I decided to make this stew on a week night… which was a terrible mistake. This was not because of the stew itself but because I massively underestimated how long it was going to take me to make it (almost 2 hours) and we ended up eating at 10pm. So I am putting that out there as a warning. This is a Sunday lunch type of affair not a quick mid-week dinner. It is so incredibly worth ever minute of effort though. This stew is not only gloriously flavoursome, it’s also very wholesome. What are you waiting for?
Jamie Oliver already proved to us that mac n cheese works when you add vegetables to it with his cauliflower mac ‘n cheese. This version contains butternut which brings a great sweetness and texture to the rich, cheesy sauce… and you don’t have to make a bechamel, which is always a bonus. Read more…
I have to say that this “posh pasta bake” as Mr O referred to it is probably in the top five most delicious things I have ever cooked. We were literally licking the bowl. Butternut, sage and nutmeg is my new favourite flavour combination. This recipe, which I adapted from how sweet it is might seem a little fiddly but it’s 100% worth it.
Stuffed butternut and sage millerighe
40 millerighe tubes (Millerighe is kind of like giant rigatoni. You could also made this with giant pasta shells or turn it into a lasagne)
For the butternut mixture
650g butternut, cubed (I bought two packets of preprepared squash. Cutting up a whole butternut is painful but if you have the time go for it)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
For the sauce
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
For the topping
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
10 – 12 fresh sage leaves
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Put the cubed butternut in a bowl, add olive oil, salt, pepper and mix well. Line a baking tray with foil and spread out the butternut mixture on it. Bake in the oven for 20 mins, flip over and bake for another 20 minutes.
While the butternut is baking, put a pot of salted water on to boil. Add the millerighe and cook according to the package instructions. Drain, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil to stop it from sticking and set aside to cool.
Now make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and then add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir together to form a paste. Remove from the heat and add the milk a little at a time, whisking well after each addition to ensure there are no lumps. Keep adding until all the milk is incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer, whisking all the time. Simmer, while continuing to whisk, until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
Take the butternut out of the oven and put into a medium sized bowl. Heat a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the butter, onions and garlic to the saucepan and cook until the butter starts to brown slightly. Add the butter mixture, mascarpone and parmesan cheese to the butternut and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
Stuff each millerighe with a little of the butternut mixture using a spoon and lay them in a medium sized baking dish. Cover with the sauce and then sprinkle over the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese and sage leaves. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I love Moroccan food but the idea of cooking it has always made me a bit nervous… so bring on this slightly cheaty tagine that you can make on the stove top in under an hour without a tagine pot. Hurrah!
Easy chicken and butternut tagine
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 onions, one roughly chopped, one sliced
100g fresh ginger
3 gloves of garlic
1 tablespoon dried cumin
1 tablespoon dried cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried coriander
1 butternut, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks (or just cheat like I do and buy 2 packs of the ready prepared one)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
600ml chicken stock
100g dried apricots, halved
1 small red onion finely chopped
50g feta crumbled
A handful of mint leaves
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or deep frying pan. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on all sides in. In the meantime throw the chopped onion, tomatoes, ginger and garlic into a blender and blend to a chunky paste.
Once the chicken is browned remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the sliced onion to the pan and fry for about five minutes to soften. Then add the spices and fry for another minute to release the aroma. Add the paste and fry for a couple more minutes to soften.
Now add the chicken back in as well as the butternut, sugar, vinegar and stock and bring to the boil. Then turn the heat down and simmer for half an hour until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pan, add the apricots and crank the heat right up to reduce the sauce down. While the sauce is thickening, break the chicken down to bite sized pieces.
Once the sauce is nice and thick, put the chicken back in and sprinkle over the red onion, feta and mint. Serve with couscous.
Serves 4 – 6