Recipe: Smoked Salmon & Baby Kale Pasta

I’ve become a little uninspired with my regular meals lately. Being on a health kick means that I’m trying to avoid too much cheesy–stodgy-stuff but I’m beginning to crave pasta. With that in mind I resolved to try and find create some healthier pasta dishes.

 photo 1d012c98-e87d-49dc-a050-00fc4902102e_zps0a3qw1l1.jpgMy Healthier Mac’n’Cheese went down well, but I was after something with a bit more zing. It was almost fate when Florette asked me to try and come up with a recipe involving one of their newest products – baby kale. I decided to throw together something with whatever happened to be in my fridge. It turned out delicious, so despite it not being the most attractive of dishes, it’s what I’m sharing here.

 photo 4f589190-c2d9-40ea-baa5-4e3085e0d1f1_zpsjzsygjx7.jpgIngredients

  • 1 serving of pasta (I use 60-70g usually)
  • 1/2 bag of baby kale
  • Some smoked salmon – I used Sainsbury’s Basics, pretty much the offcuts, tastes fine but the texture is wrong for in a bagel!
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Plenty of black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of low-fat creme fraiche

Cook the pasta, drain and reserve some of the cooking water.

Add the creme fraiche to the pan over a low heat, and wilt the baby kale. Add the lemon juice and pepper, stir through the salmon and pasta and heat thoroughly. That’s it – spectacularly quick and simple, perfect for after work. And goes nicely with a glass of white wine too!

 photo de8160e4-74f0-4dd7-8bb6-4f38655d6cfd_zpshfcklaj3.jpgNow, I love proper curly kale. I can get from the big, big bags in a week. Made into kale crisps as a snack, snuck into a salad, floating in soup, stir fried, or just steamed and drenched in gravy. It’s a winter staple for me. With that in mind I was curious about baby kale, but not curious enough to pay £1.30 for a bag…(disclaimer: I received vouchers for the baby kale, and a few other goodies including a recipe book, no money exchanged hands). It turns out that I do like baby kale, it’s like a more flavourful version of spinach. But worth the price? No. I’d sooner buy the regular stuff, though this is nicer in salads.

 photo 0daa69f5-efaf-4fad-a53f-06c14d348e37_zpsfliqffzp.jpgHaving said all that, I’ll definitely be adding this meal into the regular rotation. Quick, easy, healthy and very tasty, it’s just what I needed to spur me through this last week of dieting. I’m now raring to go and feeling a whole lot more positive.

Do you get bored of regular meals? What are your healthy mid-week staples – I need inspiration!

Recipe: Boyfriend’s Cheesy Pasta Bake

CheesyPastaBake photo CheesyPastaBake_zps5b08a68c.jpgThere’s a running joke that my future children will all be fat, and there’s a very good reason for this. My boyfriend is an amazing cook, in fact our mutual love of baking and cooking was one of the things we bonded over nearly four years ago. He likes to think he is better than me, and whilst sometimes he probably is I’ll always deny it. Neither of us are particularly intrigued by the healthy craze that seems to be taking the food blogging world by storm at the moment (cashew vegan “cheese” anyone?) and so today I bring you one of the most unhealthiest things I eat. Comfort food at its finest, and a recipe we both plan to be sure to teach our children to make as soon as they are tall enough to use the hob. And no vegan fake cheese in sight…

This cheesy pasta bake is rich, it’s filling, it’s hearty. I can rarely finish my portion (no matter how good we try to be, we always make too much). Its so, so cheesy, a teeny bit spicy, with good texture coming from both the grill and the meat. Its just utter perfection, and I can still remember the first time my boyfriend made it for me early on in our relationship. And I am not ashamed to admit that, on more than one occasion, he has offered to cook me a romantic meal and I have requested this.

Ingredients – for two greedy people

  •  Meat – we usually go for bacon and frankfurters.
  • Cheese – lots of it. At least two big handfuls of a strong mature cheddar. You could get posh and mix up your cheeses, but we rarely do.
  • 80g of pasta each – cooked and ran under a cold tap to cool.
  • Around 50g butter.
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour.
  • 500ml-ish of milk.
  • Seasoning – salt, plenty of black pepper, and some spicy (Cajun is particularly good here).

How to make my boy’s signature dish…

CheesePastaBake3 photo 2014-04-16194826_zpsc41b5099.jpgCheesyPastaBake4 photo 2014-04-16195144_zpsdeaff155.jpgCheesyPastaBake10 photo 2014-04-16195607_zps1f38ac81.jpgPrepare the meat. Dice the bacon, slice the frankfurters and fry in a little oil/butter until crisp. Add the spices (Cajun, not salt and pepper) to the meat just before it’s done, then mix this with the cooked and cooled pasta, and put into a baking dish.

CheesyPastaBake1 photo 2014-04-16194630_zps10a5533d.jpgCheesyPastaBake7 photo 2014-04-16195500_zps8fbc19ce.jpgGrate the cheese. When you think you have grated enough, grate some more. You’ll nibble at it whilst you make the sauce!

CheesyPastaBake5 photo 2014-04-16195420_zpsaba020d3.jpgCheesyPastaBake6 photo 2014-04-16195451_zps45e102a7.jpgCheesyPastaBake8 photo 2014-04-16195555_zps79bcdda2.jpgCheesyPastaBake9 photo 2014-04-16195557_zpsd31e8b1b.jpgCheesyPastaBake11 photo 2014-04-16195639_zps1a16ad73.jpgNow it’s onto the sauce. So many people shy away from make a classic white sauce in favour of the all-in-one method, but I’ve found that never tastes quite as good…Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it starts to foam, tip in the flour and stir continuously until golden brown. Turn the heat as low as it will go, and gradually add the milk in stages, stirring continuously. When all the milk is added season with salt and pepper, turn the heat up and stir continuously until thickened. Add the cheese and continue stirring. Then pour over the pasta/meat mixture. Use a fork to make sure all of the pasta is covered, top with some extra cheese (slices work best here) and grill for around 5-10 minutes until bubbling and slightly crispy.

CheesyPastaBake photo CheesyPastaBake_zps5b08a68c.jpgLet cool slightly, then serve up. As a small concession to the health-police – eat this with a salad. Its especially good with fridge-cold red peppers and crunchy lettuce. This is my all-time favourite, the meal I would request as my ‘last meal’ if I could.

What’s your absolute favourite meal?

 

Recipe: Homemade Pizza

Pizza. Definitely one of my absolute favourite foods, and one which I’ve not let my tomato allergy stop me from enjoying. White pizzas are just as popular over in Italy, and in my opinion just as delicious (plus you get extra cheese – why wouldn’t you want that?!). The lack of tomato sauce really lets the freshness of ingredients shine through; my favourite combo is a simple courgette, fresh basil and goat’s cheese mix, but adding broad beans and prosciutto is also insanely good…

 photo Pizza Dough_zpswwofx8v6.jpgPlease note that this recipe has now been updated (and, to be honest, much improved!), and can be found here along with some rather yummy topping suggestions.

Are you a fan of pizza? What’s your favourite topping?