Walnut pesto

Both of us are not keen on pesto that comes in a jar as it tends to be too oily (although both our kids love it!) and we have finally hit upon a homemade version which hopefully is worthy of getting an Italian’s seal of approval.  We didn’t have any pine nuts or grated Parmesan cheese but we think walnuts and Pecorino Romano works just as well.   The addition of walnut oil accentuates the taste of the walnuts in the pesto.  We had it for lunch today with some penne and tricolore salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 small bunches of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful walnuts toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

A small bowl full – 6-8 heaped tablespoons

How do I make it?

Place the basil, garlic and walnut in a mixer or pestle and mortar and blend to a coarse paste.   Add the oils, cheese and adjust the seasoning.  Use it with your favourite pasta or as a spread on some grilled ciabata.

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Italian flavoured casserole

Off all the casseroles we have pulled together over the last month, this has to be our favourite only to be matched by the Creole/Mexican flavoured dish we made earlier.  The weather continues to go from bad to worse and this Saturday was no exception – non stop rain from dawn to dusk coupled with a definite bite in the air.  We decided to make a hot comforting casserole for dinner and as promised earlier we were going to experiment with Italian flavours in our next casserole, so here’s the recipe for it.  Our next challenge given to us by one of Anna’s friends is to develop an Indian themed casserole – stay tuned…

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • 1 medium leek sliced
  • 1 courgette cubed
  • Handful of green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 5-6 baby potatoes halved
  • 6-8 button mushrooms quartereded
  • 8 cloves of garlic – 3 chopped for marinade
  • 400 gm tin of cannelini beans drained
  • 400 gm tin of barlotti beans drained
  • 400 gm tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Few sprigs of fresh basil and parsley chopped to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon of crushed red chilli flakes, 3 chopped garlic cloves, chopped shallot and salt – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add remaining olive oil, garlic and rosemary to the same dish and stir for 30 seconds before adding sliced onions and  leeks – stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle 1 tsp Italian seasoning, l tsp crushed red chilli flakes and the stock cubes – add about 500 ml of water and stir.  Stir in the cannelini beans, borlotti beans and chopped tomatoes.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with chopped fresh basil and parsley.

 

Gluten free penne with lamb meatballs

We tried making meatballs for the first time without the obligatory bread crumbs since going on our gluten free journey.  It turned out pretty good as we substituted the breadcrumbs with chestnut flour to act as the binding agent.   The meatballs maintained shape through the cooking process and tasted great.

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What do I need to make it?

Meatballs

  • 200 gms lean minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp crush red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp chestnut flour
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce

  • 400 gm tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 small green chillies chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2-3

How do I make it?

Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and knead together.   Roll the meat mixture into small balls (should get around 20) and refrigerate for an hour.   Heat a pan with some olive oil and brown the meatballs off before placing them in a 200 degree Centigrade pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or till the meat is done.

For the sauce, heat a pan, add the olive oil followed by the garlic and bay leaves.   Stir for 30 seconds before adding the onions and green chilli.   Sweat the onions for 5-8 minutes before adding the dry and fresh oregano.   Pour in the plum tomatoes (if whole crush or chop them first) with a cup of water and simmer over gentle heat for 20 minutes.   Add the sugar and adjust the seasoning.   Once the tomatoes have cooked through, add the meatballs and garnish the dish with fresh basil and parsley.   Pour over your favourite pasta and enjoy.