Aubergine Parmigiana

Aubergine parmigiana is such a delicious dish, it’s basically multiple layers of aubergine, a slow cooked herby tomato sauce, and parmesan and mozzarella cheeses (drool). I personally think it goes well with a side salad and a crusty garlic bread or focaccia to mop up the sauce. YUM.

This recipe serves 2, and is a mini parmigiana. I’d recommend using a standard sized loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7 cm) as you’ll want to get lots of layers in. If you’re going to double up on the recipe and make a larger dish you can use a larger sized baking tray.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

  • 1 large aubergine
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • handful of fresh basil (roughly 15g)
  • 150g mozzarella
  • 30g parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. First make your slow cooked tomato sauce. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a medium saucepan with a lid on a medium-high heat and then add your onion with salt and pepper. Fry for 2-3 minutes until soft and then add your tomato puree, garlic and oregano and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar and basil and stir. Place the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 20 minutes minimum (the longer you cook it, the more flavoursome it will be!)
  3. Remove the stalk from the aubergine and slice into 1cm thick slices. Lay out your slices on a chopping board and use a pastry brush or kitchen towel to rub a dash of olive oil onto each slice (on both sides). You don’t want to add to much oil here. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the slices.
  4. Heat a large frying pan on a high heat and add your aubergine slices, char both sides, working in batches if necessary. It should take roughly 4-5 minutes to cook each side.
  5. Preheat your oven to 190C/gas 5. Assemble the parmigiana in your loaf tin (23 x 17 x 7cm) by first adding a thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of mozzarella and parmesan and then a layer of aubergine. You’ll end up with approximately 4 layers of each type so make sure you space out your ingredients accordingly. Repeat the layers until you’ve used all the ingredients.
  6. Top with a layer of mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden, crispy and bubbly.

Za’atar Cacio e Pepe

I was really hesitant to play with the classic cacio e pepe recipe, as it’s such a classic – butter, cheese and pasta is an almost perfect combination in my opinion. However, the addition of za’atar is such a game changer, and works SO well. For those unfamiliar, za’atar is a Middle Eastern herb that usually includes a combination of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac and toasted sesame seeds. It’s rich and flavoursome but isn’t overpowering, and it goes incredibly well with cheese! This recipe is based on an Ottolenghi recipe that I’ve experimented with and adapted to make it easier to prepare (I personally found the original recipe had a few pitfalls and did not have enough cheese for my liking!)

Ingredients:
Serves 2

  • 200g spaghetti
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5g za’atar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 15g pecorino cheese
  • 85g parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Sumac, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Bring 1L of water to boil in a saucepan on a medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon salt. Add the spaghetti and cook for 9 minutes (you want it to be al dente).
  2. Drain your pasta, but reserve all the pasta water as you’ll need this for your sauce.
  3. In a large saucepan (large enough to eventually hold all your spaghetti), add the butter and olive oil on a high heat for 1 minute, then add your za’atar and cook for another minute. It’s really important you add olive oil when cooking your butter, otherwise it will burn! (A huge problem I found with the original recipe).
  4. Add 3 ladlefuls of your reserved cooking water to the saucepan and boil on a high heat for 5 minutes, it should reduce a little.
  5. Turn the heat to low. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and stir so it is covered in your sauce. Add the parmesan and continue to stir so it melts through, then add your pecorino until melted and season with salt and the cracked black pepper. If your sauce is looking a little thick you can add more pasta water. Garnish with sumac.

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie

It’s British Pie Week! So in celebration of this fantastic event, I have a new pie recipe for you. This veggie shepherd’s pie is full of lentils, veg and warm spices that are slow cooked and topped with a creamy sweet potato mash. It’s a little different to your average shepherd’s pie, but is delicious all the same. The longer you slow cook the lentil/veg mixture, the more flavoursome it will be! Don’t be alarmed by the unusual mix of seasonings in the recipe, I promise the marmite and soy sauce combination will pay off and you’ll be left with a lovely rich and delicious pie! Lentils soak up a lot of flavour, so you’ll need a lot of seasoning.

Ingredients:
Serves 6

For the sweet potato mash:

  • 1kg sweet potatoes (approximately 5), peeled and cubed
  • 120ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 150g cheddar cheese, grated
  • handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper

For the filling:

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 200g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 250g split red lentils
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. In a large, lidded saucepan, heat your olive oil on a medium-high heat for 1 minute and then add your onion and pan fry for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add your mushrooms, carrots and red pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and immediately reduce the heat to low.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients for your filling then cover the saucepan. Leave to cook on a low heat for at least 30 minutes (I recommend leaving it as long as possible for maximum flavour and stirring occasionally).
  3. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, place your sweet potatoes in boiling water and boil for 20 minutes, until soft. Drain, and prepare your mash. Mash your potatoes in the saucepan and add the milk, butter and salt and pepper, you should be left with a smooth consistency.
  4. Place your lentil mixture in a pie dish. Spoon your mashed potatoes on top and pat down with the back of a spoon. Scatter your cheese and parsley on top.
  5. Bake in the oven on 180C for 30 minutes until the potato topping is crispy and the cheese golden.

Turkish Eggs

Turkish eggs are such a great brunch dish, the garlicky yoghurt topped with a herby butter sauce and gooey poached eggs is such a winning combo. It’s also ridiculously easy to prepare (as long as your egg poaching skills are on point!). They taste fantastic with a side of warm sourdough bread, make sure you use it to scoop up your egg yolk and sauce.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

  • 200g greek yoghurt
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • sea salt flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper (or chilli powder/paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sumac

Method:

  1. Stir your garlic into your yoghurt and place in a bowl. Sprinkle some sea salt on top.
  2. On a low heat, add your butter a small saucepan. Once it has melted stir in your aleppo pepper and olive oil and then pour your butter sauce over the yoghurt.
  3. Poach your eggs. The way I do this is by bringing a saucepan of water to boil, cracking the egg into a mug and then adding to the saucepan with the water on simmer, it usually takes about 1 minute. There are loads of tips and tricks for poaching eggs flying about on the internet, I have found this usually works fine!
  4. place your eggs on top of your yoghurt mixture then sprinkle your sumac and dill on top.

Homemade Quiche

Quiche is something I’ve always bought from a supermarket, and often taken on a picnic! They’ve tasted fine, nothing mind blowing, but an easy lunch or dinner. However, it turns out that making a quiche from scratch is surprisingly easy, and it tastes a hundred times better than the store bought kind! It can be eaten hot or cold, so leftovers are also great for a packed lunch.

I filled mine with salmon, goats cheese and spinach, which tasted lovely and fresh. But you can put pretty much anything in your quiche! Other ideas include a quiche lorraine, feta and sundried tomato, or any roasted veg.

I didn’t make my pastry by hand, I find the ready rolled stuff from the supermarket tastes the same and it saves a lot of time! In some stores you can even buy pastry quiche trays, which normally also taste good, which will save you even more time! You’ll need a 26cm flan or tart dish and baking beads.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 300g shortcrust pastry, ready rolled
  • 250ml crème fraîche
  • 150ml double cream
  • handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • handful of dill, roughly chopped
  • 100g goats cheese, crumbled
  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 salmon fillet, chopped into chunks
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Line your flan/tart dish with the pastry, easing it into the base. Trim any edges with scissors so it sits slightly above the tin and lightly prick the base with a fork and then lay your baking beads on top (make sure they reach the edges). Bake in the oven at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the beads and bake again for 5 mins until the pastry is a light gold colour.
  3. Prepare your quiche filling. In a large bowl, beat your creme Fraîche to slacken it and then beat in your double cream. Beat your eggs separately and then add to your mixture.
  4. Add your salmon, spinach, dill, salt and pepper, nutmeg and goats cheese and stir until evenly spread through the mixture. Pour into your pastry case and then sprinkle the cheddar on top.
  5. Bake in the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to set for 5-10 minutes before eating (otherwise it will be a bit watery!)

Moroccan Couscous

Have you ever been to a Moroccan restaurant (or Morocco) and tried the couscous and it always tastes amazing?! And then you go home and make your own couscous and it just tastes like cardboard? Yep, this is how I lived life until I discovered how to cook couscous the authentic way! It’s super easy, you cook the couscous in a bunch of herbs and spices which gives it lots of flavour and leaves it super moist.

Its great for a packed lunch, I like to batch cook a large amount and eat it throughout the week.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

For the roasted vegetables:

  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the couscous:

  • 150g couscous
  • 175ml boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 100g raisins
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g chickpeas

To garnish:

  • 1 carrot, grated
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • handful of almonds, roughly chopped
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate

Method:

  1. Lay your red pepper, onion, aubergine and garlic on a baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes at 180C.
  2. Whilst the veg is cooking, prep your couscous. Place your couscous and raisins in a saucepan that has a lid (you don’t need to place this on a stove, the couscous doesn’t need boiling!). In a bowl whisk together the ground coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil with the boiling water. Pour over the dried couscous and raisins and cover with the lid for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in your chickpeas, roasted vegetables and then plate up and garnish with all the garnish ingredients.

Chicken Katsu Curry

Katsu curry is a classic fave of mine at Wagamamas. I’ve never really known what goes into the sauce, it just always tasted great. Now I’ve made it at home I’m shocked at how simple it is to make! And honestly, I think the homemade version tastes even better than the Wagas original. It’s delicious and warming and full of flavour.

The best thing about the sauce is that it freezes really well, so you can make a big batch and freeze for when you’re feeling lazy.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

For the Katsu Curry Sauce:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small-medium sized carrot, diced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 450ml chicken stock (or veg stock)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon mango chutney (or you can use sugar)

For the panko breaded chicken:

  • 2 80g boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 100ml buttermilk (you can also substitute for yoghurt)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  1. First, marinade your chicken thighs in the buttermilk. Add the turmeric and garam masala and stir. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, ideally overnight.
  2. Next, make your curry sauce. Place your oil in a saucepan on a medium high heat and then add your onion, carrot and red pepper and a pinch of salt all in one go. Continually stir until soft, this should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, if the mixture is looking dry or is catching the pan at this stage, add a dash more olive oil and add your garlic and ginger. After 1 minute add your turmeric, garam masala, curry powder and flour. Cook for about 5 minutes, continuously stirring.
  4. Pour in half your chicken stock and stir. Then add your soy sauce and mango chutney and leave to simmer for 1 hour. During this hour, stir occasionally and keep adding the remaining chicken stock a little at a time.
  5. For the breaded chicken, heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat. You ideally want the temperature to remain at about 170/180c (if you have a thermometer). Lay your panko breadcrumbs on a tray or chopping board and place your chicken thighs in them, turn over a few times to they are covered and then add to the pan. Cook each side for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells

These pasta shells are stuffed with a herby spinach and ricotta mix and laid on a bed of homemade, slow cooked tomato sauce. It’s honestly so full of flavour and delicious. The pasta shells were a little hard to source, but I found them on Ocado here. You can also try Italian delis.

If you are short of time, or feeling lazy, you can substitute the homemade tomato sauce for a jarred alternative from the supermarket. I personally prefer the homemade sauce as the flavours in my recipe are amazing, you get a really lovely rich tomato sauce. You can also batch cook it (double/triple the quantities) and freeze portions to use later, the sauce freezes really well.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

For the homemade tomato sauce:
(Note: if you are short of time, you can use 400g of jarred tomato pasta sauce instead)

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • handful of fresh basil (at least 10-15 leaves but the more the better!), roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 50ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

For the pasta shells:

  • 15-20 pasta shells
  • 250g ricotta
  • 200g spinach leaves
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 125g mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  1. First, make your slow cooked tomato sauce (if making, if you are going to use a jarred tomato sauce, skip step one). Place your olive oil in a saucepan with a lid on a low heat, then add all your ingredients and stir. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pre heat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Boil your pasta shells so they are cooked al dente, you’ll want to boil them for roughly 6-7 minutes.
  3. Prepare your ricotta spinach mixture which you will use to stuff the pasta shells. In a frying pan, heat your olive oil on a low heat and add your garlic. Cook for roughly 30 seconds-1 minute (you don’t want it to burn) and immediately add your spinach, salt and pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt then turn off the heat. Stir in your ricotta and lemon zest.
  4. Lay your tomato sauce on the base of a deep baking tray. Fill your pasta shells with the ricotta/spinach mixture and lay on top of the sauce. add your mozzarella in chunks to the tops of each pasta shell.
  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes in the oven until the cheese is golden brown.

Mushroom and truffle risotto

I am mildly obsessed with truffle! Until now it was something I mostly ate in restaurants in pasta dishes (usually with a hefty price tag!), however my friend gifted me some truffle oil over Christmas, so I’ve been getting that lovely truffley flavour in my home cooked dishes. My favourite so far is this mushroom and truffle risotto, it also makes your kitchen smell amazing. If you don’t have access to any truffle oil, you can just make this a mushroom risotto and it still tastes great!

Ingredients:
Serves 2
Overall time required: 30 minutes

  • 25g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 125ml white wine
  • 450ml chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock if vegetarian)
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3-4 portobello mushrooms, to dress
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 25g cheese – I like to use cheddar, comte or gruyere

Method:

  1. Boil your rice according to the instructions on the packet, or boil in 200ml water in a saucepan for 10 minutes.
  2. In a frying pan, fry your onion in the olive oil on a medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the diced mushrooms and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add your garlic then turn the heat down to a medium-low.
  3. Pour in your white wine and then add your cooked rice. Whilst continually stirring, add your chicken stock in small increments. You basically want to add more stock when the risotto starts looking dry and then continue to stir.
  4. Meanwhile, in another frying pan (you can use a dry pan if non-stick, otherwise add a dash of olive oil), add your portobello mushrooms and fry on a medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper and flip over after 4-5 minutes and cook the other side. Once cooked, set aside to dress your risotto at the end.
  5. Add your cheese to the risotto mix and stir until melted through. Then add the truffle oil and parsley. Serve with your portobello mushrooms on top.

Kerelan Prawn Curry

I absolutely love South Indian food, their creamy coconut curries are delicious. In this recipe I’ll show you how to make your own curry paste from scratch. It’s a little bit time consuming and you’ll need to get a couple specialist ingredients (all can be found in large supermarkets though, or local Indian shops), but the effort is worth it as you’ll end up with a fragrant, authentic curry paste. You can also batch prep your paste and freeze it into portions to be used later.

Ingredients:
Serves 2
Overall time required: 1 hour

  • Olive oil
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes or 8-10 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 12–14 peeled raw king or tiger prawns (if you don’t eat seafood, use 2 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, or 1 aubergine)
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
  • flaked almonds, to garnish
  • Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 8cm piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Method:

  1. First make your curry paste. The paste seems really time consuming to prepare, but you can batch prep the paste and freeze portions to use at a later date. You can either use a pestle and mortar or a small food processor. Add the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, ground turmeric and a pinch each of sea salt and chilli powder to a pestle and mortar or food processor.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small pan on a low heat and add the mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop. Transfer to your pestle and mortar/food processor and pound/blend. Roughly chop your garlic, ginger and chillies and add to the paste until smooth. Mix in the tomato purée and tamarind.
  3. Start prepping your curry. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add your red onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat down to low, add the curry paste and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook on a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk and gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the prawns (or your chicken or aubergine). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the prawns are lovely and pink and just cooked through. If using chicken you will have to cook it for a bit longer (5-10 minutes)
  6. Turn off the heat and add the yoghurt.
  7. Garnish with the flaked almonds, coriander leaves and extra yoghurt. Serve with rice or naan.