Tag Archives: Basil

Fusilli with a Simple Tomato Sauce

Pasta with a Red Sauce (8056)

I spent the last thirty minutes or so reorganising my photos into ingredient folders, if that makes sense. I just have too many, but it’s been a very interesting exercise, because now I’m aware of some old dishes I’ve been wanting to publish for ages. So for now, every Friday is Pasta Day. Lately my least busy day, at least for the summer, has been Friday. Having said that, today has been quite a hectic one and all I want to do right now is eat, watch a movie and sleep. I have sadly finished all episodes of Castle. Sad days indeed. I had a very light lunch today so now I’m feeling ravenous. I don’t like heavy meals in the evenings though. I’m a light sleeper by nature, on the verge of being an insomniac, so anything heavy will make me sick. However I find that one of the gentlest things to eat at night is pasta. I know, I know, it may seem weird to you and it was to me too, the first time I read that. I mean, how was that even possible? I read an article a few years ago written by a chef. He said that he eats a small portion of pasta after a late night at the restaurant because apparently carbohydrates are one category of foods that are easiest to digest. I can’t remember where I read this but all I can say is that, for me, this works. I cut down quite a lot on pasta and bread these past few months, but once a week it’s pasta day in my house and that, my friends, makes me more than happy.

Continue reading Fusilli with a Simple Tomato Sauce

Patate Arraganate or Arrangiate

Patate-Arrangiate-(6436)

One evening I just wanted a simple side, prepared without too much faff for a weeknight supper. I must have had some leftover roast from the weekend before; can’t recall much because it has been a while. Proof? Look at the date. Yikes. J was still the one taking the photos for C&T. What I do remember though was that I had around an hour to spare for the prep and the cooking, and in a panic I just couldn’t think properly. Luckily in the nick of time I assembled an adaptation of an easy recipe by Gennaro Contaldo. I read it a few days before in Two Greedy Italians but with no time to find it from the book I tried to make a rough version of it. I have checked his recipe since then and he obviously gives measurement for every ingredient.

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Fusilli with Mandarins and Basil

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9088)

Before coming across this recipe in Jack Monroe‘s book, I would never have thought of pairing pasta with mandarins. (There’s no need to tell you again how much I like Jack’s book. You can read all about it in a previous post.) I was almost about to say that I never had anything sweet with pasta. Then I remembered I actually did! I’m getting older…

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Spiced Lasagna with Spinach and Ricotta

Lasagna-(6411)

I love a good lasagna. To eat that is. Well, let’s say that unless J is at home and can help me with lifting the heavy pans I don’t enjoy it. What I also don’t enjoy is the washing up of all those pots and pans. Even now as I’m writing this, my wrists are not happy and every time I write one word I have to stop and wish my carpal tunnel away. My frustration could also be a result of taking loads of pictures with this one and in my kitchen cooking and carrying a heavy-ish camera don’t always go together.

Look, not all cooking is a breeze and sometimes a challenge is good for the soul. Not to sound too dramatic, this is an easy dish, but it takes some time to prepare. You might be asking me “is there anything you like here?” Of course there is. I have extra portions for the next day, and it will taste even better tomorrow. Just give yourself a couple of hours for prep time and assembly and you’ll be OK. I admit I don’t make this as often as I would like, but when I do I remind myself that I should, and what better way to welcome the winter months! And the kitchen is smelling lovely! I also have a vegetarian one lurking in my files which I must not forget…

Please be aware there are quite a few photos in this post. I just thought they would be of help. Thank you for being ever so patient with me as always.

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala or mixed spice
  • ¼ chilli flakes (optional)
  • ¼ curry powder (optional)
  • 250g bacon, chopped
  • 2 shots red vermouth
  • 500g minced beef, preferably lean
  • 500g passata di pomodoro
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • around 250ml water

For the ricotta mixture:

  • 500g ricotta
  • 500g frozen spinach, thawed; you could also steam fresh baby spinach, and set it aside to cool
  • 100g fresh parsley or basil, roughly chopped
  • around 6 tablespoons milk, or enough just to thin the mixture a little bit
  • salt and pepper, to taste*
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 25g butter
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 litre semi-skimmed milk

You also need around 700g to 900g lasagna sheets (around 30 sheets), depending on the size of the dish you want to use.

To prepare the sauce place a large pan preferably with a heavy base on medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Chop the onion, crush the garlic and tip in the pan, together with the spices, and stir occasionally. Once the onions have softened and turned opaque add the bacon and the vermouth and let it cook through.

Add the lean minced beef and cook until brown. Pour the passata and sugar in with the beef mixture, stir, add the water, give everything a good stir once more, cover and let it simmer for around 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8639)

For the ricotta mixture, I would advise you to remove as much of the spinach water as you can. To do this, simply thaw on a sieve on top of a bowl and squash the spinach downwards with your hands or a spoon.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8643)

Place the spinach in a medium mixing bowl, together with the ricotta, fresh parsley, milk, add salt and pepper, give everything a good mix and now is the time to taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, add the beaten eggs, stir and set aside.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8646)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8673)

To assemble the lasagne, pour a thin layer of sauce, enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Then build the lasagna alternating as many lasagna sheets as you can fit in one layer (I can fit 6 in mine), then a layer of sauce, another layer of lasagna sheets, a layer of ricotta mixture, a layer of lasagna sheets and start the process again, until you get almost to the top.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8674)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8676)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8679)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8680)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8683)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8685)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and set everything aside to prepare the bechamel. In a small heavy-based saucepan make a roux, by melting the butter, adding the flour and stir vigorously until you get a golden paste, around 6 minutes will do the trick. As you whisk, gradually add the milk, a little at a time. Whisk to avoid any lumps and once in a while scrape the bottom sides of the pan so that nothing sticks to it. Whisk in all the milk until you get a nice velvety sauce. Add salt and pepper and some grated nutmeg.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8652)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8655)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8656)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8657)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8661)

Pour over the top of the assembled lasagna and bake for 1 hour.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8691)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8698)

Leave to stand for 15 minutes and serve to 6-8 hungry people! Enjoy with a glass of red.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8700)

I hope you enjoyed the recipe and the photos. If you decide to try this over the holidays let me know! I always appreciate feedback.

Happy Holidays!

Rob x

Basil

Today I just wanted to share with you some photos I took over these last few weeks. At the start of the summer I bought a couple of Basil plants. At first I wanted to try growing some herbs from seeds but these two beauties were too lovely for me to give them a miss. So I got them and they have been sitting on my windowsill ever since. I have repotted them and they now live in colourful terracotta pots; the first two photos were taken on the day they came home with me. You see, I didn’t want them to die on me before I took some sort of a record. I don’t have green fingers.

Basil (7788)

Greek Basil (7789)Around three weeks ago J noticed a teeny white flower growing on the Greek Basil plant. I read that these should be disposed of (or pinched off!) but again, looking so pretty they almost asked to be in a picture. So before I chopped its head off, I took a snap. And here it is.

Greek Basil Flower (8044)Greek Basil Flower (8046)

Then I did a kinda *off with their heads* thing. Finally I give you one of my favourite suppers of all, courtesy of these two lovelies which have brightened up this house, until we take good care of them that is…Pizza with Mozzarella and Basil (7874)

Pizza with Mozzarella and Basil (7905)

I wrote about and made pizza quite a few times so you can find my recipe and method right here. Hope you like the pictures as much as I do. Enjoy!

Rob x