Tag Archives: one pot wonders

Kale ‘n Pasta


The longer days mean the green things are kicking back into action in the garden. I even found enough nettles last week to make a soup – admittedly I had to search – which is a funny thing to do with nettles as come another month and we’ll be tripping over the bloomin things.
Nettles apart, some green things soldier on through the winter here. The kale, spinach and chard have managed to quietly survive the colder months and now that there is more daylight the growth is taking off and we are out picking leaves again.


We put kale in soups, salad and stir-fries, it’s a very versatile, it’s also one of those ‘feel good’ vegetables, so wonderfully green that you know it’s good for your nutrition

My new favourite way to eat kale is with some pasta. My pasta cooking skills have come along way since I left home. It was one of the first things that I cooked = Spaghetti buried in vegetables and sauce. The first time I went to Italy I thought they were very mean with the sauce and even meaner with the Parmesan cheese. I’ve since learnt to dress the pasta and use one or two key ingredients rather than everything that’s in the vegetable basket.

I have used orecchiette, which look like little ears and scoop up the sauce beautifully but you could use other pasta shapes.
Try to co-ordinate cooking the pasta with making the sauce.
Put a big saucepan of water to boil, blanch the kale and then use the same water to cook the pasta, just add more salt. The pasta cooking time varies from brand to brand and also from shape to shape so check your packet for cooking times.
The fried breadcrumbs are known as ‘pangratto’, which translates as breadcrumbs but it’s also known as Poor Mans Parmesan. They are easy to make and give an interesting flavour and texture to the dish.


Orecchiette with Kale, Chilli and Garlic

500g kale, stems removed
3 cloves garlic
6 anchovies from a can
1 tap fennel seed
1tsp chilli flakes
2 slices old bread
200mls olive oil
25g butter
500g orecchiette
150g grated Parmesan to serve

Put a large pot of water to boil. When it’s boiling add 1tsp salt and the kale. Submerge the kale with the back of a spoon and when the water returns to the boil drain the kale and refresh under a cold tap.
Squeeze any excess water from the kale and slice into thin ribbons. Season with a little salt and put aside.
Remove the crusts from the slice of bread and buzz to crumbs in a food processor.
Heat a frying pan, add 25g butter and 25mls olive oil, when the oil and butter bubble up throw in the breadcrumbs and toss well. Cook the breadcrumbs on a medium high heat until golden and crispy. Put aside.
Peel the garlic and slice thinly, chop once or twice and put aside.
Bring the large pot of water back to the boil. Add 1dsp salt and the orecchiette. Give them a good stir.
Heat the frying pan, add 50mls olive oil and the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes then stir in the anchovies. Stir the pan until the anchovies break down then stir in the shredded kale. Cook gently until the kale is heated through.
Strain the pasta into a colander. Tip the pasta into a bowl and then stir the kale through.
Drizzle over a little extra olive oil and sprinkle the crispy breadcrumbs over the top.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Cinnamon Noodles

This is a very surprising recipe that I learnt in Bangkok with May Kaidee. Cinnamon with noodles didn’t sound attractive to me so I was very impressed with the result
It’s just the business for a cold day and a very warming and a fast lunch

It’s a very simple recipe and it’s also quite flexible – I’ve already changed it as I didn’t have all the original ingredients – and it still tastes just as good.
Here’s my ‘Irished’ home version. The original recipe used mushroom sauce and soya bean sauce – this keeps it vegetarian – but I didn’t have either in the house so I used a mix of sweet soya, tamari and a little bit of shrimp paste to give it some body.

This is my take on the dish but feel free to play around!

1tbs coriander seeds bashed up in the mortar and pestle
3 fatty cloves garlic
1 hot red chilli
1 stem lemongrass
all roughly chopped then added to the mortar and pestle and ground to a paste.


1 tsp ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
stirred into the paste

1 carrot, sliced thinly.
a little chopped cabbage
a handful of chopped mushrooms
the centre of a head of celery – the fronds bit, chopped
a handful of chopped spring onions
700mls vegetable stock


1tbs sweet soya sauce
1tbs tamari sauce
1 tsp shrimp paste

a handful of rice stick noodles soaked in tepid water for five minutes

Heat a table spoon on oil in the wok then stir in the spice mix and cook on medium heat for a few minutes.
Stir in the vegetable stock, add the carrots, mushroom and tofu and bring to the boil.
Cook for 3-4 minutes then stir sweet soya sauce, tamari and shrimp paste. Next add the cabbage followed by the noodles. Cook for a couple of minutes more, take off the heat and stir in the chopped celery and spring onions.

Ladle into bowls and serve with crushed roasted peanuts and wedges of lime on the side.


Roots and Wine

Sometimes we enthusiastically drink wine in the middle of the week, this can lead to a ‘hang on a minute, what the heck are we doing’ moment and the cork goes back in the bottle. The bottle then loiters on the counter until we drink it or fling it in a dinner.

Roots and wine are a excellent combination and get the left over wine off of the counter and out of temptations way. The robust flavours of carrots, parsnips and beetroots mellow nicely when cooked slowly with wine, puy lentils, bay leaves and onions. I stirred in tablespoon of pomegranate molasses at the end which gave it a bright little lift.


Served with some mash they make an easy midweek dinner.


The mash can be spuds alone but often it’s a blend. Last night it was pumpkin and kale.

We’re eating a lot of pumpkin and kale at the moment, having a stash of pumpkins and plenty of kale growing in the garden. I mix fifty fifty potatoes and pumpkin, mash them with a little olive oil or butter then stir in finely chopped and sautéed kale.


This is a delicious winter dinner and I might as well mention it’s very good washed down with a glass of red wine!!

2 onions – peeled and chopped into wedges

a good glug of olive oil

3 stems of celery – diced

2-4 carrots – peeled and chopped into chunks

1-2 parsnips – peeled and chopped into wedges

4-6 beetroots -peeled and chopped into equal sized chunks

3 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped

2 bay leaves

150g puy lentils

about 250mls red wine – or whatever’s left in the bottle

750mls vegetable stock

1 tbs pomegranate molasses

salt and pepper


Heat a large saucepan the add a good glut of olive oil, enough to just cover the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Stir in the celery and continue cooking


Peel and chop the vegetables in the above order, adding to the pan as they are prepared. Season with a little salt and keep cooking and stirring on a medium heat.


Add the bay leaves then the puy lentils, wine and vegetable stock, bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for forty minutes. Check the vegetables and puy lentils. If they are tender they’re ready to go. Stir in 1tbs of pomegranate molasses and season with a little salt and pepper.




Autumn Bean and Fruit Stew

I am sitting outside on a bench writing this, delighted that sunshine and a warm breeze have returned. I am aware that it could be a five minute wonder and am enjoying every moment.

It feels like autumn arrived early this year but I’ve begun to wonder if it’s a case of the summer being so unusually warm that I noticed the temperature drop. It did feel strange to begin closing the windows against the evening chill and having to wear something more than shorts and a t-shirt.

The wonderful summer weather helped everything to grow. We have had bumper crops of salads, beetroots, courgettes, tomatoes, herbs …… everything that we planted thrived. Now that we’re moving into autumn we are tripping over beans and apples and we are picking bucketfuls.


I’ve been racking my brains for recipes that use either beans or apples as we have so many of them. I’ve trawled my bookshelves and the internet and found plenty of cake recipes for the apples. The savoury recipes are a bit thin on the ground if you discount all the apple sauce to go with pork ideas. A frittata with apples and cheddar made the curiosity list and there are various salads with apple that we can try.

When I woke up this morning I remembered a bean and apple stew that we used to make. It’s a recipe that is in one of the first recipe books that I ever owned. The book looks much loved and the recipe on first reading sounds a little bizarre. The original had banana in which are a definite no for me. I don’t recollect ever making it with banana. This is an updated version and makes a curiously good intro to the colder months.

Funnily enough it uses both French beans and apples. Eat with crusty bread for a substantial lunch or lighter dinner.



Autumn Bean and Fruit Stew


2 medium onins, peeled and sliced

2-3 waxy potatoes, peeled nd chopped in

200g carrots

2 tart eating apples

100g prunes

250mls cider

350mls vegetable stock

1 tsp dried oregano

a good pinch of nutmeg

1 can butter beans

2oog French beans

salt and pepper


Peel and slice the onions.

Heat a big saucepan, add the olive oil and the sliced onions, give them a stir and turn the heat to medium.

Peel the potatoes and carrots. Cut the potatoes into 2cm chunks and the carrots into 1cm rings. Add them to the pot, season with a little salt and pepper, and give a stir.

Peel and core the apples , cut into small chunks and add to the pot.

Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes then add the cider. Allow the cider to bubble up then pour in the stock. Stir in the oregano, prunes and grated nutmeg. Cook for a further 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Drain and rinse the can of butterbeans and stir in

Top and tail the French beans, cut them in half and add to the pot. When the stew returns to the boil cook for 5 minutes

Season with salt and black pepper