Spaghettini with Courgettes

courgettes julienne cropped

This dish can be made for any number.

110g spaghettini per person
1 ½ tbs olive oil per person
1 clove garlic per person, crushed but with skin left on
1 tbs per person tomato concasse
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Pinch of dried Italian mixed herbs
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium courgette per person, julienne, fried until soft & golden
Grated parmesan

Cook the spaghettini in a large pan of boiling water.

Meanwhile heat the oil with the garlic in a wok. 4 minutes before the spaghettini is ready, remove the garlic and discard. Add the tomato concasse, chilli, herbs, salt and pepper and gently sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the courgette and stir gently to heat through.

Drain the spaghettini and add to the sauce. Toss well, adding a little more oil and salt if necessary. Serve immediately with grated parmesan.

Paella Valencia-style

Smoked paprika

Serves a hungry 2

Pinch of saffron
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
6 chicken wings, halved, tips discarded, lightly seasoned with sea salt
½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced
4 runner beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 rounded tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp tomato puree
200g paella rice (or bomba rice or similar)
650ml chicken stock, plus extra if needed
Sea salt
A small 200g tin of broad beans or butter beans, drained

Heat a paella pan or wide based pan to a medium-high heat.

Prepare the saffron. Wrap it in a small foil envelope and place it in the hot pan for 10 seconds on each side. Remove and set aside.

Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the garlic. Add the chicken and fry it, turning the pieces regularly until well browned and nearly cooked through, approx. 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Remove any excess oil from the pan. Add the peppers and green beans to the pan and stir fry until well coloured.

Sprinkle over the paprika, then stir in the tomato puree. Gently stir in the rice and toast for a few minutes. Crumble the saffron into the stock and pour it over the rice, season with sea salt, stir very gently to mix. Don’t stir too much.

Once simmering, return the chicken to the pan and add the broad beans. Stir in gently. Simmer on a fairly high heat without stirring, then lower the heat a simmer gently for another 5 to 10 minutes, again without stirring. If it starts to dry out too much, add a splash of boiling water but not too much as the finished dish mustn’t be soggy and the edges and bottom layer of rice should be crispy.

As soon as the rice is cooked take the pan off the heat and cover with foil to allow it to rest for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.

Tomato and Mascarpone Soup

Mutti Passata low res

Serves 3

Soups are a Godsend for vegetarians because they offer such a range of different flavours, textures and colours and, usually, they are healthy too.

Tomato with mascarpone is a classic flavour combination. I add sun dried tomatoes to my recipe to make this soup quite luxurious.

2 tablespoons of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely diced
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
700g passata
2 tablespoons tomato puree
4 to 6 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
125g mascarpone

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano and give everything a good stir. Cover and sweat on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Stir in the passata, tomato puree, sun dried tomatoes and stock. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, approx. 20 to 30 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly then puree with a stick blender. If you want a very smooth soup you can pass it through a sieve it but I prefer not to as I like some texture in it. Gently reheat the soup and whisk in the mascarpone until it is completely melted in and incorporated. Check the seasoning and serve.

The cooked soup can be chilled and stored in the fridge until needed.