Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

Minestrone (The Big Soup)

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve held off making this soup for an age. Mainly because the traditional Irish vegetable soup ticks all the boxes and that’s what I’d normally go with. Today I fancied something different, so here it is.


  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp of sea salt crystals
  • a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 red onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • ¼ red pepper
  • ¼ orange pepper
  • ¼ yellow pepper
  • 2 closed cup mushrooms
  • 50g soup broth
  • 25g red lentils
  • 100g pasta (any type)
  • ½ tsp pimento powder
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of mushroom ketchup (optional)
  • 1 tsp of vegetable stock powder
  • 1 can/carton of chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 litres of boiling water


Place a large saucepan (at least 3l capacity) over a medium heat and add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Chop the onions roughly, crush the garlic and add to the pan. Dice the carrots, celery, peppers and mushrooms and add to the pan once the onion has softened. Next, add the soup broth, lentils and pasta followed by the spices, balsamic (mushroom ketchup, if using) and vegetable stock. Stir well and add the tomatoes.

Once the tomatoes start to bubble, add the water 500ml at a time allowing to come to a simmer between adding each batch. Cover and allow to boil for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to simmer for a further hour and a half or until the soup thickens and the soup broth pulses soften. Add small amounts of water during cooking, if needed.

Categories: Soup Tags: , , , , ,

Courgette and Mushroom Pasta Bake

September 6, 2007 Leave a comment

This recipe consists of some roasted courgettes, pan fried mushrooms and penne pasta covered with an arrabbiata sauce and baked in the oven.


  • 2 courgettes
  • 6-8 mushrooms
  • 25g Comté or Parmesan
  • 150g penne pasta
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 vine tomatoes (a can of chopped tomatoes will suffice)
  • 1/4 tsp pimento powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • A pinch of cayenne


Top and tail the courgettes, cut lengthwise into quarters and then half the quarters. Put in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, then coat with olive oil (2-3 tbsp). Place with their skin side down on a preheated baking tray and roast in the oven at 225c for 20 mins or until the edges are browned.

Place the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water for 3-4 mins until their skin splits to ease peeling. Rinse and drain in cold water to cool them and set aside.

Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic, then fry for 4-5 mins at medium-high heat in 3-4 tbsp of olive oil. Peel the skin from the tomatoes and chop roughly. Add to the pan and stir in the pimento, basil, oregano and cayenne. Let the sauce reduce for about 15-20 mins adding small amounts of water as needed.

Put the penne in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for ~5mins until it just starts to soften and drain. While the pasta is cooking, chop the mushrooms into quarters lengthwise and place in a lightly oiled (1 tsp of olive oil) frying pan over a high heat and fry them tossing regularly until they start to sweat and brown nicely.

In a pre-heated oven dish layer the pasta first, sprinkle with the cheese, then add the courgettes followed by the mushrooms and pour the sauce over the top. Place the dish in the oven and bake gently for 40 mins at 150c.

Serves 2-3 portions and goes lovely with garlic bread.

Categories: Pasta Tags: , , ,

Spaghetti Bolognese

June 24, 2007 Leave a comment

Apparently, it’s britain’s favourite meal to cook at home. It’s definitely one of my favs when I want something that’s filling, tasty and, most importantly, quick to knock up.


  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (or 4 large vine tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil (or a handful of fresh basil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked pimento powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or deseeded chilli (optional)
  • 150g of spaghetti per person


Chop the onion and crush the garlic while heating 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil in your trusty ~20cm wok/stirfry pan over a high heat. The amount of oil is important; it may seem a lot but we need it so we get a rich and luxuriant sauce at the end. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and turn the heat down a notch. Peel and chop the carrot and celery into similar sized pieces (up to you how large they are – smaller will cook quicker). Add the carrot and celery to the pan and stir through. After a minute or two add the pimento (and cayenne/chilli, if desired).

Now deseed and chop your peppers to similar size as the carrot and celery. Add to the pan and stir, also add the oregano and basil now too. Boil up a kettle for a pint of vegetable stock while the herbs do their thing (and chop your tomatoes, if not using tinned). Once the herbs have been in for 3-4 minutes you can go ahead and add the tomatoes.

For the stock, the method depends on what tomatoes were used. If using canned tomatoes we won’t need as much liquid so just make a half pint of stock (still use the whole cube) and for fresh tomatoes make up a whole pint. Add the tomato purée to the stock and then pour the lot into the pan reducing the heat once it’s all bubbling away happily. It should take about 15-20 mins to reduce down and sauce up nicely giving you a sumptuous spagbol that’ll serve 3-4 people.

To get your spaghetti just so; you’ll need a decent sized pan and plenty of boiling water with a tablespoon of olive oil and couple of pinches of salt to add flavour. Add your spaghetti and spend a minute or so getting it softened and into the water without being stuck together, then let cook for 8-10 mins without interfering with it too much. Drain and serve immediately. Grate some parmesan over the spaghetti before serving the bolognese.

Categories: Pasta Tags: , , ,