Mushroom, pesto and cream lasagne

This great big plate of vegetarian delight comes from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries.

It’s something of a cooking marathon his – I think that beginning to end took about 2 hours. That’s because you have to cook the mushrooms and onions, plus you have to make the pesto, and in our case we also had to make béchamel sauce. None of these tasks are particularly strenuous, but together they add to the time and coordination required.

Once you’ve got everything ready, alternating layers of pasta and mushroom filling are put into a dish, and then topped out with the pesto and finally the béchamel. It takes about 40 minutes in oven at the end, so this clearly isn’t a quick thing to throw together but the end result is a really nice take on lasagne and despite being vegetarian it completely satisfied us two omnivores.

A friend of ours managed to cut down the prep time by using ready made pesto and béchamel sauce which still produced something tasty – you can check out the evidence on his Instagram here.

One-Pan Roast Salmon and Asparagus 

The tray bake is an easy way to make a tasty weeknight meal: very little prep and minimal washing up. Usually very tasty they’re rarely healthy, see for example Nigella’s Spanish Chicken.

This recipe from BBC Good Food has all the ease of a tray bake but less guilt. New potatoes are roasted over about 45 minutes while other ingredients are added to the pan. First in-season asparagus, then cherry tomatoes, and finally salmon fillets. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar mid-roast adds sweetness while the fresh factor is boosted by a handful of torn basil at the end.

An easily adaptable recipe that could see any meat, fish or seasonal veg thrown in. Replace asparagus and tomatoes with apple and Brussels sprouts and the salmon for belly pork, for instance. Doesn’t that sound good?!

Caponata

A Sicilian vegetable stew (any rustic food containing any two of pine nuts, anchovies, raisins, sultanas, or lemon turns out to be Sicilian!) we had never had Caponata before. Consisting of diced, fried aubergines, to which shallots and chopped plum tomatoes are added, seasoning came from the addition of brined capers and a large dash of red wine vinegar.

Dressed in basil leaves and toasted pine nuts, this would admittedly be seen more as a well-presented appetiser by most people than a mid-week evening meal. We ate it, as recommended by the source of this recipe (BBC Good Food), scooped on to slices of garlic-rubbed, toasted ciabatta.

A light, very tasty meal.

Which left plenty of room for a slice of cake afterwards.

Stir Fried Chicken with Basil

It’s another Nigel Slater recipe tonight, and another visit to The 30-Minute Cook. This one’s incredibly easy again – fry the Thai green curry sauce, then add the chicken, followed by coconut milk, chilli and sugar. Finally add some basil before serving up with some rice.

You can easily cook this whole meal in about 15 minutes. I think I got the quantities a bit wrong – not enough sugar (and it was muscovado at that, not brown), too much coconut milk, and I excluded the nam pla (Thai fish sauce) because Mark doesn’t like it. But this is One Tasty Recipe. Definitely one for repeat meals!