Asparagus, Pea and Herb Risotto

Risotto is a really adaptable dish that you can make with whatever you have to hand.   In my case this meant asparagus, a few frozen peas  and left over chicken from this weeks roast.  What really makes a risotto though is the stock you use to flavour the rice and the herbs at the end to bring out the flavours.  You can, of course, use butter and parmesan at the end to add richness, but I chose not to wanting this risotto to be clean tasting and for the parsley and tarragon that I added at the end to shine and enhance the asparagus.  In fact this whole dish is layered through with herbs and that is what I wanted to highlight.  I like the texture of my risotto to be soup-y but if you prefer a more solid texture then just add less liquid. Continue reading

Torn Vegetable Lasagne

I seem to have a real problem with dried lasagne sheets.  It has proved to be absolutely infuriating.   I seem to manage to break them.  I am not sure if its in the packing into bags after shopping or because I have rather a rammed full larder cupboard but when I open the packet more often that not there are quite a few broken sheets.    I could get round this by making or buying fresh pasta but, if I am honest, I cant always be bothered or remember to do so.   And I love lasagne.   Its a brilliant comfort food.  So in the spirit of the saying “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, this recipe was born – and whether or not you have broken or whole lasagne sheets, it very tasty if I say so myself.

The trouble with traditional lasagne is that it is fiddly to make.   Lots of layers to assemble and a sauce to make to go on top.   Delicious but time consuming and often too carb heavy for a supper.    The great thing about this “torn lasagne” is it is really simple to do and its easy to make sure that the veggies are more plentiful than the pasta if that’s the way you like things!!  Its also quicker to make and any leftovers are great the next day as a packed lunch.

It uses pesto rather than the traditional creamy béchamel to keep things light and fresh though somehow it tastes just as comforting as traditional lasagne.  If you use the vegan cheese and pesto (shop bought is fine here though, of course don’t let me stop you from making your own ) then you can easily, and very “taste-illy”, make this recipe suitable for a plant based diet without going to any extra effort.   As I have said before, the best parts of a lasagne are where the pasta edges go crispy.   With Torn Lasagne there are a lot more edges to go crispy!! Yum Continue reading

Rhubarb and Ginger Queen of Puddings

It’s hard to think of a better pudding to have for Sunday Lunch.  Unashamedly old fashioned, Queen of Puddings here is given a seasonal twist by using fresh rhubarb and syrupy stem ginger instead of jam   There is something intensively satisfying about soft, creamy custard thickened with crumbs topped with rhubarb and ginger and finished off with toasty meringue  It has some of the best elements of favourite puddings – creme brûlée, iles flotantes, lemon meringue pie and rhubarb and custard  it’s a real winner

There seems to be various stories around how this pudding got its name. Perhaps it was because Queen Victoria remarked on it on a trip to Manchester (it was previously called Manchester pudding apparently). Maybe it’s because the meringue looked like a crown when piped on top. Nobody seems to know for sure so you can choose! Continue reading

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne

Italians will tell you that the best bit of a lasagne is the crispy edges. The bits of the pasta sheets you let overhang the sides and that go all brown and crunchy as the lasagne cooks.  Italian families fight about who gets them! For years I’d been dutifully tucking them all in – as I suspect most of us non-Italians do – until, by chance, I had lunch with some Italians.  I was converted, they were amazed that I didn’t know about it, and now I am sharing it with you.


Lasagne with pasta sheets overhanging sides prior to going in oven.


Crispy edges after baking

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Cheese and Leek Quiche with Roasted Butternut Squash

I know that quiches have a bad rep.  Whilst we might have moved away from the “real men don’t eat quiche” cliche the fact that so many quiches seem to have doughy pastry and a rather eggy filling puts people off eating and making them.

The recipe for this quiche will change your mind.  The pastry is crisp and cheesy, and the filling has a creamy, cheesy and smooth bechamel sauce that is worlds apart from the eggy custard that is often used.  I love using a layer of sautéed leeks in the base and then adding another layer of flavour (such as the roasted squash) before pouring on the sauce and scattering over the cheese and baking. In this version I’ve gone vegetarian but you can use leftover slices of roast chicken or gammon instead of the squash if you want to use up leftovers.  Maybe you could try other roast vegetables such as courgettes, peppers etc.  Throw in some spinach or leftover broccoli. Variations are endless but always end up delicious.  The cooked quiche itself is great eaten warm (particularly with chips/wedges but that may just be me) and salad or have it for a picnic/packed lunch. Continue reading

Monday Pie

I know Mondays are often “meatless” and are part of eating more mindfully but to my mind, and on a par, is not wasting food and in particular not throwing out any leftover meat. Monday Pie was the dish my family used to call this when we used up the Sunday roast lamb  Maybe, given the popularity of Meatless Monday it’s name should be updated to Tuesday Pie!

So essentially this Pie is a shepherds pie although, rather than starting with raw mince, it uses the leftovers from Sunday’s joint.  I like to foil wrap a bulb of garlic and roast it alongside the joint just for this recipe as it adds a depth to the dish but if you forget you can use garlic purée instead.  Mix these with mushrooms, thyme and other veg – include the secret addition of tomato ketchup – and then top off the pie with a mix of mashed potato and cauliflower. You could, of course, just use the potato, but I think the cauliflower not only sneaks in another of your five a day (or whatever the latest figure is) but it makes the finished dish lighter too

It doesn’t seem very exciting to write recipes using leftovers – and to be honest I didn’t think it would be something I’d do on this blog –  but its a recipe that I love and use and that I thought others would be interested in. So I am going to start to include ones for leftovers.  I hope you enjoy them as some of the recipes would be those I’d cook a roast for just to make the leftover dish!  Now that’s an interesting concept….. Continue reading