Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cheese and Tuna Veggie Bombs!

Cheese & Tuna Veggie bombs

One for the littlies in your life today. After the popularity of my Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes, my kids are  equally as crazy about these little shallow-fried patties (AKA bombs!) of Leftover Mashed Potato and Veggies, Tuna and Cheese. It’s a flavour combination that works for most little people and happens to be a fine way of sneaking into their tummies a multitude of Hidden Veggies. If your little people are particularly veggie adverse then I advise chopping the veggies very finely, but because the overall flavour is such a pleasing one I doubt they’ll even notice the sneaky good stuff.

Whenever I make any dinners involving mash and veggies, which happens to be pretty often in our house,  I always cook a little extra so I can make these tasty little bombs the next day. It’s then a matter of simply mixing the cold mash with any cooked veggies, a little cheddar and a can of tuna. Shaping into patties and coating in breadcrumbs, polenta or panko (or a mixture of any of these) and shallow frying in a little sunflower oil. They can then be served with yet more veggies or baked beans. And there you have it, a generally pretty wholesome dinner easily made in minutes.

Cheese, Tuna & Veggie Cakes

And they taste really really good. I really should admit I do make the odd extra for us big people too!

I’m entering my frugal dinner time treat to a couple of challenges. Firstly to the first ever Credit Crunch Munch, a new event co-hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All.

Credit-Crunch-Munch

And secondly for my first ever time to the No Waste Food Challenge held by Kate from Turquoise Lemons, and this month hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen. The theme this month handily happens to be Mashed Potatoes!.

No Waste Food Challenge

Cheese & Tuna Cakes

And so on to this cinch of a recipe:

Cheese & Tuna Veggie Bombs

Perfect for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, The Veggie Adverse. And the leftover ‘leftovers’ can be frozen for a later, even quicker, dinner.

Makes 8 to 10 small patties:

300g of cold Mashed Potato

200g of cold cooked Veggies (if you don’t have enough leftover veggies then you can always top up with defrosted frozen peas or sweetcorn), finely diced

185g tin of Tuna, drained

75g of Cheddar Cheese or similar, grated

3 heaped tablespoons of dry Breadcrumbs, Polenta or Panko (or a mix of any of these)

Sunflower Oil

Simply combine all the ingredients bar the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Shape into even patties. Place the breadcrumbs/polenta/panko in a flat bottomed bowl.

Now coat the patties in a fine layer of the crumbs and set aside on a plate until you’re ready to fry.

Take a frying pan and pour in enough sunflower oil to make a very fine layer on the bottom. Heat on a low to medium heat. When the oil is hot carefully place your bombs in the oil. You’ll probably have to fry them in a couple of batches.

Fry on both sides until golden brown all over. Drain on kitchen roll and serve.

You might also like:

Chicken Goujons:                                        Kids Fish Pie:

Kids Fish Pie in Oogaa bowls

Chicken Goujons

 

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Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

We do eat quite a few pizzas at Chez Foti, probably too many. Well about once a week if the truth be known. But in my defense they are always homemade. And I’m not being a ponsey foodie by saying that. Believe me I’ve absolutely nothing against good quality take away pizza, but we do live in distinctly rural SW France and without wanting to be too rude, the quality of the take away pizzas in these parts is considerably below par. Bordering inedible. Which is a shame as the only two fast food joints in a 25 km radius both happen to be pizza take aways!. And once or twice bitten I won’t be going back. Just don’t get me started on the supermarket offerings either. Think 80s Britain, say no more. Hence I’ve become a bit of geek at homemade pizza ….. and homemade Thai/Chinese/Indian to boot!. And we do happen to have an original bread oven in our lounge that bakes the most perfect pizzas.

I love playing around with inventing toppings and this recipe so happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. Think Puttanesca Sauce but on a pizza. Puttanesca, in case you didn’t know, is a tomato based sauce revved up with oodles of garlic, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives. And it’s sublime on a pizza with the addition of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan. Pizza simplicity at it’s best.

Pizza Puttanesca

Made with Love Mondays

I’m also delighted to be entering, for the first ever time, my Pizza Puttanesca to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, a weekly series promoting, sharing and celebrating foods made entirely from scratch. Foods without any of the nasties and all the good stuff!.

Pizza Puttanesca

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I usually stick to this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

a Red Chili (or go wild with 2 if you like your heat), finely sliced

4 Anchovy Fillets in oil

a 400g can of good quality Chopped Tomatoes or 450g of ripe and flavoursome Fresh Tomatoes (I’m still using up my frozen stock from The Great Chez Foti Tomato Harvest!)

a very large pinch of Black Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

a dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

40g of stoned Black Olives, halved

80g of Mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a few moments  until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a very generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

The sauce is ready when it’s considerably thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the puttanesca sauce evenly over the base. Place the halved olives and slices of mozzarella. Scatter over the parmesan or grana padano.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

Pizza Puttanesca

You might also like: 

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza            Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Jacques mushroom picking

 


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

It’s really REALLY cold here. Bitter. Wet. Icy. Windy. Needless to say I’m avoiding leaving the snugly fires of our house as much as possible, even to go shopping. And being the frugal month of January I’m attempting a fridge, freezer and cupboard blow out using up a whole host of lurking need-to-be-used ingredients. On a recent inspection I handily discovered a tub of almost-out-date ricotta as well as a ball of just-out-of-date mozzarella, dried cannelloni that I’ve had for too long to mention, frozen spinach that somehow never gets used in our house and frozen chopped tomatoes that are still cramming up the freezer from last summer’s enormous glut, plus some pumpkin (I still have six to munch through!) and a random red pepper. So I set to to make stuffed cannelloni placating any requirement to leave the confines of Chez  Foti and brave the weather.

So a vegged and healthied-up version (I can’t help it!) of a Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni (flavoured with a little Parmesan and Nutmeg) was born, covered with oodles of Tomato Sauce enriched with Celery, Carrot, Pumpkin & Pepper. Then topped with a little Mozzarella and Parmesan and baked in the oven.  And the kids ate it. Even enjoyed it. Admittedly not without a good deal of ‘encouragement’ at first, but that was to do with the off-putting (to them) abundance of green in the cannelloni, which on tasting they did actually like. Job done. Oodles of veggies filling those precious wee tummies. And one happy Mummy. And us grown up folk enjoyed it too!

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

Incidentally this is a great tommie sauce to serve on it’s own with pasta, I’ve been making a version of it (Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce) for years for my monsters and they always love it. It’s also a great way of ‘healthying-up’ a homemade pizza, and they’ll never know!

I’m entering my blog, for the first ever time to the first ever Pasta Please, a monthly blogging event held by Jacqueline of the wonderfully inspirational Vegetarian blog Tinned Tomatoes. This month’s theme happens to be Cheese and since my dish contains a trio of Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan I think I qualify!

pasta please

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Vegetables Tomato Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Perfect for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers

Serves 4 hearty appetites (or a family of 4 with plenty of tasty leftovers):

For the  Hidden Veggie Tommie Sauce:

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

a small Onion, diced

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

a large Carrot*, diced

a stick or two of Celery*, diced

200g of Pumpkin or Squash*, diced

half a Red Pepper*, diced

600g of Chopped Tomatoes (a can and a half)

a heaped dessertspoon of Tomato Puree

130ml of water

a teaspoon of dried Oregano or a dessertspoon of chopped fresh Oregano

Salt & Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

* Please use whatever veggies you happen to have in, though to aid your disguise it’s best to stick to neutral or orange/red coloured ones!

For the Stuffed Cannelloni:

160g of dried Cannelloni

350g of frozen Spinach, defrosted (or finely shredded and steamed fresh spinach)

a 250g tub of Ricotta

40g of Parmesan (or Grana Padano), finely grated

a large pinch of Nutmeg

a large pinch of Black Pepper

a squeeze or two of Lemon juice

For the Topping:

a 125g ball of Mozzarella

30g of Parmesan (or Grana Padano), finely grated

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Start with making your sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and all other veggies bar the tomatoes.

After 10 minutes throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, dried oregano (if using), water and a pinch each of pepper, salt and sugar. No salt for very little littlies! Allow to simmer away for 20 minutes or until all the veggies are very tender.

Once cooked take off the heat and stir in the fresh oregano (if using). Blitz the sauce with a stick blender or in a processor until smooth. Taste and season if necessary.

Meanwhile prep the cannelloni. Mix together the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Season with a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Now for the messy business of filling up the cannelloni tubes!. I found a very good tip on Jamie Oliver’s site of using a plastic bag with a snipped corner to pipe the filling in. It worked wonderfully and was no fiddle at all.

Filling cannelloni

Filling the Cannelloni with the snipped corner of a plastic bag!

Place your filled cannelloni in the bottom of a greased (with a little olive oil) small baking tray or oven dish. The pasta should fit snugly.

Now smother in the Tommie Sauce. Top with the mozzarella slices and the parmesan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the pasta’s cooked through and the cheese golden and bubbling on the top.

Go eat. My kids ate there’s as is, but us grown up folk had a simple green salad on the side.

Here’s some of my other spectacularly well Hidden-Veggie dinners that go down well with the wee folk!:

Kids Bolognese
Super-Seasonally Vegged-Up Cottage Pie
Cheese, Courgette & Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding
Chicken & Apricot Tagine
Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice
Super-Vegged Up Chilli
Kids Fish Pie
Noodles with Pork & Veggies
Cream of Veggie Super Soup
Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes
 
Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Savoury Bread & Butter Puddin

Kids Fish Pie in Oogaa bowls

Kids Fish Pie

Super Vegged Chilli con Carne

Super Vegged-Up Chilli con Carne


Clementine and Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

I know, I know, I know it’s not really the time for cakes in health-conscious diet-ridden January. But it’s REALLY cold here, as it is in the UK. And now that the christmas cake’s finally been gnawed away (it was huge!) I’ve been in need of a little cakey sustenance to ward off the cold. And on the whole this is about as healthy as a cake can be. No butter, no icing, no drizzle, not even any flour. Just cooked (whole!) clementines (or tangerines or satsumas), ground almonds, eggs and sugar. Oh and a little Amaretto to perk things up a little. And it’s a truly wonderful all-rounder of the cakey world, equally delicious as a tea time treat (yes I’m entering it!) with a cuppa, an elevensie with a coffee or even a dinner party pud dolled up with a spoon of mascarpone or creme fraiche.

Originally a Nigella recipe that I’ve slightly adapted over time, but interesting the exact same recipe’s been sighted in a Bill Granger book too. And I mean EXACT. So who’s copying who Nige and Bill?!

As this month’s Tea Time Treat’s theme is the citrus fruit I’m entering Bill’s/Nigella’s recipe to the challenge. TTT’s is jointly hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked

Tea Time Treatrs logo

I’m also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food (this month’s host to the Orange Challenge) and Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

One-Ingredient-Oranges-300x199

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

375g of clementines, tangerines or satsumas (they all work!)

5 large free range eggs

225g of golden caster sugar

250g of ground almonds

a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, sieved

a tablespoon of Amaretto

a little icing sugar for dusting

Special Equipment: a 21cm spring-sided baking tin lined with greaseproof paper

Place the clementines in a saucepan and cover the fruit with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer away for 2 hours. Top up the water level as it drops. After 2 hours remove from the water and allow to cool for a few minutes. Whiz to a pulp in a processor.

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Now on with this cinch of  a cake. Whisk up the eggs in a large bowl, using a balloon whisk. Then whisk in the sugar followed by the ground almonds and baking powder. Finally stir in the clementine pulp.

Pour the cake mixture into your lined cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 40 minutes. It should be golden on top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer will come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a cooling rack.

Once cool carefully remove from the tin and lightly dust with sieved icing sugar. Serve as is or with a naughty spoon of creme fraiche or mascarpone.

Here’s some other Chez Foti cakey treats you might like to try: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins

Clementine & Almond Cake


Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Butternut Risotto

We’ve still lots of lovely butternuts left from my autumn harvest, and thankfully they keep really well in a cool dark place for several months. They’re most definitely one of my very favourite veggies and so usefully versatile getting regularly thrown in many a Soup, Curry, Stir Fry or Stew and even in pasta dishes (think Carbonara or Mac ‘n Cheese). They even shine on a Tart or Pizza too. But a Butternut Risotto happens to be one of my favourite uses of this glorious veggie, and is a firm Chez Foti winter comfort food favourite.

This is actually a recipe I make with the littlies in mind and uses cream cheese, but if you want to make a  more grown up version replace the cream cheese with a goats cheese. I use plenty of fresh sage which I’m particularly partial to with squash or pumpkin and cheese, but if your kids are herb adverse then leave out. If making for very little littlies then omit the wine too and use ‘baby’ stock cubes available from most major chemists or supermarkets.

After watching Nigel Slater’s recent series I now always keep my Butternut Skin shavings and briefly roast them in the oven (which you’d be using anyway for this dish) in a little olive oil, salt & pepper and make some totally delish freebie Butternut Crisps. They’re wonderful served as a little crispy side to soups or risottos.

Cubes of Butternut

Since I’m using fresh sage in my recipe I’m entering my post, for the second time this month, to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanether at Bangers and Mash Chat. Please do go and check out all the entries, there’s sure to be something you fancy!

herbsonsaturday

Butternut squash risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Toddler and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Grown Up Dinners

Enough for a family of 4:

a largish butternut squash, peeled (keep the peelings if you want to make crisps!), seeds removed (these can also be deliciously roasted) and cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a drizzle for the crisps if making

salt & pepper

3 shallots or a small onion, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

20g of butter

220g of risotto rice

a glass of white wine

a litre of chicken or veggie stock, piping hot

a dessertspoon of finely chopped fresh sage

75g of soft cheese or goats cheese

a heaped tablespoon of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Place the butternut cubes on a large baking tray and drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Ensure the cubes are equally coated and place in the hot oven to roast for about 35 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve taken on a little colour and are completely tender and soft.

During this cooking time place the peelings on a separate baking tray and drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crisped up, checking regularly as they’re quick to burn. Once ready remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper until you’re ready to serve.

Now to make the risotto. Heat the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots or onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the butter and oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour on a ladleful of hot stock together with the sage. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is nearly all absorbed.

When the rice is on the edge of being ready and tender stir in the roasted butternut cubes and cream cheese/goats cheese. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes more before finally stirring in the Parmesan or Grana Padano. Taste and season with black pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any additional salt as there’s plenty in the stock and cheese.

Serve the risotto with a few butternut skin crisps on the side. A word of warning, whilst the crisps look pretty served on top of the risotto (as per my pic) they quickly become soggy from the steam!.

Here’s some other Chez Foti risotto recipes: Spinach, Courgette &  Pesto Risotto, Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto


November and December in the Garden

The Patch looking more than a tad sorry for itself!

The Patch looking more than a tad sorry for itself!

With all the frivolities of Christmas I somehow forgot my garden update postings, so here’s the last couple of months in a nutshell. No action to speak off other than a bit of harvesting here and there and watching the winter veg slowly come into fruition.

The parsnips have nearly all gone after too many sunday roastings and christmas dinners.  I was planning on a Parsnip Veg of the Month round-up around now but to be honest I’ve had very little time to get busy experimenting with the Snips other than a lovely soup I concocted for our Christmas Day lunch, Pear & Parsnip Soup. So maybe I’ll save my parsnip showcase for another time when I’ve a few more to experiment with. My second sowings, fingers crossed, may come good in a few weeks.

We finally have a few Savoys ready for the eating and looking delicious, and the Romanesco Caulies are gloriously growing up and almost big enough for the pot:

A Glorious Savoy

A Glorious Savoy

 
A baby Romanesco

A baby Romanesco

A nearly fully grown up Romanesco Cauliflower

A nearly fully grown up Romanesco Cauliflower

The second sowing of my Calabrese broccoli is now in full force, which the kids are very happy about, broccoli being my far their favourite veggie. And the Purple Sprouting is probably only a few weeks off too, yay!.

Calabrese Broccoli

Also looking pretty healthy is the celery, which I’m using as a cut and come again crop. I’ve absolutely no idea whether this is the done thing, but I’ve been harvesting it like this for months now and it keeps growing back stronger and healthier. A right royal result!.

My bumper crop of 'cut and come again' Celery

My bumper crop of ‘cut and come again’ Celery

And last but not least I should mention the Brussel Sprouts, we finally have a few teeny-weeny ones but pretty much all of my fifteen or so plants have either come to nothing or are diseased. A huge disappointment. I even had to buy some in for our christmas dinner!.

The healthiest of my Brussels plants

The healthiest of my Brussels plants

What We’re Eating from the Patch:
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbages
Calabrese
Carrots 
Celery
Herbs: Parsley, Coriander, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Oregano
Lettuce
Parsnips
Potatoes
Swiss Chard
 
And What’s Stored:
Butternut Squash
Green Beans (freezer)
Pumpkins
Red Onions
Shallots
Tomatoes (freezer)
 

Some earlier updates: 

October in the Garden

August & September in the Garden

July in the Garden

 

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Cheese Bread

Now I know this isn’t exactly the most suitable recipe for any New Year dieters out there, but my excuse is I haven’t started mine yet. I’m still working my way from the excesses of choccies, biscuits, mince pies, christmas cakes, salami and cheese that are still lurking each and every which way I look. How could one possibly start any sort of diet and waste such bounty?. So today I decided to help myself along a little and throw all the cheese scrag ends into an oh so easy and oh soooooo naughty Cheese & Onion Loaf. Though I should hasten to add I still have a quarter of a Stilton and an equal amount of a mighty fine aged local Brebis (Sheeps Cheese). So I’m still a long LONG way of the D word. Thankfully. So my apologies now to any dieters out there, and I would seriously advice you not to make this, as just the one, ridiculously calorific, slice will not possibly be enough. You’ve been warned.

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Finally it seems I have my baking mojo back. After endless freezer-filling pre-christmas baking sessions it’s been the last thing on my mind the last couple of weeks. But today’s a Wednesday and that’s a baking day in our house. The kids aren’t at school and I always try to bake something or other with them each week. Today it was just Jacques and I, as Big Sis was out with Mr F collecting wood. So we made a gloriously quick and simple yeastless and kneadless throw-it-all together Cheese & Onion Bread, that was all made in the time it took to put together a simple Pumpkin Soup. This cheese fest bread is the perfect accompaniment to hearty up a lunch time soup and particularly wonderful served piping hot out of the oven whilst the cheeses are still oozy. And you can literally use any cheese, or combination of cheeses, you happen to have in. I really did use up all our scrag ends, throwing in chunks of goats cheese, Manchego and Comte.

Leftover Cheese Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Makes one large loaf

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

a large red onion, finely sliced

450g of plain flour

a level tablespoon of baking powder

a teaspoon of English mustard powder

a large pinch of salt

a large pinch of black pepper

75g of butter, melted

375ml of milk

250g of leftover cheeses, roughly cut into chunks

Special Equipment: a large loaf tin lined with baking parchment

Preheat your oven to 200ºC.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Gently saute for 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile sieve together the flour, baking powder and mustard powder and stir in the salt and pepper, ensuring everything is thoroughly combined.

Melt the butter and stir into the milk, then stir them both into the dry mixture. Finally mix in the cheesy chunks and onions and dollop into a large lined loaf tin.

Place in your oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on the top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm with soup. Perfect. Perfectly naughty anyway.

If you like this, you might also like to try these other super-easy to bake with kids recipes:  Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins or Cheesy Biscuits

Cheese & Onion Loaf


Happy New Year, and a Parsley Pesto to you!

Parsley Pesto

Well christmas was mayhem at Chez Foti. Lots of friends and family guests, way too much food and good wine, late nights, plenty of doggie walks in the glorious (and surprisingly mild) sunshine and a couple of days of sledging in the Pyrenees. A fabulous time. And now the house is quiet, well as quiet as it gets with a two and a four year old and two chaotic doggies. Here’s hoping you all had a fab festive time and wishing everyone the very best for 2013.

I have to admit to very little on the cooking front since New Years Day. After weeks of pre-christmas freezer-filling baking and cooking it’s been a welcome break to gorge on the leftovers and eat simple pasta suppers. But I have been making plenty of my own pesto, which is ridiculously quick and simple to make. I’ve been using parsley instead of basil, and almonds instead of pine kernels, with fabulous results. My basil finished weeks ago in the garden but the Parsley’s still in happy abundance. And you really can’t beat a bowl of pasta served plainly and simply with lashings of homemade pesto. Though if you want to veg things up a little, as I always do, it’s wonderful with a handful or two of steamed french beans or courgette strips running through the pasta too.

Being of largely herby composition I’m entering my pesto to Lavender and Lovage’s  Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash Chat. 

herbsonsaturday

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Parsley & Almond Pesto

Enough for 4 servings:

40g of parsley, thick stalks removed, washed

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

40g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

60g of whole almonds

75ml of good quality extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of lemon juice

salt & pepper

Simply place all the ingredients, bar the lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and whiz until you have a your desired pesto texture. I like mine fairly rustic with a few lumps and bumps. Or place all the ingredients in a bowl and blitz with a stick blender. Both work equally well. Taste and season with a little lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Et voila, you have super-quick super-tasty homemade pesto. Serve with pasta and/or veggies of your choice.

Bonne annnée everyone!

Parsley Pesto


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