Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce

I just love the versatility of using a tomato based sauce. It works beautifully on its own as simple passata with seasoning or you can amp it up and throw a heap of veggies in, or pretty much any kind of meat and maybe even some cheese!

So the Sunday night ritual continues and the dilemma of how can I make an amped up sauce that suits one who doesn’t like cheese, one who won’t eat a non meat dish and the other who wants more than “just” bolognese.

I’ve over killed it with mince at the moment so decided not to use it and went with chorizo instead as the meat option. I love the flavour it gives the dish and it’s a bit more substantial than bacon or pancetta. I also used Barilla Napoletana Sauce as my tomato base and added in a heap of veg to make it an even more nutritious meal.

To make this a complete dish, I used Barilla Egg Tagliatelle as the base and to mix through the chunky sauce! I love the texture it has and it holds the sauce really well. It also cooks really quick (5 minutes in boiling water).

So if you’re salivating and to want to give this dish a go, keep on reading for the recipe!

Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce (serves 4-5)

What you’re going to need

250g pack Barilla Egg Tagliatelle

1 jar Barilla Napoletana Sauce

125 g chorizo, sliced evenly (1 sausage)

3 medium cup mushrooms, sliced thinly

generous handful baby spinach

1/3 medium zucchini, finely grated

1/3 medium carrot, finely grated

handful pitted kalamata olives

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to season

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Prepare a large saucepan with salted water and place on a low heat.
  2. In a large frypan, add the olive oil and bring up to a medium heat. Once hot, add the carrot and zucchini and fry for 2-3 minutes. Once softened, add the napoletana sauce. Before discarding the jar, half fill with water and shake with the lid on to get the extra sauce stuck to the sides of the jar. Add the water from the jar to the sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, add the sliced mushrooms and spinach and reduce to a low heat.
  4. In a small frypan, fry the chorizo until cooked. Drain on some paper towel and set aside.
  5. Once water is boiling, cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, add the chorizo and olives to the sauce. With 1 minute to go, add the basil.
  6. Serve immediately on warmed plates. (your choice if you want to mix the pasta through the sauce or serve the sauce on top)

Disclaimer: The Barilla Pasta and Napoletana Sauce were provided as a gift. I only support and endorse products that I have used or cooked with myself. 

 

 

 

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg

Want to up the veg but are craving carbs big time and you want more variety than just more baked potatoes?

To make this dish a quick one (~25 mins), you need to choose vegetables that cook quickly in a fry pan. My new favourite kitchen technique for cooking things quickly is ribboning your vegetables! It almost feels like you get more yield per individual vegetable as opposed to slicing them up. Easy as, all you need to do is peel your veggie of choice (usually carrot, eggplant or in this case zucchini) and peel and peel and peel to get long thin slices that will cook in about 2-3 minutes. Amazing!

Next, to pump up the veg even more i threw in some cherry tomatoes and chopped green beans! I added in chicken as well to satisfy the family taste buds but for work lunches i’d probably omit it for cost and longevity in the fridge reasons. This dish is also conveniently dairy free.

Anyway, let’s get into the recipe!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

3 cups spiral/fusilli pasta (I use Barilla)

1 small chicken breast, sliced into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with peeler

handful fresh green beans, chopped into even pieces

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways

Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup baby spinach

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 clove garlic, grated with microplane/crushed

zest of 1/2 lemon, grated with microplane

salt to season

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook based on packet instructions.
  2. In a pulse blender, add all the pesto ingredients and blitz until at the desired consistency (not a paste but not too chunky). Set aside
  3. In a lightly oiled fry pan on a medium heat, cook the chicken until 90% cooked. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and pesto. Stir well ensuring the pesto coats all ingredients.
  6. Strain cooked pasta and add to the fry pan of ingredients. Mix well to coat pasta in pesto. Serve immediately.*

Chicken Pesto Pasta

*Can be served cold. Will keep in the fridge for ~3 days (with chicken) and ~5 days (without chicken).

 

Sausage Pasta Bake

Even though the weather is getting warmer, I am still persistent on baking most of my meals! Especially coming towards the end of the year with my first accounting exam and last colour belt grading for martial arts, I am willing to do just about anything to make the cooking process more efficient. I would love to spend hours in the kitchen but at the moment, I just can’t. Alas, I still want to create tasty meals for my family and keep up with my Sunday family dinner routine.

If you trawl back through some of my older posts, you’ll see I have already shared a few pasta bake recipes however this is my first tomato based one. I kept it simple and whipped up the sauce and ingredients all in one pan! (separate saucepan for boiling pasta though). If you’re super hungry and want to eat it quicker, you can skip the baking step! However if you’re all about the gooey cheese factor, then would strongly recommend finishing it off in the oven. It also makes it easier to portion for leftovers (which I accidentally catered for 6 people instead of 4 so now I have enough for lunches, yay!)

Sausage Pasta Bake (serves 4-6)

What you’re going to need

300 grams large spiral pasta (I used San Remo)

6 medium sized beef sausages

1 400g bottle Passata

1/2 zucchini, finely grated

1/2 carrot, finely grated

1 clove garlic, grated with Microplane or minced

4 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

handful basil leaves

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for frying

grated cheese for topping

Method

  1. Boil a large pot of water with salt and cook pasta until just under al dente (still a bit firm as it will further cook in the oven). Set aside.
  2. In a large fry pan, heat up the olive oil on a medium heat. Brown the sausages in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside on a chopping board.
  3. Reduce the heat in the pan to low, add a bit more olive oil and then add the carrot, zucchini and garlic. Stir and leave to become fragrant. Whilst this is happening, go back to the sausages and cut them into 2 cm sliced chunks.
  4. Once pan is fragrant, add the Passata, sausages and mushrooms. Mix well and season. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Whilst simmering, turn on your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  5. Once the Passata has reduced, add the cooked pasta and basil. Stir well to ensure all pasta is adequately coated in the sauce.
  6. In a large baking dish, carefully spoon all the pasta mix into the dish and spread evenly. Top with a generous helping of grated cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot. *

Sausage Pasta Bake

*Recipe is freezer friendly if there are leftovers.

 

Chicken Pasta Bake

Meal prep madness continues once again. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that I cook a lot of pasta and have absolutely no regrets. I’m all for carbs and I do eat them in moderation even if it might not seem like I do.

What I love about pasta for meal prep is its ability to freeze. For people who want to prep but are relatively time poor or just lazy, something you can bake and cut into even portions works a treat. Alas, pasta bake is a staple meal for me.

I parked the tinned tuna for the time being and moved onto chicken. My second favourite cooking technique (after baking) is poaching! Poached chicken is a no fail technique for perfectly juicy chicken. I elevated this dish by poaching my chicken in chicken stock! If you do have the time, I would recommend making your own chicken stock (I will put a recipe below in case you’re interested***). Poaching in water will still render you with perfectly juicy chicken so don’t fret if you don’t want to use stock.

So pasta, chicken… what else? This time around I threw in some bacon, spinach and mushrooms to balance out the dish. Then comes the sauce that combines this altogether. My go to for pasta bakes is bechamel. So if this is all sounding like it will tantalise your taste buds, here is the recipe below.

Chicken Pasta Bake (serves 4)

What you’re going to need 

2 heaped cups of Fusilli pasta (I have used San Remo)

1 small chicken breast (~150-200 grams)

2 slices short cut bacon, thinly sliced

3 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

handful spinach, thinly sliced

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

Bechamel

2 tablespoons margarine

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock (or water) to a simmer. Place the chicken breast in and ensure it is fully submerged. Cook for 25 minutes
  3. Whilst the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Set aside once cooked.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the liquid and set to cool slightly on a clean chopping board. Once safe to touch, use a fork to shred the breast meat. Set aside.
  5. For the bechamel, in a small non stick saucepan, melt the margarine on a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until flour has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk until well combined. Add back to the heat and whisk until mixture has thickened.
  6. Using the large saucepan used for the chicken (rinse first), add all the ingredients except for the cheddar cheese. Mix well until all ingredients are covered in the sauce.
  7. In a large baking dish, pour the mixture and spread evenly. Top with grated cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and darkened (note that the bacon, spinach and mushrooms go into the mixture raw and require cooking whilst in the oven).
  8. Remove from the oven and either serve immediately or allow to cool completely before packaging up for the freezer.

Chicken Pasta Bake


*** Basic chicken stock recipe

What you’re going to need

1/2 kilo chicken wings/chicken drumsticks/cheap cut chicken with bones

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 carrot roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

12 black peppercorns

salt to season

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat up some olive oil on a medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned.
  2. Add all the other ingredients as well as ~2 litres of water (enough to cover the ingredients but not too much excess as this will dull down the flavour).
  3. Place on a lid then set and forget! (well not completely but for a while). This gets better with time so give yourself a couple of hours minimum to develop a strong flavour!

Chicken stock is freezer friendly so save your leftovers!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

Another weekend, another opportunity to stock my freezer with prepared meals for work lunches! Yes there is more to my life than meal prep I promise but I have always found cooking quite therapeutic so it’s always a breeze for me to prepare my own food for work and not worry about foraging every lunch time!

I find at home that we end up with bits and pieces leftover from where we have tried new recipes or have just decided to experiment with different ingredients. As a result, we at my household tend to end up with random portions of ingredients which often get neglected or unfortunately thrown out if they’re there for long enough…

Alas, leftover meal prep is my favourite. Ideally with this approach, you only need to purchase maybe one or two ingredients to make a complete dish. In this case, I only bought some basil as it is a seasonal herb and our current garden supply has died off. Our lovely next door neighbour kindly donated some of her homegrown spinach which I put to use straight away. An ingredient that goes perfectly with spinach, feta! Feta is basically a staple in my house. With these and a couple of other bits and pieces, we have a dish!

Let’s get into it!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

12 giant pasta shells

1 bunch spinach, stems removed

150 g feta

1/4 cup walnuts

6 basil leaves

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Cook pasta shells as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a pulse blender/food processer, add the spinach, feta, walnuts, basil, salt and pepper. Blitz until well combined and a chunky paste is formed.
  4. Have a medium sized baking dish ready. Carefully hold a pasta shell (as they are still very hot) and place a spoonful of mixture inside. Place inside the baking dish. Continue until all shells and mixture have been used. Once all in, place as much or as little grated cheddar on top as you like.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese on top has melted and darkened.
  6. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and then package up in the freezer.

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

 

 

Prawn Linguine

The Sunday night dinner cooking slot at my house is all mine. I have free rein to make whatever I want. I am using it as an opportunity to practice cooking meat and seafood since I don’t normally cook meat/seafood based dishes for a single portion (tinned tuna does not count).

Having an abundance of pasta at home at the moment (Thank you San Remo) , I thought it would be good to whip up one of my favourite dishes, Prawn Linguine! A key component of this dish and one of my new cooking skills that I have taught myself is the prawn oil. This became the sauce of the dish and it is incredible how much flavour you can infuse into plain olive oil.

Since a lot of my friends are in Europe at the moment and I am having mega nostalgia from my trips in the past, I went with a Mediterranean theme for the complementary ingredients.

So let’s hop to it. Here is the recipe for you to give it a go!

Prawn Linguine (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

Pasta

250g Linguine (the one I used can be found here )

1/2 kilo green prawns, peeled and deveined (save the shells)

handful cherry tomatoes

handful baby spinach

1 tablespoon baby capers

Prawn Oil

Prawn shells and tails saved from the 1/2 kilo prawns

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 brown onion, roughly chopped (big chunks)

1 clove garlic, crushed with knife blade and not peeled

pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celcius. In a small baking tray, add the cherry tomatoes with a light drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Fill a large saucepan with water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring up to the boil.
  3. Whilst the tomatoes are baking and pasta water is heating, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion, salt and prawn heads and shells. Cook until aromatic (approximately 3 minutes). Once shells have turned orange, add the remaining olive oil and reduce to a low heat. Cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Cook pasta in boiling water until just al dente. Whilst waiting for the pasta to cook, strain the prawn oil in a jug and discard the solid bits. Set aside.
  5. With 2 minutes left for your pasta to cook (“just al dente”), heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan. Once hot, cook the prawns for 1 minute per side. Reduce to a very low heat and add the strained pasta, tomatoes, spinach and prawn oil to the pan. Mix well and ensure the prawn oil coats all the ingredients. Add the capers at the last moment before serving. Serve immediately.

Prawn Linguine

 

 

Barilla Cooking Class

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Northern Italian Winter pasta cooking class at Casa Barilla in Annandale, NSW. It was my first ever Italian cooking class and I was super excited. I entered the room and was warmly welcomed by all the Barilla staff and was served an aperitif. Then, it was time to meet the chef. Executive Chef Andrea Tranchero hosts all of the cooking classes at Casa Barilla and has done demonstrations at multiple food festivals and venues including the recent Good Food and Wine Festival in Sydney.

The class size was intimate giving a warm communal feel rather than a large industrial style class. We watched the chef create the two dishes we were to prepare ourselves later today and we were so amazed. The room smelled amazing and he made dishes that might seem complicated to the eye but are quite easy for anyone to prepare at home.

Andrea Tranchero plating up both courses.

So then it was our turn. First course was Cuttlefish Casserole in Red Wine and Garlic Sauce with Soft Polenta. I haven’t really cooked with a lot of seafood (tinned tuna does NOT count) but I love to eat it . So first up was preparing the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish was purchased from the fish markets earlier in the morning and was already cleaned (perfect). We pan fried it with some fresh garlic and the Barilla red wine and garlic sauce. Next step, the polenta. I really enjoy polenta but struggle to get it right. Thankfully, there is a pre prepared polenta that only takes 5 minutes to cook on the stove top! To finish it off, a mix through of some marscapone.

Progress shots from Course 1 and plate up

Second course was Three Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin, Crispy Guanciale and Sage. I had never really thought to eat puree with pasta but it just works SO well. Good way to get in extra veggies as well. So first we started with the pumpkin and leek puree. Really simple ingredients that complement each other perfectly. With the addition of freshly made chicken stock courtesy of Andrea, the puree was smooth and flavoursome. Next up was the sage butter sauce. We melted some butter in the pan until it was golden brown before adding freshly chopped sage. Once the tortellini was cooked, we added them into the butter with a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Once well combined, it was time for plating. Puree. Tortellini. Crispy Guanciale (similar to prosciutto and was fried in olive oil to get it extra crispy). Finished off with a drizzle of olive oil!

Progress shots from Course 2 and plate up

Each course was paired with beautiful Italian wine. After devouring our two courses that we freshly prepared, we had some Pure Gelato mini ice cream cones for dessert. Yum!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this cooking experience. Cooking classes give you a chance to learn a new skill, refine old ones and better yet, try out some flavour combinations you may not have even thought of! Would highly recommend you give one a go!


If you are interested in participating in one of Barilla Australia’s cooking classes, follow the link provided here – Barilla Pasta Cooking Class 

Click the links below for more info on Barilla Australia and Andrea Tranchero

@barillaaus

@andreatrancherochef