Tag Archives: pasta

Things I have been cooking lately #149: Mediterranean vegetable and chorizo tagliatelle

Our flatmate calls this “cupboard pasta” because when I invented it it was based on whatever I could find lurking in our fridge and cupboards that needed using up. It turned out to really tasty so I have subsequently bought the ingredients and made it on purpose. Try it out and see what you think.

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Things I have been cooking lately #119: Skinny vegetarian pasta bake

Recently Mr O and I have been trying to eat more healthily as I gained back a little of the weight I lost and we’d both been indulging everyone of our food whims… which never ends well. This is  recipe I put together by adapting a much more unhealthy one. It’s very tasty but also super healthy and I would highly recommend it if you’re trying to cut calories but not flavour. Read more…

Things I have been cooking lately #99: Penne with peas, pancetta and pesto

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
2 onions
250g smoked pancetta lardons
3 tablespoons of olive oil
350g frozen peas
4o0g penne
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.

Serves 4


Things I have been cooking lately #57: Stuffed butternut and sage millerighe

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.

Serves 4


Bolognaise for beginners

My Sunday Lunch for beginners seemed to be quite popular so I’ve decided to do another basic recipe simplified down so that anyone can make it. This is a great lazy but hearty weekend meal that it’s definitely worth adding to your arsenal. It’s fab for family, friends or for sharing with that special someone with a nice glass of red wine. Make sure to start about 90 minutes before you want to eat.


1 large onion
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery
2 cloves of garlic (or a cheat and buy pre-chopped garlic and use a heaped teaspoonful)
100g cubed pancetta (you can buy this in little tubs at most supermarkets)
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary (or the leaves from a sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped)
500g lean beef mince
1 small tub of sun dried tomato paste
200ml boiling water
1 beef stock cube
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
250g dried spaghetti
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese to serve

Peel the onion and carrot. Chop the ends off the onion, carrot and celery sticks and then cut all three into small cubes. If you are using cloves of garlic, then chop these finely too. Don’t feel like you have to do this all fast like they do on cooking shows. I have zero knife skills. It takes me ages to chop things. Just go at your own pace. The cubes should be about 1/2cm big for the veg and 1mm big for the garlic.

Put a large pot (or a deep pan) with a lid over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Allow to heat until the oil is completely runny. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, pancetta and rosemary to the pan. Fry for 5 minutes, giving it the occasional stir (about once a minute).

Put the kettle on for the boiling water. Add the mince to the pot. It is important to break the mince up as you brown it (browning just means cooking it until almost all of it has just turned colour from pink to brown) so that you don’t end up with any big lumps of meat. It’s really easy to do this, just use a wooden spoon or spatula in a twisting motion, keep doing this until you can’t see any pink bits of meat and it’s nicely separated.

Measure out 200ml of boiling water. Crumble the stock cube into the  water and stir well to mix. Add to the mince, give it a stir and let it bubble for a minute. Now it’s time for the flavour secret weapon, sun dried tomatoes. You can buy a little jar of sun dried tomato paste from Sainsburys (and most other supermarkets).  Now empty the pot of sun dried tomato paste into the mince and stir it through. Add the tinned tomatoes. Allow this to heat up until it’s all boiling. The turn down the heat as low as possible to keep it just bubbling. Cover with the lid.

Leave it for half an hour. Then take off the lid, give it a good stir and leave it for 20 minutes with the lid off. Sometimes taking the lid off can cool it all down and stop it from boiling. If this happens, turn it up the heat a little but remember you want a very gentle bubble not mad boiling.

When the 20 minutes are up, boil the kettle again. Put a medium sized pot over a high heat and add enough boiling water so that it is 2/3 full. Add a teaspoon of salt. Now add the pasta to the pot. If it is too long to fit in your pot just put one end in, this will soften and then you can push the rest in. Let the water come back up to the boil. Check your spaghetti packaging to see how long to cook it for. Keep the water boiling throughout the cooking time but keep an eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t boil over. When the cooking time is up, fish out one strand of pasta and taste it. It should be “al dente, which means that it provides a little resistance when you bite on it but isn’t chewy.

1186104_10151850238515638_1426263582_nWhen the spaghetti is done, drain it through a colander. Remove the bolognaise sauce from the heat, add the pasta and stir through. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top and garlic bread if you fancy it.


Serves 4 – 6

Things I have been cooking lately #44: Creamy prawn and mushroom linguini

Barring my fetish for cake (mmm… cake) most of the recipes I post tend to be on the healthier side, but every now and then a little indulgence is in order and this rich pasta dish does not disappoint. Definitely not for everyday eating but great for a special treat.

Creamy prawn and mushroom linguini
Adapted from chaosinthekitchen.com

120g uncooked linguini
6 tablespoons butter, divided
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
120g light cream cheese
300g cooked, shelled prawns

Put your linguini on to cook in a pot of boiling, salted water.

While that’s cooking, put a large pan over a medium heat and add two tablespoons of the butter. When this is melted add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and brown. Season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.

In the same pan melt the remaining butter. Add the garlic, herbs and cream cheese and stir over a medium heat until mixed together. Don’t worry if it looks a bit weird at this stage.

Add a ladle full (about 2/3 cup) of the boiling water from the pasta pot to your pan and stir till the sauce is smooth.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce and simmer for 8 mins. Then add the prawns and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Mix the pasta and sauce together to coat and serve.

Serves 2 – 4


Things I have been cooking lately #8: Pasta Bake

This is a kitchen staple in the Osbiston household and probably my hubby’s favourite thing that I cook.

Pasta Bake

4 rashers of smoked back bacon, fat removed and roughly chopped

50g mushrooms, sliced

2 gloves of garlic finely chopped

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons of soft cheese e.g. Philadelphia but I buy the cheap supermarket brands

1 teaspoon of dried basil

Black pepper

75g cheddar cheese, grated

200g dried pasta – shells, fusilli or macaroni are ideal

Heat a medium sized non-stick pot. Add the bacon and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms have browned. Add in the tomatoes, soft cheese, basil and a good shake of the black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the sauce is going to come to the end of its simmering time, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions but reduce the cooking time by about 2 minutes so it’s still just a little chewy.

When the sauce and the pasta are both done, mix them together and pour into a large baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees (190 for a fan oven) for 20 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread and a green salad. Serves 4.

When Jamie met Abbi

Last night Yvonne, Tracy, Alex and I went to Recipease in Clapham to learn how to make pasta the Jamie Oliver way. I will admit that I was excited all day and when we arrived I spent ages ooh-ing and ah-ing over the mixing bowls… considering that I recently had rather a lot of fun baking with small children I am coming to the conclusion that I am turning into a housewife… advice on how to stop this from happening in the comments please.

Houswives ready!

My domesticity aside, we were issued with glasses of wine and aprons and watched a charming Scottish chef called, Jimmy, demonstrate how to make pasta dough. Jimmy made it look simple, while being barked at by his co-chef, a girl we nicknamed Argumentita, who was the very picture of the stereotype of aggressive, loud, in-your-face South Africans you might have been fed. Alex, my hob partner and I were pretty good at the dough. We figured we were legends in our own lunch hour and even labelled our dough with our Austin Powers spy names.

The name's Cleavaaaaage, Luscious Cleavaaaage...

Then Jimmy showed us how to thin out our dough and make pasta shapes. Again, it looked like a child could do it. Ravioli? Bring it on! Unfortunately not all of us had Jimmy’s magic fingers and some of the efforts were less than stellar… mine in particular. No thanks to Argumentita having a go at me in Afrikaans once she figured out we could understand her.

It's all gone wrong!

When we cooked it all up with and threw together Jimmy’s sage sauce, I became baffled by the fancy oven controls and burnt the butter… with every second my respect for the Masterchef contestants increased… in the end it was all perfectly edible and despite looking like it had been put together by a four year old, it was some of the tastiest pasta I’ve ever had. I think with a little practise I could become a pasta master yet.

If you’re looking for an unusual evening activity, I’d definitely recommend it and if anyone wants to know what to buy me for my 30th (in 6 short months) a pasta maker is a definite yes!