Tag Archives: tomato


Braised Turkey Meatballs with Feta

I almost confused this recipe with the titillating sounding “My Big Juicy Meatballs” which can be found (like this one) in the ubiquitous Joe Quick’s “Lean in 15”. Sadly Mr. Quick’s book does not tell you how to shed 2 stones in 15 minutes but how to cook lean food in 15 minutes.. sounds like a man with a plan. In all honesty, it takes more like 30 minutes to rustle this up if you’re not that keen on your onions retaining a crunch, but is very simple and absolutely delicious. Obviously being lean, Joe Quick doesn’t serve these meatballs with anything, but we like a bit of cous cous or rice to soak up the sauce. Oh and don’t be tempted to leave out the feta- it really makes the dish. I crumble some into the kids’ dinner before they notice.

This little dish could serve up as much as 3 of your 5-a-day, and is incredibly low-fat and nutritious.

For 4 (but we can usually get two meals+ out of this recipe)

1 red onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 courgette, chopped
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
40g feta, crumbled
500g turkey mince
salt and pepper, minced oregano or parsley to add flavour to meatballs

Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and fry off the chopped vegetables for 10 minutes until softened. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes adding a little water to stop sticking if necessary.

Meanwhile, season the turkey mince and add the herbs: roll into small balls (wet hands help) you should be left with about 12-15 meatballs. Fry these off gently for a few minutes until golden all over then add to the tomato sauce- allow to braise in the simmering sauce for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, crumble in the feta and stir.

Serve with cous cous, rice or a salad.

veggie lasagne 021

Warming Spring Lasagne

As I write it is 9.55am on Saturday May 2nd and it is a balmy 6 degrees outside. 6 degrees. These cold mornings are playing havoc with my springtime fitness regime of running every morning. (I’ve managed twice this week). There are a number of reasons why I’m not ready to fully embrace Spring themed food:

1. I don’t really know what’s in season as I don’t live in rural Italy and depend on Ocado for vegetables. (I wished I lived in rural Italy but would really miss daily school runs dodging six lanes of commuter traffic under the M4 flyover)
2. I don’t think I have sufficient culinary knowledge to do so
3. It’s just too cold right now

Vegetable lasagne- an inferior version of the real thing- or is it? My kids love it as much as the meaty kind and it’s the best way of getting an enormous quantity of green matter into the fussy eaters.
I also love it- sure there’s a fair bit of chopping involved, but we ate it on Thursday for tea, Friday for the two year-old’s lunch and the kid’s tea on Friday evening. And we all had second helpings.

veggie lasagne 017

This dish is also a great way of clearing the sad, limp vegetables in the fridge. Mushrooms, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, aubergines, onions, carrots, celery- you name it. That half-eaten tin of sweetcorn that always gets binned? Chuck it in the mix. Wilting spinach? It will add iron. Got kids who love peas? Throw them in- still frozen. Even a tin of beans.

There are schools of thought around bothering with a proper bechamel sauce in lasagne. Jamie Oliver recommends substituting a tub of creme fraiche and grating some cheese into it. Me, I like a proper bechamel– the end result is far yummier and I timed myself the other day- it took 6 minutes to make.

Here’s a basic recipe- you can freestyle depending on whatever’s in the fridge, but I would stick with the onions, carrots and celery bit as this gives the whole dish its flavour.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
2 courgettes
1 pepper
1 aubergine
2 tins tomatoes or 1 tin and 1 carton passata
Salt and pepper

Packet lasagne sheets

50g butter
1 tbsp flour
300 ml milk (add more if sauce too thick)
100g cheese, grated (anything in the fridge- cheddar, parmesan, pecorino etc) obvs you can never use too much cheese….

Or a large tub of creme fraiche

Chop the vegetables into fairly small dice. Heat the oil in a large casserole or pan and add the onions, carrots and celery. Sweat over a low heat until soft and add everything else. (I add stuff as I’m finished chopping them). Cook for a further 10-15 minutes and add the tinned tomatoes and passata. Season well and simmer until sauce has thickened and vegetables are soft. You can add a little stock (or water) at this stage if you think the sauce too thick. I sometimes squish the sauce with a potato masher lest my offspring take umbrage at the sight of a chunky pepper- but don’t liquidise- it’s not very nice.

Heat the oven to 170C and grease a lasagne tray.

bechamel sauce

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour. Cook on a low heat, stirring for a minute until it starts to resemble scrambled egg. (if it goes brown and biscuity you’ve gone too far). Add the milk and whisk until you see bubbles and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and add cheese.

If you are using the creme fraiche- just mix with the cheese and hey presto- you have a cheese sauce.


Using a large spoon or ladle, pour a few spoonfuls of bechamel (about a quarter of your sauce) over the bottom of the lasagne dish. Layer the pasta sheets (don’t overlap) making sure there are no gaps. Follow with a layer of the vegetable mixture and repeat two or three times ending with a layer of pasta, covered in bechamel and finished with oodles of grated cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and golden.


One Pot Wonders: Sizzling Sausage Casserole

Tomorrow night’s (and probably the next night’s) dinner prepped in 15…

Last night the cupboards were bare. So was the fridge. The shopping wasn’t being delivered until tonight and I knew I’d not get to a shop today. I found some sausages in the freezer, 2 carrots, an onion and a pepper in the fridge- and that’s kind of all you need. Any veg will do, as will a can of beans (any kind) a bit of orzo, or any small pasta, or barley, or lentils and a couple of cans of tomatoes. I made it in 15 mins this morning, set the timer and left it in the oven for a few hours. Based on the Mumsnet Cookbook “Top Bananas”.

For 4 (two night’s dinners)

12 sausages
pack of little smoked sausages for flavour (beware- these are habit-forming- I use Halal smoked chicken sausages)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper (or anything else you find in the fridge), chopped
A handful of dried lentils
2 x cans tomatoes
Bulking agent- beans, orzo, barley etc or a combination
Salt, Pepper and worcestershire sauce
1.5 pints stock (whatever you have)

Throw THE LOT into a large casserole with a lid and bring to the boil. Put it in the oven at 140 degrees for 3-4 hours.

Feel chuffed there is nothing to do but perhaps a little reheat at teatime.

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.