I have already made this tray bake twice because it was so easy and delicious, once for Mr O and I and then once for a pot luck Sunday lunch at N’s new house now that he has moved out of our flat. While it does take a little bit of time to make, actually throwing it together is really quick and the flavour is completely worth the wait.
I am a big fan of Leon’s fresh, healthy meals and snacks and now that there’s one at the bottom of my new building I will admit to visiting it quite often for lunch. I was lucky enough to get the Leon: Fast Suppers mini recipe book, which I have been coveting, for my birthday. This is the first recipe I tried from the book and Mr O and I were both impressed by how absolutely delicious something so simple could be. A great mid-week dinner, packed with flavour.
Penne with peas, pancetta and pesto
5 cloves of garlic
250g smoked pancetta lardons
3 tablespoons of olive oil
350g frozen peas
4 tablespoons of red pesto
Put a large pot of salted water to boil over a high heat. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onions.
Fry the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan over a medium heat for five minutes. Add the pancetta and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the peas and stir well to coat them with the oil. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the peas are cooking add the penne to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the cooking water. Return to the pot with the reserved water to keep it moist. Stir in the pesto and then the pea mixture. Serve immediately with a little parmesan grated over the top.
All salads are not created equal and I don’t remember the limp overly leafy salads of my childhood with much love. However, put together well, a salad can be as exciting a meal as any other. This is a salad I regularly knock up at home and it’s always a winner. The recipe below is for two as a main course but you could divide it by four and serve it as a starter.
Beetroot, goats cheese and pancetta salad
1 bag of mixed baby salad leaves
4 – 5 cooked baby beetroots, sliced (Sainsburys does an amazing pack of sweet baby beetroots that is ridiculously good)
80g pancetta lardons (again Sainsbury’s does a herbed variety that is delicious)
80g goats cheese (the unrinded, soft creamy variety)
8 baby tomatoes, halved
A handful of pumpkin seeds
Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Shake them around occasionally until they are toasted. You will hear them popping. Make sure not to burn. Set the pumpkin seeds aside and add the pancetta to the pan. Fry until crispy and then transfer to a plate with a piece of kitchen roll on it to drain off any excess fat.
Divide the leaves between two large plates. Spread out the sliced beetroot and tomatoes over the leaves, Then crumble over the goats cheese and sprinkle over the pancetta and pumpkin seeds.
Finally finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter.