This recipe is fantastic because it’s very balanced – it has protein, veg and carbs – and best of all, it’s absolutely delicious and freezes extremely well.
Chicken with Rataouille and Risoni
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 2.5cm pieces
- 2 large zucchinis, thickly sliced
- 1 red capsicum, halved, thickly sliced
- A good drizzle of olive oil
- 8 large chicken drumsticks
- 2 cups Italian tomato pasta sauce (or you could make my marinara sauce, click here for the recipe)
- 1/3 cup dried risoni pasta
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 240°C. Place eggplant, zucchini and capsicum in a large roasting pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and some salt and pepper and use your hands to toss the vegies and ensure all the vegies are lightly coated. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add a little olive oil and cook the drumsticks in batches, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until light golden (you could use thigh fillets as well, if you like). Return all chicken to saucepan. Add pasta sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in risoni. Cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Do keep an eye on it to make sure the risoni doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Stir in roast vegetables and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve or transfer to containers for freezing.
This recipe is so easy and simple, but the roasting of the vegetables really adds a lovely depth of flavour. I know some people would like to use breast chicken for this. However, I really urge you not to, I think it would really take away from the flavour.
I’ve been making meatballs for years now – but have never been completely happy with the results – until now.
I have tried lots of different recipes – but it was advice from my beautiful Italian friend Laura which was the clincher.
She told me her secret to awesome meatballs is to use half beef and half pork mince (which is what I quite often do when making bolognese) and she doesn’t brown her meatballs, she simply pops them in the sauce and lets them cook gently.
Laura is an awesome cook and so I was really looking forward to trying to make truly Italian meatballs.
The verdict? Well, they were delicious! Tender, soft, but stayed in tact – just beautiful – if I do say so myself. We even had our niece and nephew over for dinner (and their wonderful parents, of course) … and they were both pretty keen on them too. Go me!The meatballs
- 500gm of lean pork mince
- 500gm of lean beef mince
- 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped (you can use a food processor, if that makes it easier)
- 1 cup of bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 800gm can of tomatoes
- 1 tbs of basil pesto
- 1 tbs of sugar
- salt and pepper
Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and using clean hands, mix everything really well until it’s combined. You can use a spoon, if you want, but your hands really do the best and quickest job of this process.
Combine the ground beef and ground pork in a large bowl. Add the dry bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Combine the ingredients with your hands until everything is mixed through.
Form meatballs about the size of a golf ball in your hands. Transfer these prepared meatballs to a plate and set aside.
Meanwhile, get a large, heavy based pan over a high heat on the stove to heat up. Blitz the tomatoes in your food processor and add them to the pan – add the remaining ingredients and bring the sauce to the boil. This sauce doesn’t need to be complicated because the meatballs will impart their flavour into the sauce.
Once the sauce is hot, gently place the meatballs into the sauce. Give the pan a gently shake so that the sauce covers the meatballs as much as possible.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the flame to low. Cover and cook for half an hours. Check, stir and then simmer for another 15 minutes with the lid off.
During the last 15 minutes, boil some water in a large pot and add your choice of pasta. I had half a packet of fettuccine and half of spaghetti – so I poured both in. Waste not, want not!
I admit – I’m nervous about cooking for kids. Being childless, I’ve never really had to do it. But, I was pretty chuffed that they ate. Well, our nephew was pretty keen just to play with the placemat. He’s such a funny little guy.
Ok, I’ll stop gushing over the cuteness of Charli and Kobe and move on to the groovy tune for this meal. I think this was a great dish to whip up for kids – so I’m going with a song by the same name, by MGMT.
Food that is full of flavour, but quick and kind on the budget – that’s exactly the thing I love to eat mid-week and this pasta dish is perfect.
First, lets talk flavour – olives, pancetta (or bacon is a fine alternative) are an awesome combo accompanied by tomatoes and some nice fresh basil. No basil in the house? Parsley is fine too, or even some baby spinach leaves.
The best thing about this is it’s something everyone can whip together as long as you have some form of pasta in the cupboard, tomatoes (canned or fresh), some form of bacony meat (pancetta, bacon, even some ham or salami would work really well) and some fresh herbs or other greenery. Even the olives are optional – although I think they are the highlight of this dish. I used huge green pitted olives which I sliced – but you could use kalamata olives, or even black ones – whatever is handy.
As for price and time – I think you can see it’s not something that’s going to take ages to cook – including prep, absolutely no more than 20 minutes. There’s very few ingredients and flexibility to use up what you have in the fridge – so in the cost stakes, it’s very economical too.
Ok, enough convincing – more recipe writing!
Super-quick pasta with pancetta, olives and basil
250gm of dried pasta (I used spirals, but anything goes)
1/2 a cup of cubed pancetta (or three middle bacon rashers sliced, or even the same amount of salami would work well too)
3 spring onion stalks, chopped (or a small onion, peeled and chopped)
200gm of green olives, pitted and sliced (these are optional or you can use whatever olives you have around)
1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes (or the equivalent of fresh)
1/4 cup of white wine (only if you have it)
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn (or parsley or spinach leaves would work well too)
Freshly ground pepper
Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil – and add two teaspoons of salt. Bring to the boil and add your pasta. Cook as per packet directions.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large fry pan, add the pancetta (or whatever meat product you choose) and cook for two minutes until browning. Add the spring onion (or onion) along with the tomatoes and wine (if using) and bring up to a brisk simmer. Season with pepper and allow to cook.
Drain your pasta and add it top the sauce, along with the olives and fresh herbs. Stir through and allow to simmer for a minute or two to allow the sauce to stick to the pasta. If it looks a little dry, add some water until you are happy with the consistency.
Serve immediately with some garlic bread and a salad, if you can be bothered making one.
Can I freeze it?: Sure can – in an air-tight container for up to three months. Thaw before re-heating for best results. You may need to add some water while re-heating, as freezing can make the sauce go dry.
My family have always been a great lover of garlic prawns – my mum always used to cook them in a garlicy, buttery cream sauce.
I have made them this way for years and I still love them like this to this day.
However, I have also tried lots of others too – and due to my love for chilli – this version is one of my favourites:
Garlic and chilli prawns
1 1/2 tbs olive oil
4 clove garlic, crushed
2 red chillis, de-seeded and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
24 individual raw/green prawns (use the largest variety you can find) – remove shells
100ml of chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
6 tbs of ricotta cheese
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chillies and a pinch or two of salt and cook, stirring for 1 minute, but don’t let the garlic burn.
Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute each side, or until golden. Remove garlic, chilli and prawns from pan and set aside.
Place pan back over medium-high heat and add tomatoes, stock and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until sauce has reduced. Add prawns back to pan and toss well to coat.
To serve, spinkle with the ricotta cheese.
You can serve this alone, for a starter, or make it more substancial by adding your favourite pasta in at the end.
Stay tuned for the final recipe in The Inspiration Challenge – Tagine Chicken!
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