Pasta for 4 – I used fresh spaghetti
1 onion, finely diced
2 large handfuls of peas
1/2 cup butter, softened
A large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
Large pinch of salt
In a bowl mix the butter, lemon juice, mint (fresh and dried), salt and paprika until well blended. I’ve found it’s best to soften the butter first, about 10 seconds in our microwave on it’s lowest power setting does the job, although in the recent heat just leaving the butter out of the fridge for about an hour has the same effect. Once mixed pop it in the fridge while the rest is being prepared.
Next you’ll need to prepare your pasta. If you’re using dried pasta follow the instructions on the packet. Alternatively you can use our fresh pasta recipe for this, I just used the spaghetti cutter that came with our pasta maker instead of a knife for the tagiatelle described in the recipe. This recipe works great with any pasta so use your favourite.
The pasta needs to be just ready when you complete this next stage so timing is important. Thankfully this next step is pretty easy 😉
Now add about half the butter mixture to a frying pan on a medium high heat and when it has melted add in the onion and fry until they start to soften. Now add the peas and a little of the pasta water and let this cook the peas for 2-3 minutes.
Drain your pasta, then add the contents of the frying pan to the pasta and toss this over a medium heat. Add the remaining butter mixture and continue to toss the pasta until it has melted completely. Then you’re ready to serve.
Extra virgin olive oil
3 x carrot, halved lengthways and chopped
3 x celery sticks, halved lengthways and chopped
3 x onions, finely diced
3 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x anchovy
5 large tomatoes
50g sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped or blitzed in a blender
150g tomato puree
2 x large handfuls of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground cumin
500g lean mince beef
2 x bay leaves
300ml Italian tomato sauce
Once you have completed all the preparation, get a large saucepan, pour in a generous lug of olive oil and get it onto a high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Add the anchovy and fry this hard until it starts to break up and disappear. At this point add your carrots and bring the heat down to a medium heat.
Fry these for about 5 minutes, then add the onion and celery and reduce the heat to a low heat and continue to fry this until the onions begin to caramelise (usually twenty to twenty five minutes) stirring occasionally.
While this is happening you need to skin, quarter, core and de-seed the tomatoes. To skin them you will need a pan of boiling water and a bowl of ice cold water. First score an X on to the bottom of each tomato, with the water boiling hard, carefully pop the tomatoes in for about 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in the bowl of ice water to stop them cooking and make them easier to handle. Now you should be able to remove the skin by simply tearing from where you made the X. Next quarter the tomatoes and using a teaspoon remove the core and seeds in one go, you only want the flesh of the tomato. Remember to keep an eye on the main saucepan while you are doing this.
If the onions are starting to caramelise by now, simply remove the pan from the heat. Begin to fry the mince, with a pinch of cumin powder, in a large frying pan over a high heat. You want to brown the meat as quickly as possible, making sure that you brown all the meat.
Depending on the quality of the mince you may find that it releases some water once you start to fry it, if this happens keep the heat as high as you can and keep turning and moving the mince until all the water boils off. This can take a bit of time so don’t forget about the other pan, and remove it from the heat if the onions start to caramelise before the meat is done. You want to keep frying the mince until it is completely dry looking and starts to stick to your frying pan.
At this point your onions should have started to caramelise and you may have removed them from the heat, if you have, get them back onto a low heat for about a minute then add the meat. If the onions haven’t started to caramelise then turn the heat down on the meat and give it an occasional stir until the onions start to caramelise and then add the meat and stir the lot together.
By now there may well be some mince and fat stuck to your frying pan, this is great because that’s pure flavour. Add a good splash of your wine to the frying pan and using a wooden spoon or spatula gently stir and scrape those little bits off the pan, the heat and wine should make this very easy and in less than a minute all that flavour should have combined with the wine which you can now pour into the saucepan.
With regards to the wine: The conventional wisdom is to use red wine. If you have some available great, however the day I came up with this recipe, I looked at our collection of unfinished bottles and there were no reds, as I didn’t want to open a bottle of red just for this, I picked up a bottle of white wine, a Sauternes (very sweet wine) that had been open too long and had started to vinegar a little. A quick bit of measuring and in it went.
Now if my mum was still alive I would have gotten an earful, not only letting such a good wine start to vinegar but also for using it for cooking, that is until she tasted the end result, this gave the whole dish a different flavour than if I had used a red wine and exaggerated the caramelised flavour of the veg in a way that’s hard to describe.
Next you will need to add all the tomatoes, tomato purée, the blitzed sun-dried tomatoes, Italian tomato sauce, oregano, the rest of the wine, basil, bay leaves and stir gently.
Now bring this up to a medium heat and start to add the water, while stirring continuously. You want to add enough water so that the sauce is slightly thinner than you want the end result to be. In my case this turned out to be 500ml almost exactly but depending on the water contents of your ingredients you may require less or more. Once you’re happy with the consistency bring it to a very gentle simmer and cover the pot.
You want to simmer this for at least an hour stirring it occasionally. After an hour give it a good stir, if it’s still a little thinner than you like leave the lid off and let it simmer for a few more minutes and it should thicken up. I’ve had this Ragu simmering for up to 3 hours on occasion and if anything it just improves the flavours.
Finally, taste it and season it with salt and pepper if required and stir in 2 tablespoons of the best extra virgin olive oil you can find.
I like to serve this with fresh Tagliatelle and some Parmesan cheese, grated fresh over the top at the table.
Thankfully this recipe freezes really well and is ideal for freezing in bags as described here, 150ml is a serving so we tend to freeze it in bags of 300ml for the two of us. Alternatively, we’ve found the leftovers make great pizza. just spread some on your pizza base, add some cheese over the top (crumbled Mozzarella if you want to be really decadent) and cook as usual.
2 x 125g bags “boil in the bag” couscous
2 sticks celery
1 small bell pepper (your choice of colour)
3 medium tomatoes
1 200g tin sweetcorn
Handful frozen peas
Handful baby broccoli
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
Handful sun-dried tomatoes
3 handfuls raisins
Half teaspoon chilli powder
Herbs to taste (e.g. dried oregano, basil, rosemary – approx 2 teaspoons)
I love couscous, but the preparation can be messy. Superquinn stocks Roma Boil in the Bag Couscous which simply requires it to be boiled for 1 minute, then snip open the bag and pour out. It really is the easy option.
The recipe is so simple here – just chop up the celery, pepper & tomatoes really small and place in a bowl. Using a kitchen scissors, cut the parsley (stalks and all) into teeny chunks directly into the bowl. Also toss in the sweetcorn and raisins.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then add in the baby broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and frozen peas. Boil these for 2 mins, then throw in the bags of couscous. After 1 minute, drain off the water and carefully snip open the bags, pouring the couscous into the bowl, mixing it in immediately.
Slice up the cooked baby broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes (briefly boiling them allows them to re-hydrate slightly) and place these in the bowl along with the cooked peas.
Finally add approx 1 tablespoon olive oil, the chilli powder and dried herbs and stir everything together until well mixed.
This couscous can be eaten on it’s own, or mixed with some protein – try diced prawns & crab sticks; leftover roast chicken; or even flaked roast salmon. I like to make up a batch of this on the weekend and grab a bowlful each day for lunch, with a different topping each time.
If you don’t like any of the vegetables in the recipe, then you can leave them out, but I’d highly recommend replacing them with something you prefer – you could try diced onion, spring onions, roast sweet potato, broccoli or alfalfa shoots or asparagus.
For the fish cakes:
450g potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 large onion, finely diced
225g smoked trout, flaked
225g fresh cod, poached & flaked
225g fresh salmon, poached & flaked
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley (divide into 2 equal halves)
Zest of 3 lemons, finely chopped (divide into one-third and two-thirds)
6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs (approx 2 slices bread)
3 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
For the parsley sauce:
1 medium onion, finely diced
75g plain flour
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped (keep the stalks separate)
Makes 8 fish cakes (2 per person is a very decent meal) and enough sauce to cover them. If you are going to chill / freeze some of the fish cakes, reduce the ingredients for the sauce proportionately.
Directions on how to make speedy mashed potatoes can be found here.
To poach the fish, cover in cold water, add 1 bay leaf and bring to boil. After boiling for 5 mins, remove from heat and flake the fish, discarding the skin and the bay leaf. Remove any bones at this point and throw away.
Heat the 50g butter and sauté the onions over a medium heat for about 10 mins, so they are well cooked but do not take on colour.
In a large bowl combine the breadcrumbs, half of the chopped parsley and one-third of the lemon zest. Tip out onto a plate. On a 2nd plate, spread out your flour. Finally, on a bowl (or plate with high sides), pour out your beaten eggs.
In your empty bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, flaked fish, cooked onion, dill, chives and the remaining parsley and lemon zest. Mix well with your hands and divide into 8, forming into fish cake shapes. Dip each fish cake into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, coating well and set aside. The fish cakes can be chilled or frozen at this point for later use – 24-48 hours in fridge, 1 month in freezer.
Now turn your oven on to 200 C. Begin to cook the parsley sauce while the oven heats. Melt your butter over a medium heat and add in the chopped onion and parsley stalks, frying gently for about 10 minutes until softened, but not coloured. Reduce the heat and add in the flour, stirring well. Start slowly adding in the milk, about 2-3 tablespoons at a time, stirring in well to avoid lumps. You may need to play with the heat here, keep your mix just below a simmer.
Just after you start adding the milk to the sauce, heat enough vegetable oil in a frying pan to just cover the bottom. Fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly golden. Be careful not to use too much heat as they will burn easily. Once fried, transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
All this time you should have been keeping an eye on your sauce, adding the milk until you get to the consistency you desire. With about 2-3 minutes before the fish cakes are ready to come out of the oven, add in the chopped parsley and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper – this is very important as the sauce will be incredibly bland without added salt!
Note: if you can’t get the specific types or quantities of fish listed here, feel free to substitute smoked salmon, tinned tuna, etc, as needed.
4 chicken breasts, diced
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 chilies, finely diced
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely diced (or half a teaspoon of ground ginger)
1 teaspoon turmeric
500ml of hot water
Half teaspoon of ground coriander
50g salted peanuts
I like to use those “generic” chilli peppers you see in most supermarkets these days as they don’t give a lot of heat. This brings all the other flavours to the forefront and allows you to really enjoy them more than any curry I’ve ever tasted.
If you prefer your curry a little hotter, then you can adjust the strength of the chilli that you use, we’ve made this same recipe with Scotch bonnets and found that the extra heat changes the flavours and gives you a curry flavour not unlike the chicken curry you’d get down your local Chinese restaurant.
Fry the onion, garlic and peanuts in the butter until they start to colour (approx 10 Min.). Then add chili, ginger and turmeric and stir well.
Now, add the chicken and allow this to cook until it starts to brown. Follow this with the water and raisins, cover your pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep simmering until the sauce has reduced by half, stirring occasionally. (approx. 20-30 Min.)
Once the sauce has reduced then you’re ready to serve on a bed of fresh boiled rice.