Tag Archives: healthy recipe

Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies

Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies

Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies:

I’ve been making a real effort not to go overboard and do too many pasta dishes, but I need my fix now and again.  This one is super easy and quick to make and over the last few weeks it’s been creeping into my kitchen pretty regularly.  Sometimes on a Saturday night for supper after a day of weekend chores and sometimes during the week for something speedy.

Something I need to say before you get all uppity about anchovies, I’m not exaggerating, some people get all uppity, really.  You might think you don’t like them, but they are, as far as I’m concerned, an essential ingredient to have around.  They add great flavour, not fishy flavour, just and intense savoury depth.  I’m not talking about the nasty anchovies on pizza’s delivered by take-away chains, not those rusty little things, but the good quality version.

Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies
The Recipe

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  Under 10 minutes

Serves 4
Orechiette pasta, about 100gr/ 3.5 oz. per person – good quality, I like to use the brand ‘De Cecco’
1 tbsp oil from your anchovies
1 shallot finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
50gr / 1.7 oz.  anchovies, chopped
400gr / 14 oz. broccoli florets pre-cooked in salted water
50gr / 1.7 oz. pecorino, shaved
Juice of a lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Some extra virgin olive oil to dress
50gr / 1.7 oz. toasted pine nuts
Optional – dried chili flakes

Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies

 Method

  1. Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet.
  2. While the pasta is cooking heat the anchovy oil in a non-stick frying pan, cook the shallots, anchovies and garlic for a couple of minutes or until the shallot has softened.
  3. De-glaze the pan with the lemon juice and toss the broccoli through anchovy and shallot mix. Take a couple of tablespoons of water from your pasta and add it to the broccoli then add the pasta to the broccoli and stir through.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.   Not too much salt though because the anchovies will be quite salty.
  4. To Serve sprinkle over the cheese, pine nuts and chili flakes (if you want them), drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and enjoy straight away

Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies

 Tips and Variations              

  • To toast the pine nuts, place them in a non-stick pan on a medium heat for a few minutes, tossing regularly.

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Orechiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies

Spinach with Garlic

Spinach and Garlic

Spinach With Garlic :

Until recently I hardly ever made spinach this way, I hardly ever used nice big wild spinach leaves.  Mostly I’d use the baby leaves in salads with roast vegetables and cous cous, or, I’d use the frozen variety.  I still use both of these, especially the frozen type of spinach, it’s just so handy to drop into sauces, stews or soups.  I’ve noticed that although a lot of people tell me they love spinach, so many don’t cook it, or, they do the boiling thing – yeeeuuucchh!

I have to admit I’ve become slightly addicted to this recipe and go through loads of spinach this way each week.  But, I suppose there could be worse addictions, right?  I’ve been eating it so much I even started to think my body might be deficient in some vitamins or minerals, but then, that doesn’t explain my constant chocolate and ice-cream cravings – or does it?

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Cooking Time: Less than 5 minutes

Serves 4
1 x tbsp olive oil
4 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
500gr /  1.1 lb wild spinach, washed and woody stems removed.  Chop roughly.
½ a nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Method 

  1. Dry off the spinach with a clean tea towel to remove most of the excess water after washing.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, or you can do this in a larger soup/stock pan that will hold the spinach. The heat should be medium high.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about 20 seconds (don’t let it colour and certainly not burn), then add as much spinach as you can and toss it in the garlic until it starts to wilt. Keep adding the spinach until it has all wilted.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, grate over the nutmeg add salt and pepper to taste, stir through and serve immediately.

Tips and Variations

  • It is important to toss the spinach in your garlic and oil so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Alternatively you can add the garlic after the spinach, but I prefer it before as I like to cook the rawness out of the garlic.
  • I like to add some fresh or dried chili flakes to the oil and garlic, anchovies work well too. A spritz of lemon juice over the spinach before serving is also nice especially if you serve with chicken or fish.
  • This is a great side dish to so many meats, I love it with fish and chicken but goes equally well with pork or beef too.

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin and Spinach Spanakopita

Pumpkin and Spinach Spanakopita

Pumpkin and Spinach Spanakopita

I’m a bit of a pie fiend.  If left to my own devices I’d eat them any chance I get, so I have to exercise self discipline when it comes to lots of flavour wrapped in a buttery, crispy pastry.  Saying that, spanakopita isn’t a total calorie bomb.  Filo is lighter, and we don’t use so much of it here, not that I’m trying to justify my greed, oh no, I’ waaay past that.  Just hoping you’ll give this one a go.

Preparation Time:  40 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Roasting Tin Measurements: 34cm / 13in. x 20cm / 8in.

Serves 4 to 6
For the Pumpkin
1kg / 2.2lb of pumpkin flesh chopped into cubes of about 2cm/ 1in.
2 x tbsp of olive oil
A good pinch of salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

For the Spinach
250gr / 0.5 lb of chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water drained off.
2 x eggs, lightly beaten
6 x spring onions (scallions), chopped finely
3 x garlic cloves, chopped finely
150gr / 5.3 oz. feta
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Pastry
About 4 x sheets of filo pastry.  I buy frozen and let it defrost, but try to keep it chilled and work quickly because it gets quite fiddly to work with if warm.  The sheets of pastry I buy are about 34cm / 13in. x 45 cm 17.5in.
About 50ml / 1.7 fl. oz. olive oil
50gr / 1.7 oz. grated pecorino cheese

Method

  1. Place the pumpkin in a roasting tray, drizzle over the oil, sprinkle over the salt and pepper, mix through to cover with your hands and roast it for 20 to 25 minutes at 200°C (pre-heated oven) or until it has softened, still retains its shape and has taken on some colour.
  2. Whilst you are waiting on the pumpkin roasting, you can get on with the rest of the filling. Mix the spinach, eggs, feta, spring onions (scallions), garlic, nutmeg and salt and pepper together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. When the pumpkin is ready, remove it from the oven, but leave the oven on. Mix the pumpkin through the spinach mixture and taste to check for seasoning.
  4. Brush an oven proof dish lightly with olive oil and lay in a couple of your sheets of filo. You want it to come up the sides of the tray and if it is larger than that, just let it flop over the outside for now.
  5. Spoon in the pumpkin filling and cover with any excess filo. Then lay over your other sheets of filo, brushing each layer with a little olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle over the pecorino cheese and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the filo is golden brown and crispy and the pecorino cheese has melted.

Tips and Variations

  • Don’t worry if your filo isn’t all neat, just scrunch it and lay it casually. If it’s too tidy you won’t get all those crispy edges.
  • Normally, spanakopita is made with only spinach, but pumpkin makes a nice seasonal addition as well as giving a more hearty result.
  • You can eat this pie hot or cold, works great as a leftover with some simple green salad.

Pumpkin and Spinach Spanakopita

Chicken in Preserved Lemon Marinade with Spinach Salad

Chicken in Preserved Lemon Marinade with Spinach Salad

Chicken in Preserved Lemon Marinade with Spinach Salad

I always seem to have some kind of version of this meal in my recipe rotation.  This is the latest.  Inspired this time by preserved lemons.  One of those ingredients that I became aware of a few years ago, but didn’t know how to work with them.  This was my first attempt – seems like my strategy is to stay in my comfort zone of chicken and salad and to experiment from there.  I’m pleased to say that this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes plus up to 2 hours to marinate the chicken.
Cooking Time:  20 minutes

Serves: 4
Ingredients
For the Chicken
The meat from 2 to 3 boned, skinned chicken thighs per person
2 x preserved lemons chopped finely
2 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
4 x tbsp honey
3 x tsps coriander
1 x tsp cinnamon
2 x large garlic cloves, crushed
Salt to taste (I always taste this marinade before I add salt because the preserved lemons can be salty enough)
Optional: Some dried chili

Optional: Some toasted almonds to dress

The Spinach and Rice Salad
1 x large red onion chopped finely
100gr / 3.5oz. baby spinach
300gr / 10.5oz. rice, cooked and cooled
4 x tomatoes with their seeds removed and chopped finely
A handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped roughly

Salad Dressing
3 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one Lemon
2 x tbsp honey
2 x tsp coriander
1 x tsp cumin
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Bring the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl, add your chicken and cover it in the lemon marinade. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours if you can.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F, place the chicken in a roasting tray lined with aluminium foil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken has browned a little and is cooked through.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the salad. Stir the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
  4. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and mix them evenly. Only pour over the dressing when you are ready to serve otherwise it will wilt your leaves and the salad will become limp.  Toss the dressing through the salad gently with two large metal spoons.
  5. Check your salad for seasoning and serve the chicken on top with some toasted almonds sprinkled over the dish.

 Tips and Variations

  • If you are making this marinade for a lesser quantity of chicken I keep the measurements the same.
  • Once cooked, the chicken can keep for a couple of days in the fridge – great with all kinds of salads or in a sandwich.
  • The cooking time on your chicken may vary based on the thickness of the meat. If you feel the top is colouring too much before the meat is cooked you can place some aluminium foil over it for part of the cooking time to protect it as well as the chicken from drying out.
  • If there are nice juices in the bottom of your roasting tray, add them to the salad dressing.

 

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup :

It’s almost a cliché isn’t it – to post a pumpkin soup recipe at this time of year?  And that’s why I haven’t done it, until now.   Although I have never posted my recipe for this soup before doesn’t mean that I haven’t been making it.  Oh yes, many a pumpkin has found itself in my soup pan. The only thing was I was never completely satisfied.  I tried all kinds of ways to get the flavour, texture and even the colour right.  I used spices and herbs to try and get there, but it didn’t really do it for me.  I mean, my soup was good, but it just wasn’t hitting that sweet spot.   This year I had a bit of an epiphany on the pumpkin front.  It started, as so many of my recipes do, a bit by accident.  I say accident, but I’m only trying to cover up my compulsion to buy food (some women buy shoes, I buy ingredients).  This time I couldn’t resist all the different shapes and colours of the pumpkins at the market, so I came home laden.  One of the pumpkins I picked up was the red Kuri pumpkin – a new one for me.   You never know what you’re going to get with a new pumpkin until you open it.  I mean, the colour, flavour and of course the flesh to seed to skin ratio.  This was perfect, a good size too, so easy to handle.  Thin skin, easy to peel, bright, sweet and plentiful flesh.  When I was preparing the pumpkin my mind drifted to a red pepper that I had in the fridge so it found itself in there too.  I think this has given the soup the edge, these two ingredients, adding that great colour and extra little bit of sweetness.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
1 x red kuri pumpkin (about 1.2kg / 2.5lb), peeled, de-seeded and rough cubes about 2.5cm / 1in.
2 x tbsp olive oil
2 x large onions peeled and roughly chopped
4 x large garlic cloves chopped roughly
1 x red pepper, de-seeded and chopped roughly
1.5 x liters / 2.5 pts of good quality chicken stock or vegetable stock (no cubes please, please)
½  tsp nutmeg
1 x tbsp of honey or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To Serve (Optional)
Some natural yogurt
Sliced Almonds (walnuts or hazelnuts are good too)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid and add the onion, garlic, pepper and pumpkin. This should be done on a medium heat so that the vegetables soften a little but don’t colour. It’s nice to keep the vibrant colour of the pumpkin.  Cover your pan and allow to sweat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, nutmeg, salt (just a little – you’re stock will contain some), pepper and honey, stir through and allow the soup to cook at a gentle boil until the pumpkin has softened and cinnamon.
  3. Then use a hand mixer or liquidize the soup until it becomes a purée.  Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.  Serve dressed with some natural yogurt and a sprinkling of almond slices

Tips and Variations

  • Don’t worry if you can’t get the red kuri pumpkin, any type will do. I like the red kuri because of it’s extra orangey colour and I think it gives a smoother texture.
  • Swap the black pepper for white pepper to give it more of a kick.
  • For a creamier more filling version use parsnips or sweet potato as well as squash. This works well as a mealtime soup.
  • Another mealtime soup idea is to add a tin of chickpeas (drained) just before you whizz it up.
  • I would always recommend good quality stock to make soups as this is will affect the flavour greatly. Try and go to your butcher for this or some supermarkets do nice ones too.  The stock cube tends to just be a little bomb of salt and trans fat.
  • Pumpkin likes spice, so if you want a hot version, add some chili, this could be in the form of fresh, powdered or dried.
  • Serve with a bit of crusty bread or a fresh side salad – works well with a goats cheese salad.

Pumpkin Soup