Tag Archives: spinach

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Healthier 15 minute Mac and Cheese

My kids adore macaroni cheese and as a mother I love it- it’s a meal that’s done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. But it’s a bit stodgy and lacking in greenery isn’t it? I’ve used a Jamie Oliver variant of this recipe, but this one’s a lot easier and you can use most vegetables that are lying around. I find that the vegetables that work best with creamy, cheesy sauces are:

broccoli
courgette/small squashes
spinach
peas
sweetcorn
cauliflower

Basically vegetables that cook quickly and according to the list above, don’t have strong flavours.
I use broccoli a lot as I’ve always got it in the fridge and everyone likes it. Here’s what you need for 4 big eaters with at least leftovers for the kids the next day.

500g pasta – (we use rigatoni, but macaroni, fusili etc would all work)
250g Veg
50g butter
a desert spoon of flour
300 ml milk
50-100g grated cheddar (maybe a bit more for the top?)

Get the kettle on and pour boiling water over the pasta (I usually need 2 kettlefuls for 500g- add a tsp salt and allow to boil gently.

Meanwhile chop the broccoli/cauliflower/spinach/courgette into small chunks so they cook quickly. Set aside.

When the pasta is a few minutes away from being ready- throw the veg- it will only take minutes to cook.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. You’re looking for a mixture that is not a liquid. but not a dough either- somewhere in between! Cook very gently, stirring constantly for a minute until the roux is lighter in colour and changes texture. Add the milk a third at a time and keep stirring- use a whisk if it gets lumpy (it always does!) Bring slowly to the boil- the sauce should be thicker now. Turn off heat and add grated cheese.

Drain the pasta and veg and pour over the cheese sauce. Serve straight from the pan or tip into a serving dish, scatter over more grated cheese and bung under the grill for a few minutes until bubbling and golden.

Always a winner.

Cheaty Tuesday: Creamy Spinach Spaghetti with Tomato and Sausage

It is really one of those OMGWFT? days. Busy, busy busy and need something quick to cook, quick to eat and quick to clean.

This is the original 15 minute meal. Two pans, 5 ingredients.
Serves 2 big and 2 small people with leftovers.

You’ll need:

Sausages- I’m partial to a skinny chipolata: they are so quick to cook. 2 or 3 per person. For veggie sausages, I think Sainsbury’s are the nicest.

300g wholewheat spaghetti (my preference but any would do)
Half to a whole carton of passata (depending on your level of sauciness)
2 tbsp double cream
Frozen, chopped spinach (again, I can only find this in Sainso’s)
OR, peas, courgettes, broccoli.

Cook the spaghetti as per instructions and get the sausages frying nicely in a pan.
If you’re using peas, courgettes or broccoli, chop the latter two into bitesize chunks/florets and add to the boiling pasta a minute before the end of cooking time. (A naughtier but tastier method would be adding the veg to the frying sausages….)
Drain the pasta and veggies, keeping everything in the pot. Slice the sausages thinly and add to the pasta. Pour in the passata and cream. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with parmesan shavings.

Enjoy, safe in the knowledge that a clean kitchen is but a couple of dirty pans away.

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Creamy Pork and Beans with Mushrooms and Spinach

One frying pan and 30 minutes.
This is a quick, scrumptious recipe, but remember with pork- it doesn’t need much cooking. I’ve used flageolets here as they are my favourite, but cannellini would work just as well. Also- feel free to change the veg to anything else you fancy- courgettes, cabbage, kale- you get the picture.

For 4

500g fillet of pork- well seasoned
1 can flageolet beans
a few handfuls of fresh spinach/few nuggets of frozen
clove garlic, crushed
Punnet of mushrooms, sliced
sage leaves (nicer with but not essential)
splash of white wine or vermouth
splash double cream

Heat the oven to 170, heat a frying pan with a little oil and brown the fillet nicely on all sides. Place in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes. Then take out to rest for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, throw the mushrooms, sage and garlic into the same porky frying pan, frying until soft and add the wine/vermouth. Cook down a little and add the beans, spinach and cream and season well.

Cut the fillet into slices and serve atop the beans and veg.
Writing this is making me very hungry indeed.

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Friday 30 minute Frittata

30 minutes. One frying pan, one jug.
The thing about a good Frittata, is it needs to be really, really savoury. And thick. Always use the smallest frying pan you have- it needs to look like a cake when inverted onto a plate. It can take a lot of cheese- up to 150-200g grated parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or any other hard, interesting cheese. This one is inspired by the one I had recently in a local restaurant- Terracotta all primavera colours and amazing flavours. Hidden veg and fast preparation make it a Friday favourite.

For 4 (I’m sure this will do the next day’s lunch too)

7 eggs beaten
splash double cream (not entirely necessary- but if you have it in the fridge..)
1 large potato
2 cloves garlic
1 courgette, chopped
handful frozen peas
2 nuggets of frozen, chopped spinach
150g-200g grated cheese: parmesan, hard goat’s cheese, gruyere (cheddar is a bit boring here)

Heat a small non-stick frying pan with a good few tbsps of oil- you can pour off later. Slice the potato thinly (but not as thin as crisps) and season well with salt. Add to the pan and fry on a low heat (you want to soften, not crisp up) for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile beat the eggs in a large jug. Add the cream and season well.
Remove the potatoes from the pan and add to the egg mixture and give it a stir so the eggs don’t scramble. Pour most of the oil off the pan and add the courgette. Cook on a high heat until soft, then add the peas and spinach. (I usually crush the mixture up a little as whole peas so often cause offence to children.)
Tip the courgette mixture into the eggs, add the cheese and give it a good mix.
Pour back into the pan and cook on a LOW heat for ten minutes.
Blast the frittata under the grill for a few minutes until golden brown.
Serve with some nice crusty bread and a salad. Or just the bread.