Pasta with chicken, pancetta and peas

We had roast chicken recently (no photos, sorry!) which once again left us with some cooked chicken leftovers. As ever, we turned to the fabulous book A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry. We’ve cooked quite a few of her leftover recipes and they’ve always served us well (I’ll never forget that bird pie – awesome!).

This recipe really couldn’t be much easier. We’re cooking pancetta, onion and peas, then adding some chicken, lemon zest and double cream. Some chopped mint goes in near the end to flavour the cream, and then it gets served up with some pasta (we used fusilli – nothing fancy).

You can’t really go wrong here. It’s a winning mix of ingredients, and cooked chicken always tastes better the next day. We scoffed the lot and sat feeling very contented with ourselves afterwards.

Arnold Bennett Frittata

This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals“, a book which we’ve had a long time but don’t often use. Although the book’s title is accurate, and you can crank these recipes out very quickly, they also tend to generate a lot of washing up. They’re also usually aimed at four people, and the quantities involved don’t always halve nicely. This recipe jumped out, however, as one which looked fairly “washing-up-lite” and easy to do for two people.

Method wise, there’s hardly anything to it. Poach the fish with some bay leaves and pop the focaccia in the oven to warm/toast. Beat the eggs and add some peas and chopped spring onions along with some seasoning.

The fish should be cooked by now so remove it from the water and break it up a bit using a fork (and removing the skin if there is any). Pour the egg mixture into a pan and after a minute or so until it starts to set, then add the fish. Sprinkle with parmesan and put under the grill to finish.

That just leaves the salad, which is basically some grated apple (sprinkled with lemon juice to stop it going brown) and watercress. Some chopped chives and walnuts with a glug of olive oil finish it off. Jamie also adds emmental, but Mark isn’t a fan of cold cheese so we skipped that bit.

Surprisingly quick and easy, and looks really impressive because there are so many parts to it. Full marks to Mr Oliver. The only problem we had is that this really is a meal for four, so with half the ingredients our frittata looked a bit thing (should have used a smaller pan really).

Spiced Vegetarian Paella

We’ve done quite a few recipes from the Thrive on Five book, but recently discovered that there are some more recipes listed on their website, including this one for spiced paella.

The premise is the same – one meal containing your five portions of vegetables for the day. I was particularly intrigued to see how paella could work without chorizo though!

Things didn’t get off to a great start though when I realised there were no cherry tomatoes in the fridge and we’d used the last chilli. By way of compromise, I threw in an onion for extra vegetables, and found a dried and smoked chipotle chilli which was brought into service.

There was another mistake too, when I decided it wasn’t spicy enough and added some chilli flakes, but the lid came off the jar and I added far too many!

The resulting meal though worked surprisingly well. There were definitely some strong paella-style flavours here – helped, no doubt, by the saffron – and the spiciness didn’t overwhelm. I’d still prefer a meaty paella, but with all the health in this one I can’t really complain.

Lamb with Lemon and Mint

This Nigel Slater recipe comes from the Kitchen Diaries and is remarkably quick and simple. Mix a bit of olive oil with some lemon zest and chopped mint, then pan fry some lamb steaks in it. Then put the lamb to one side on a warm plate and deglaze the pan with some lemon juice.

This is accompanied with some boiled potatoes – the idea is that you cook them until they’re soft, and then when eating you can squash them with your fork to mop up the meat and lemon juices. We also threw some peas on the side because you can never get enough vegetables in your diet!

Simple and speedy, a tasty way to round out a long weekend.

Teriyaki Salmon Noodles

This week I’m cooking a few recipes from the Sainsbury’s Homemade by You website, and this teriyaki salmon recipe comes from there. It’s a vague attempt to try and eat a bit more healthily this week.

The ingredient list is fairly straight forward, but it does rely on a couple of “prepared” ingredients which are out of the ordinary for us – a specific teriyaki and ginger stir fry sauce, plus a pre-prepared pack of stir fried vegetables.

It’s very easy to make – the salmon is pan fried, and most of the time taken to cook was actually just waiting to make sure this was properly cooked through. You then boil up some noodles, stir fry the vegetables and bung it all together, flaking the salmon first.

It’s quick to serve and satisfying, but the portions looked a bit on the small side for us; we actually had the recipe for 4 people between the two of us.

Trout and Pea Spaghetti

Tonight’s dinner is a very quick and easy recipe from the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website. However there was a substitution in our online shop and we ended up making it with smoked trout instead of smoked salmon.

It’s very easy to make. Cook the spaghetti, broccoli and peas all in the same pan. Whilst they’re cooking, fry some garlic and onion. Then drain the spaghetti pan, mix the contents with the onion and garlic mix and throw in some lemon juice, creme fraiche and chopped dill. A splash of the pasta water will also help spread the sauce around.

30 Minute Paella

After the messy, complicated and ultimately disappointing tofu ramen the other night, I was regretting having chosen another recipe from Homemade By You, but they’ve redeemed themselves. We’ve always been huge fans of paella, so their promise of a 30 minute version was very appealing.

This recipe is super easy to make. Fry the chorizo, then put in a bowl. Fry the onion, then the pepper (keeping the lid on the pan so that they ‘sweat’) before adding paella rice, chicken stock and saffron. Simmer for a bit with the lid off, then a bit more with the lid on. Add the seafood and chorizo and cook a bit more, then add some frozen peas and cook for a bit longer. Squeeze over some lemon and you’re done.

OK, so it’s not a truly authentic version but it definitely has all the right flavours and made for a very satisfying dinner. The Homemade By You website is back in our good books.

Caribbean Pumpkin and Pea Curry

Still on the mend from our man-flu we needed some vegetables in our system, so we turned to trusy old Thrive On Five for some inspiration. They have a great range of spicy recipes and we’d not trid this one before.
The list of ingredients is long but healthy – squash, tomatoes, onions, peppers, mango, peas, ginger, garlic, turmeric, allspice, curry powder, coconut milk, black eyed beans and… drumroll please… a scotch bonnet chilli.

We have a mixed history with these fiery chillis. I’ve had nice meals made with them in the past, but Mark once made a curry so hot it was completely inedible. This recipe works well though – pierce the chilli and let it sit in the curry as it simmers, then fish it out before serving. Spicy but not too spicy.

Green Chicken Minestrone

Last night’s dinner was a recommendation by my old housemate from student days, @dr_slevans, who cooks this one for her husband and boys. It’s a Nigel Slater recipe which you can find on the Guardian website.

The ingredient list isn’t too long, and was great for us because it was a chance to use up some broad beans which have been sat at the back of the freezer for way too long.

Considering we just used a chicken stock cube, it’s amazing how rich the broth tasted. With all the peas, leeks and broad beans it contains plenty of veg too. Many thanks for @dr_slevans for a tasty dinner recommendation!

Steak and Oven Chips (Fries)

We mentioned earlier in the week that there was a shopping mix up and we ended up with more steak than intended, so we used it up today with this simple meal. The steak was fried in butter with a little salt and pepper and a bit of sauce was made by deglazing the pan with (cheapo) brandy. 

But the star of the show tonight were the chips (or fries, for our American readers). These were healthy though – no deep fat fryers for us. We sliced the potatoes and par-boiled them. Then after draining they were rolled in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted in the oven. The important thing is turning them every 5 or 10 minutes to make sure they crisp up. 

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In the end, I didn’t do a brilliant job of cooking the steak – it was a bit in the chewy side – but the fries made up for it.