu, I chose to modify the tomato sauce, using sage to replace the basil or oregano found in ordinary lasagne. The herb sage pairs perfectly with pork. Used most frequently in sausages, the sage gives a savoury and minimal peppery flavour to the meat. Opting for this instead of Italian basil or oregano sets this lasagne aside from the usual bolognese variety, and thus makes it stand out as a dish. Moreover, the ready-listed ingredients went well with the choice of herb. Roast garlic is far sweeter in taste compared to the sometimes harsh flavours of raw pureed garlic – combined with the sage, the peppery nature of the herb offsets the sweetness of the garlic and creates an excellent balance of flavours. So here is my make-shift recipe, inspired by the menu of a lovely little pub in Kenilworth.

Ingredients

  • 350g diced pork
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, skin left on, with one end trimmed
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • ½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • Dried sage
  • 20g butter
  • 20g flour
  • 300ml cold milk
  • Grated cheddar cheese, to taste

Method

  1. Timing is crucial to this recipe – have a watch or a clock to hand!
  2. In a large piece of silver foil, place the garlic cloves with their skin still on with one end trimmed. Season with salt and coat in a small amount of olive oil. Wrap the foil tightly, and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the time – half way through the 25 minutes place the peppers in the oven to roast too.
  3. Whilst the garlic is cooking, prepare the two sauces and the pork.
  4. Begin with the tomato sauce, as this needs to simmer for the longest, and therefore can be left on the back burner whilst other components are made. Begin frying sliced red onions; when softened, add the tinned tomatoes and stir. Place a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to low and simmer.
  5. Around this time, the 25 minutes for the garlic should be reaching half way. To an oiled baking tray add the sliced peppers, and place in the oven for the remainder of the cooking period for the garlic.
  6. Heat a small amount of oil in frying pan over a medium heat. As the oil warms, add the diced pork and fry until browned, seasoning with pepper. When browned, remove from the heat and cut each pork piece into thin slices.
  7. Take the tomato sauce off the heat, and add the balsamic vinegar. Break the shape of the tomatoes against the side of the saucepan. Season, and sprinkle in some dried sage. Stir in the pork slices.
  8. Check the garlic and peppers – remove from the oven. Add the peppers whole to the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Open the foil wrap and leave the garlic to cool slightly, then squeeze the soft garlic out from the hardened clove shell into the tomato sauce. Stir once more, and then return the sauce to the heat to simmer through again.
  9. Now turn your attention to the béchamel sauce. Melting the butter in the pan, add flour until a ball forms. Stir in the milk gradually until a smooth sauce is created; season and add grated cheese to taste.
  10. As all components are complete, now is the time to form the lasagne! In a deep oven-proof dish, layer the lasagne – to ensure the lasagne doesn’t stick to the bottom of the dish, first place down a layer of pork and tomato sauce, followed by lasagne sheets.
  11. Then, order another layer of pork sauce, followed by béchamel sauce, followed by lasagne sheets. Repeat this order until all the sauces are used up, finishing with a layer of béchamel sauce over lasagne sheets. Top the final layer of béchamel sauce with more grated cheese, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the top is browned and slightly crisp.
  12. Remove from the oven, and serve with a fresh rocket salad.

courgette carbonara with red onion

Whenever I now pass Waitrose, I can’t resist the temptation to pop in. My new favourite thing about the supermarket is picking up their brilliant recipe cards; though primarily directing you to shop offers, and meals that can subsequently be produced, they provide a whole host of inspiration for fresh and exciting dishes. In fact, as of late, I owe a lot to Waitrose for leading me to new, delicious recipes. Despite the recipe working pragmatically to a tee, I felt there were modifications which could be made with regard to the dish’s assembly to prevent the courgette taste being lost in the wonderfully creamy sauce.

Researching into the traditional components of a carbonara sauce, I found a variety of fats can be used: butters, oils or creams. Whilst chefs, such as Delia, opt for a double cream based carbonara, creating a rich sauce with a velvety feel, it appeared this was not a true ideal in Italian regions. The Waitrose recipe instead chooses crème fraîche, a less rich version of cream, but a component that still causes the velvety texture. The benefit of creme fraîche also comes in the making of the sauce: carbonara is produced by mixing raw egg, parmesan cheese and a fat product, before warming through with the heat from the hot pasta, as opposed to heat from the hob. Whereas cream, like most dairy products of its kind, has the potential to split in an instant, creme fraîche does not curdle, and therefore is instrumental in finishing sauces. Thus, the use of creme fraîche in this carbonara sauce is perfect, not only in making its creation easier for novices at this recipe.

However, I decided to change the assembly of the dish for both reasons of presentation and precedence of flavour. Whilst the original recipe instructed mixing the courgettes through the spaghetti, I felt they would be better placed on top of the spaghetti to ensure their flavour was empowered. Although the courgettes, if eaten before the spaghetti, would not remain a constant throughout the dish, I found that once mixed as advocated their flavour was not strong enough to be noticeably present in the spaghetti. As a result, to showcase the courgettes it made more sense to place them on top of the spaghetti, allowing them to be enjoyed in their entirety. Moreover, I added more garlic and replaced the shallot with sliced red onion to increase the strength of the flavour of the courgette component, ensuring that it would have delicious flavour whether mixed or showcased.

Courgette Carbonara, Serves 2 (possible modifications)

  • spaghetti, roughly 150g
  • garlic: one clove for a subtle flavour, two for a more punchy blend throughout the dish
  • 1 shallot, or ½ red onion diced
  • courgette: one coarsely grated, or sliced using a potato peeler for long ribbons
  • 25g basil, shredded
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 25g grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • butter, for frying
  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions – usually, in boiling water for around twelve to fifteen minutes until al dente.
  2. The dish comes together whilst the pasta boils: begin heating a small amount of butter in a frying pan. Firstly add the onion to the pan, and allow to soften. Add the courgette ribbons and turn the heat to low.
  3. The courgette should wilt; at this point add the crushed garlic cloves, and turn the heat to medium. Season with black pepper, and stir to ensure the garlic is found throughout the courgette component.
  4. Once the courgettes begin to brown, stir through half the shredded basil, setting the rest aside for dressing later. Remove from the heat and keep warm, using a lid on the frying pan.
  5. In a clean bowl, whisk together the eggs and crème fraîche. Add black pepper, and stir thoroughly. Tip in the grated parmesan gradually, beating it into the sauce.
  6. Drain the pasta, and return to the pan, but removed from the heat. Pour the carbonara sauce over the pasta, and toss continuously to ensure the sauce thickens from the heat of the pasta.
  7. After thickening the sauce, add the remaining basil and stir to coat the basil in the sauce et vice versa. Divide the pasta between the bowls, and top with the courgette, onion and garlic mixture. Dress with more parmesan and season.
  8. Sprinkle over more shredded basil if desired, and serve immediately while the sauce is hot.

(Waitrose advocate referring to the Department of Health for further information regarding the use of eggs for certain demographic groups)

(Parmesan is not vegetarian unless otherwise stated on packaging)

(adapted from a Waitrose recipe card, one of more than 5,000 which can be found online)