Tag Archives: Pasta

Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne

An extremely simple and extremely quick pasta supper for all the family today that’s oh so yum. Our kids love it, but then they really like fish, and broccoli’s interestingly both their fave veggie.

Unknowingly I think I may have used the last of our lovely Chez Foti broccoli in this dish. I went out to pick some more today thinking we had loads to eat up, only to find our new feathery residents have stripped all the heads bare!. They’ve also nibbled up all my baby savoy cabbages and uprooted the lovely beetroot. Hmmmm. Me thinks it’s time to fence off the veggie plot.

Enough for a family of four:

A smallish broccoli, separated into bite size florets

200g dried penne pasta, or similar

5 spring onions, sliced

olive oil

3 tbsps of creme fraiche

zest of one lemon, plus a little juice

a large handful of parsley, finely chopped

180g smoked salmon, cut into small strips

salt & pepper

grated Parmesan to serve

Steam the broccoli florets until they’re al dente – cooked but with a tiny bit of bite to them. At the same time, but in a different pan, cook the pasta to packet instructions, again so it’s al dente. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan or large saucepan and add the merest dash of olive oil and the diced spring onions. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Add the steamed broccoli florets, creme fraiche, lemon zest, chopped parsley and the salmon. Give everything a good stir around and heat until bubbling and allow to cook for a couple of minutes more.

Taste the sauce and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper, salt if necessary (the smoked salmon’s pretty salty so you may not need to add any more), and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.  Taste again and add more of each to suit.

Stir in the pasta and serve immediately with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan over the top.

Simple as that!

Like this? Have you tried these other recipes – Kid’s Bolognese, Pumpkin Mac n’ Cheese, Roasted Veggie Lasagne or Salmon Fishcakes?


Kid’s Bolognese

I make a bolognese pasta sauce especially for my children throwing in a whole heap of veggies to bulk out the meat. Not only does this make your bolognese a good deal healthier for little tums, but also a good deal cheaper, making a little meat go a long way. It seems that however much other goodness you add the sauce still retains the lovely meaty bolognesy flavour which kids adore. And obviously it doesn’t have to be just for the wee ones, it really is very yummy for big people too!.

You really can throw in a huge variety of veggies to this. In addition to the onions and carrots I added about 300g of finely diced pumpkin, 75g of carrots, and 125g of french beans from my freezer. You could use mushrooms, parsnips, squash, swede, sweet potato, peas, spinach, sweetcorn, celery, peppers, aubergine…the list goes on!. I’ve even added potatoes and chick peas in the past, and both work extremely well. Be brave, chuck it in!.

Try to only use good quality mince, that’s preferably been minced by the butcher in front of you. I tend to add lots of fresh thyme to my bolognese as it grows in abundance here, but if you don’t have any to hand I wouldn’t go to the trouble and expense of buying it especially.

I tend to make the sauce in pretty large batches so I can freeze the leftovers in tupperware portions to bring out for a quick no brainer dinner when I’m short on time.

Enough for 10 to 12 little kids portions:

2 tbsps of olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

500g mixed veggies, cut into a small dice

400g good quality minced beef

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

1 dessertspoon of tomato puree

a few sprigs of thyme (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp of worcester sauce

black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened, stirring regularly.

Now add the veggies that you’ve selected. If you’re using peas, spinach, sweetcorn or any other easily cooked veggie leave out until nearer the end of the cooking process. Cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring regularly.

Add the minced beef and cook until browned.

Throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaves, thyme (if using), worcester sauce and a little freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. If your using veggies that take less time to cook don’t forget to add them a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.

And it’s easy as that!. One large vat of healthy and delicious bolognese sauce to fill those little tums done!

Serve on the pasta of your children’s choice with a generous sprinkling of cheese….my kids love to do the ‘sprinkles’ themselves!

Like my bowls and spoons, they’re lovely aren’t they? They’re from Oogaa who design and sell fabulous and safe feeding products for babies and young children, in gorgeous and fun designs and colours. For more information check out the Oogaa website, www.oogaa.com.

Have you tried any of my other kids dinners? How about my Simple Chicken Stew, Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese, Fish & Chips, Cottage Pie , Kids Fish Pie , Kid’s 5-a-day pasta sauce or Salmon Fishcakes recipes?


Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

I’ve not gone all American, just paying homage to a couple of recipes for Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese that I recently read on US blogs over Thanksgiving time: Brokeass Gourmet and The Garden of Eating. Being new to this world of blogging I’ve being doing a bit of reading myself of other blogs and Twitters, and I’ve found some great sites just like these two.

This recipe has rekindled my old love affair with macaroni cheese.  Mac cheese was always my ultimate comfort food, my mum without fail would make this cheesy treat when I was feeling poorly. The last few years though I’ve rarely made it, in part because my daughter Francesca has never liked creamy cheesy sauces, and it’s fallen out of my comfort food favour, preferring instead a simple casserole or pie. But this one is simply divine, bringing a slightly more grown up depth with the inclusion of pumpkin, onion and thyme. A fabulous dinner for kids, they’ll love it…although I have to admit Francesca still refused to budge on her dislike of macaroni cheese!

I’ve adapted my recipe from both these sites. They finish the dish in the oven with a breadcrumb topping.  I was intending to do this, but had two hungry mouths to feed and simply ran out of time, so I served up straight out of the saucepan. One of the recipes also uses tinned pumpkin which is something that doesn’t exist outside the US, and besides here at Chez Foti we still have a considerable surplus of pumpkins to get through!

If you don’t have any pumpkin or it’s not particularly flavoursome, substitute with butternut squash. I like to add a smidgen of english mustard to my cheese sauce, as it heightens the flavour of the cheese.

Enough for a family of four:

350g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled

olive oil

salt & pepper

225g macaroni

a small onion, or half a normal sized, finely diced

40g butter

40g plain flour

a few springs of thyme, leaves removed (optional)

350ml milk

90g cheddar cheese

½ tsp english mustard (optional)

Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash into roughly 1 to 2cm cubes. Place on a baking sheet or tray and rub in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

Meanwhile cook your macaroni according to packet instructions.

To make the sauce place the butter in a saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onion is translucent. Now add the thyme. With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and whisk vigorously with a balloon whisk until combined. Add a little milk and continue to whisk vigorously, continue to add the milk in this way until you have incorporated it all.  Don’t worry if you have a few lumps at this stage, they’ll eventually go. Continue to stir or whisk the sauce constantly over a gentle heat until it is fully thickened and starting to simmer, this will take a few minutes. When simmering, take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard (if using).

Once the pumpkin is roasted, mash roughly with the back of a fork and add to the cheese sauce. Combine the sauce with the pasta and serve immediately….unless obviously you have a little more time than me and want to bake it. If you do place in a buttered ovenproof dish and top with a little extra cheese and a handful of breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

Here’s Jacques rather messily tucking into his Mac ‘n Cheese, refusing to use a spoon and only hands today. That’s my boy!


Jamie’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

A lovely pasta bake that according to Mr Jamie Oliver is the most standard school dinner that exists in Italy.  Taken from his Italy book, this is a winner in our house, and so very very easy to assemble.  I’d happily eat school dinners if they were this good, interestingly it’s Italian law that it only be made with organic pasta and extra virgin olive oil! English schools take note!

Apart from the Mozzarella it can be made from standard store cupboard stuff, which is precisely why I came to make it last night as we desperately need a big shop, though I do sneakily keep Mozzarella in the freezer incase an impromptu pizza night comes about.  I used penne pasta and Grana Padano cheese rather than Parmesan.

Enough for 4 very hungry grown ups:

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

1 or 2 dried red chillies, crumbled

3 x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes, chopped

a large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

optional: 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

400g/14oz dried orecchiette pasta

4 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 x 150g balls of Mozzarella, sliced

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Add a couple of tbsp of olive oil to a large high sided saucepan and place on the heat, add the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry for a few minutes on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is softened.  Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, allow to simmer gently for about 20 minutes.  Blend the sauce with a stick blender or place in a food processor.

Add your basil to the sauce as well as the red wine vinegar (if using), and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook your pasta according to packet instruction in a saucepan of boiling salted water.  Once cooked drain and stir in half the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan.

Into a large baking tray or earthenware dish place about a third of the pasta.  On top of this add some tomato sauce, a handful of Parmesan, and one of the sliced up Mozzarella balls.  Repeat these layers twice, ending up with a lovely cheesy layer on top.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or so.

Lovely served with a nice crisp green salad and a hunk of bread.


Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce

6-8 months +, Toddlers & Young Children

This is a great pasta sauce for babies, toddlers & kids.  It’s quick and easy to make, healthy, tasty and hides an umteen amount of veggies which has got to be good!  I literally throw in any veggies that happen to be lurking and handily clear out my fridge in doing so,  and as they’re all whizzed up with tomato and creme fraiche, they’ll never ever know exactly what you’ve put in it. Excellent if you have difficulty getting your kids to eat their veggies.

I tend to make my sauce in quite large quantities so that I can freeze all the leftovers (in tupperware portions that can be pulled out and made into almost instant dinners).

If making for young babies serve the sauce with an appropriate sized pasta, teeny weeny pasta stars are perfect for weening babies onto lumps in their food. Increase the size of the pasta as they get more accomplished and by the time they’re toddling around they should be eating grown up pasta sizes and shapes.

In this particular sauce I used a courgette, half an aubergine, a handful of french beans and surprise surprise a large slice of pumpkin (yep it really does go into anything and everything these days!).  You really can add a whole multitude of veg, peppers, carrots, squash, peas, celery, broccoli and mushrooms all work really well too.

Enough for several children’s meals
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
600g mixed veggies (see above list)
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
a bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp of tomato puree
100 ml water
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
2 heaped tbsp creme fraiche

Add the oil, onion and garlic to a high sided saucepan and saute for a few minutes, until the onion is soft.  Meanwhile roughly chop your veggie selection into smallish chunks – don’t worry about them all being uniform and neat as you’re going to blitz the mixture later anyway.

Add the veggies to the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring at regular intervals.  If they appear to be catching on the bottom add a splash of water to the pan.  After 5 minutes, stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, 100 ml of water, bay leaf, oregano, pinch of sugar and maybe a little salt and pepper (if your child is very young then obviously don’t add any salt).

Cook the sauce for a further 15 to 20 minutes until all the veggies are soft and fully cooked through.  Take out your bay leaf, add the creme fraiche and blitz the sauce until smooth (and all veggies fully unidentifiable!) either with a stick blender in the saucepan or in a food processor.  Job done!  One huge pan of yummy pasta sauce.

Serve with whatever pasta your precious monsters like most and a sprinkling of cheese on the top.  And I promise you they’ll never guess what’s in it!


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