- Kale, rinsed
- Pre-sliced chorizo
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
Make the most of what could be nature’s most weighty fruit – the humble pumpkin.
I can’t recall where I found this recipe now, but I have a feeling that it was in a promotional recipe book. Wherever it was from (and I promise to dig through the mounting piles of paper in my room to find out!), it is fantastic. I made it for my boyfriend, and as an avid meat eater, he was probably a little unnerved to discover that it was vegan – if something could taste this good without meat and dairy, what else would turn out to be lies?! But yes, the wonderfully creamy texture of this dish has absolutely no connection with a cow, or a goat, if that’s your milk of choice. It is the pumpkin that takes centre stage, rather than sliced chicken, or meat. Along with tomatoes, it gives the stew a vibrant hue that is cosy and inviting. And just one mouthful confirms that it tastes as good as it looks – the smooth consistency is deliciously welcoming, whilst the hint of chili from the cajun spice lends warmth. Though October famed, pumpkins are actually seasonal throughout winter, coming in in September and at their best from October to December. Which makes it the perfect muse for this wintry stew, spicy and comforting for when it’s just too cold outside.
Ingredients, serves 3-4, (can be frozen)
- ½ pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 400g tin of plum tomatoes
- Tin of coconut milk
- Cajun seasoning – preferably one that has fennel included in it, such as Barts
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Fry the sliced onion in a drizzle of olive oil, until they begin to wilt. This should take around 8-10 minutes. Add in the sliced peppers, and stir until they begin to colour.
- Add the garlic to the pan, and fry until it begins to smell aromatic. Add the Cajun seasoning to taste, and stir thoroughly to ensure all the ingredients are coated in the spices. Season.
- Place the pumpkin chunks into the pan, and fry until they are softened a little. Then, add in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the pumpkin is softened through. Serve immediately, with boiled potatoes or crusty bread for dipping!
Serve, listen, enjoy.
- 1 sweet potato, cubed
- ½ courgette, cut into medium-thick slices
- A handful of green beans, trimmed at either end and boiled until al dente (10 – 15 minutes)
- 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 ball of mozzarella, thinly sliced OR roughly 5 slices of ready-sliced mozzarella
- Dried basil & oregano
- Dried chili
- 1 block of puff pastry (JusRol etc)
- Salt and pepper, to season
- Olive oil, to drizzle
What makes this tart a light and easy supper is the eschewed pastry lid. Although pies are a delicious comfort food, with flaky pastry and a hot indulgent centre, they require time and effort which cannot often be devoted with regularity. This tart is especially easy, as the pastry is ready made, saving time and producing good results with consistency. Without a pastry lid, the cooking and preparation time of the tart is significantly reduced, meaning that it can be enjoyed as a regular supper, even when pushed for time!
Aside from the time-saving benefits, this tart can be carried across all seasons. This tart looks and tastes like summer – the courgettes, green beans, peppers and sweet potato all provide amazing, bright colours and are light to eat. However, these summery bites can easily be swapped for winter’s favourites: earthier vegetables, such as butternut squash and mushrooms. Similarly, although this version is vegetarian, the tart could easily have additions of shredded chicken, or pork, matching the meat with different vegetables, herbs and spices. Having the basic formulae for this tart means that several dishes are created, as many varieties can be designed according to personal taste. So, edit and enjoy!
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees. On a large baking tray, scatter the sweet potato cubes and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until soft and golden brown. Remove from the oven, and set aside for later with the ready-cooked green beans. Keep the oven heated.
- Lightly dust a clean surface with flour, and place the puff pastry block onto this side. Take a medium sized rolling pin, and roll the puff pastry out to the same size as a medium size baking tray.
- When the puff pastry is the same size as the baking tray, roll the pastry out an extra centimetre on each edge. Take the baking tray, and lightly grease it with butter. Sprinkle the tray with flour, and shake, allowing the flour to stick to the tray. This makes it non-stick, and will stop the pastry sticking or burning onto the bottom of the tray.
- Place the pastry in the baking tray, and fold the extra pastry centimetre inwards, twisting the corners for presentation. This will allow the pastry to puff up fully and give a flaky, buttery edge to the tart.
- Take three slices of mozzarella – place one in the middle of the pastry, and the other two in opposite corners of the pastry. Evenly the sweet potato, green beans, red pepper and courgette onto the pastry.
- Season the vegetables, adding a sprinkle of chili and the dried herbs. Take the remaining two slices of mozzarella, and place in the remaining corners of the pastry on top of the vegetables. Add a crack of black pepper, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
- Place in the oven, and bake until the mozzarella is golden brown and the pastry is puffed up. This should take around 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with a green salad!