“Ravioli” with Cavolo Nero & Goat’s Cheese

This recipe caught my eye because it simply looked good in a recent edition of my delicious magazine. It also falls into a category — vaguely healthy-sounding pasta dish — that usually appeals to me. This one was unusual because it uses fresh lasagne sheets as the pasta — the “ravioli” aren’t really ravioli.

The sauce is made in a food processor with a combination of cavolo nero (boiled for a minute to make it soft, then water squeezed out), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. The accompanying paste is soft goat’s cheese, walnuts (I used toasted almonds), sage, lemon juice, and oil, again made in a food processor. To assemble, you cook the lasagne sheets, and then “layer” the three components, beginning with sauce, then noodles, then goat’s cheese paste. Repeat. Top with Parmesan or Pecorino.

This unfortunately did not pack enough of a punch taste-waste for me. The sauce was a bit bland and watery. The recipe says to squeeze out as much water from the cavolo nero as possible, which I did, but I still found it lacking. I also found the noodles too thick. It was an experimental meal I guess — not a bad one, but one I won’t be making again.

lasagne ravioli

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Gnocchi with Mushroom & Kale Cream Sauce

Welcome 2017
Happy new year readers! I’m starting 2017 off not with a ‘new year new you’ green smoothie or broth, but with some comfort food. It hasn’t exactly been an easy slide into 2017 for me, although I knew it wouldn’t be. My 2016 ended with a whirlwind of change: I got a full-time job! After 4 years as a student/very low-paid adjunct lecturer, I am very pleased about this development. However…the job involves me spending my weeks in the north of England and my weekends in London, which will radically change the way I live plan and cook meals. I start next week, and am currently in a stressful fog of marking, flat-hunting, and preparing for this new job. As ever, being in the kitchen remains a form of solace.

Obviously, the blog is about to undergo a bit of a change of focus, and probably less frequent posting in the short term. I will be cooking in a totally new way and the blog will reflect that. Hopefully you will still want to continue reading. 😉

The dish
Incidentally, I had never bought gnocchi until a couple of months ago (though have made it before). I picked up a couple of packages, thinking it would be a good to throw together on evenings when I didn’t have anything planned.

I can’t find the exact recipe I used online, but this one is similar. Although it has the taste of a dish that took much longer, this can easily be made in under half an hour. The sauce is made from sauteed mushrooms, cream (~150ml), stock (~150ml), thyme, sage, and salt and pepper. The original recipe called for spinach, but I used kale instead as I prefer a sturdier leaf in this type of dish. I also modified the cheese – the recipe called originally for 75g of Gorgonzola, but I used Stilton, and much less of it, and then topped with Parmesan.

Somehow this dish manages to be comforting but not too cloying or heavy, despite the cream. It’s a great one to throw together quickly — tasty, easy, satisfying.

gnocchi

 

“Green Goddess” Mac & Cheese

The term green goddess seems to be everywhere these days. I’m not particularly fond of it, since it seems to be one of those terms that can be appropriated for everything from smoothies to face masks, but I’ve left it in the title because it sounds better than ‘healthier mac and cheese’ or ‘mac and cheese with kale, basil, and spinach.’

I’ll get straight to it: this was a real winner for us. I added in curly kale in addition to the basil and spinach. It’s fairly easy to make — pureeing the greens just takes a bit of extra time. There’s still lots of cheese, but you do feel a bit better eating this knowing that there is some healthy bits! It was absolutely delicious and will become a part of my regular rotation of meals.

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Chicken, Leek, & Kale Pie with Cheddar Crumble

Ever since we have been back in London I have been on a bit of leek craze. Leeks have been plentiful at the farmers’ market and I have been picking up a few every week (so expect a few leek-related posts to come).

One of the midweek meals I made was this “pie” from Diana Henry, a self-described “cook who loves words.” The concept of a savoury crumble intrigued me and the combination of ingredients sounded like it would work.

Well, it did! This was straightforward to make (although not terribly quick if you’re starting without leftover chicken), satisfying on a winter evening, and very moreish. The recipe doesn’t specify what cut of chicken to use; I only had breast and I found that it worked absolutely fine as there is a lot of moisture with the sauce (if you’re using breasts from scratch make sure to not overcook them — my preferred method is poaching in stock). Boneless thighs would probably be ideal though.

I added in the kale as I had some lying around. I also found there was a bit too much of the topping, but that’s personal preference.

I really liked this dish — it just screams “snowy rainy winter night.” H. loved it too but we differed on whether it was better than Rachel Allen’s chicken and leek pie that I made back in October. I preferred Rachel’s whereas H. preferred this one. 🙂

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Kale, Sweet Potato, & Goat Cheese Salad

This is the ideal salad for January: kale and sweet potatoes are both in season, and it’s bulky enough to feel like a real meal that fills you up, while still being relatively light. This is my own recipe, and in this version I added in leftover roast chicken as it had to be used up.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Cut up and roast sweet potatoes. Note: to get sweet potatoes crispy in the oven, I used the cornstarch (aka “cornflour” in the UK) method outlined here.
  2. Meanwhile, assemble the other parts of the salad: rinse and chop the kale, and add the cheese. For this salad, I used cavolo nero (black kale), but other types would work too.
  3. Make the dressing: I made a basic vinaigrette using fig balsamic vinegar (yum!), but you could adapt this to what you’d prefer. See some ideas from Martha here. Or, since kale is a sturdy leaf, it can stand up to a much heavier, creamier dressing (one with tahini is coming to mind).
  4. Let the sweet potatoes cool for a few minutes, if you can, and then add them to the salad along with the dressing. If you’re patient enough/have the time, let it sit for a few minutes so that everything soaks in. Otherwise, eat and enjoy.

kale salad

Crostini (Garden) Party — my 300th post!

Hello again. 🙂 H. and I have been in Canada for nearly 3 weeks now (hard to believe!) and are having the best time. We spent 8 days in Newfoundland (a few pics to come) and since then have been relaxing in our summer paradise, Sandy Cove! 🙂

I have been cooking quite a bit and have several posts saved to drafts, but not posted anything because I’m trying to limit computer time here. I’m also trying to be a bit more laissez faire about my posts, i.e. not “force” anything and let them come more naturally.

So, without further ado, inspired by this link, I made crostini for a weekly garden party here in Sandy Cove.

I tried to cater for as many dietary requirements as I could, but of course they are not gluten free: tomato-y bruschetta; tomatoes and pesto; blue cheese and prosciutto; a couple of just pesto; goat cheese and pesto; kale and prosciutto; and goat cheese and zucchini.

This was really fun — easy to prepare and would be great as a make-your-own as well. There are lots of ideas at the link above or of course you can get creative and make your own! (Notes: I’d recommend lightly toasting the bread, and making them as close to eating time as possible).

crostini party

Spicy Kale & Brown Rice Stirfry

The name of this post has to be one of the least appetizing-sounding meals I’ve ever written about. It’s certainly not something I’d ever order at a restaurant! Fortunately its taste greatly surpasses the description. It is healthy and delicious and a bonus if like me you love brown rice.

I found the recipe on a great whole foods-focused blog that I’ve been reading for some time. I made a few changes in my version. While I love coconut milk I am not a big fan of coconut in other forms. I therefore only included about a tablespoon of toasted flakes (!). I think H. maybe would have preferred a few more. The kale also got a bit lost in mine (by the time it wilts down) — I used what I thought looked like a large bunch but probably could have done with a bit more.

This meal won full stamp of approval from both of us and is definitely a low-cook (not no-cook unfortunately) option for hot summer weather — though I will have to live vicariously through readers as the weather here in London is very temperamental and un-summer-like at the moment!

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Disclaimer: this picture shows full evidence of my addiction to coriander. 😉

Vegan Baileys’ Green Smoothie

One of my friends from high school (and we also happen to share a name), Kate, is the author of the blog Vegan Baileys. It’s one of the most engaging and honest reads I’ve seen in a long time and I highly encourage you to check it out.

I’ve become addicted to one of the many recipes Kate’s posted: green smoothie with tahini and ginger. As loyal readers will know I am a big fan of the spinach smoothie, and her recipe takes it to a new level. I’ve been making mine with spinach (Kate uses kale), and it’s creamy and delicious. The tahini and ginger combination might sound odd but I promise you it is worth trying, especially now that summer is on its way!

green smoothie