*In the UK you can buy packets of powered béchamel sauce to which you just add milk and heat. However, I can’t find this in Canada and so have to make the sauce from scratch, which is very easy. You will find the recipe below.
You will also need an ovenproof dish large enough to take 16 filled cannelloni shells in a single layer.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), (gas 4).
If making the béchamel sauce from scratch, make it now (see below).
Heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet then gently fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Now add the meat and brown over a medium heat for 5 minutes, breaking up any clumps as it browns.
Next stir in the tomatoes along with the seasonings. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.
If making the béchamel sauce from a packet, make it now, following the directions on the packet.
Pour half the passata into the ovenproof dish.
Fill the cannelloni shells with the meat mixture, placing them in the dish as you go.
Now pour over the remaining passata and then top with the béchamel sauce.
Sprinkle over the mozzarella and then the Parmesan covering the sauce completely.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
In UK the packets of grated mozzarella have no additional additives. In Canada the shredded mozzarella does. To avoid the additives, shred block mozzarella, popping it in the freezer for 30 minutes first to firm up. It will make shredding easier.
1 shallot, skinned and sliced OR a small piece of onion skinned
1 small carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 stick celery, washed and thickly sliced
1 bay leaf
28g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp)
3 tbsp flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the milk into a small pan. Add the vegetables, bay leaf, and peppercorns then bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover the pan and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the milk, discarding the vegetables and flavourings.
Melt the butter in a clean pan and then, over a low heat, blend in the flour. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and then slowly add the milk, stirring continuously, until the mixture is smooth. Now return the pan to the heat and cook the sauce until it thickens, stirring continuously. Season to taste.
1 x 400g tin (or ½ × 796 ml can) chopped/diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée/paste
1tsp chicken bouillon, or 1 × organic stock cube, mixed in 300ml (10 fl oz) (⅔ cup) boiling water
1 tsp sugar
200g (7 oz) spaghetti
½ a small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded (or other green leafed vegetable finely shredded*).
*Savoy cabbage in Canada can be very pale and so I prefer to use something like kale. The dark green colour works well with the spaghetti, although it does sound an unusual combination.
You will also need a large lidded frying pan/skillet.
In a large bowl mix together the pork, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, lemon zest, finely chopped onion, half the garlic and half the sage, a pinch of the crushed chillies, and plenty of seasoning. Once everything is well mixed in, shape into 30 meatballs. Then refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat half the oil in the frying pan/skillet and add the meatballs. Brown over a medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally to brown all sides. This may need to be done in two batches. Remove and set aside.
Now add the remaining oil to the pan, reduce the heat, and add the chopped onions. Cook gently for 5 minutes until they have softened. Then add the remaining garlic and sage and cook for a further minute. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée/paste, stock, sugar, a pinch of crushed chillies, and season. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5–10 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.
Return the meatballs to the pan, then gently simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted, boiling water, adding the cabbage or other green vegetable for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.
Serve the spaghetti alongside the meatballs and sauce.
This is a lasagne recipe that I stumbled across many years ago and that has always been a great family favourite. The dish has three layers of pasta, a meaty tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, topped with Parmesan.
For this recipe you will need a deep sided frying pan/skillet or sauté pan.
Also a 32.5 x 22.5 x 5 cm (13 x 9 x 2 inch) ovenproof dish.
*In the UK the prepackaged grated mozzarella cheese contains only cheese and anti-caking ingredients. In Canada it has more additives, so I buy the block mozzarella and grate it myself. Just pop it in the freezer for ten minutes before grating to firm it up.
A Caesar salad can be served as an accompaniment.
Brown the meat in the frying pan/skillet over a medium heat, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the onion and garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, ⅔ cup water, and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Many brands of lasagne pasta require no pre-cooking but I have found they benefit from cooking for a short time anyway. A baked lasagne using uncooked pasta isn’t as moist.
So, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a glug of olive oil. Drop 5 of the lasagne sheets into the water one at a time (crossing each one over the other) and boil for 4 minutes. They need to be cooked in two batches or they will stick together while cooking. Remove the sheets with a pair of tongs and rinse under cold water, then lay the sheets separately on a clean tea-towel. Repeat with the remaining four sheets.
To layer up the lasagne. First, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of the lasagne pan. Then layer 3 lasagne sheets, a third of the remaining meat sauce, and a third of the mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat layering the pasta, meat sauce, and cheese twice more. Finally sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
Bake, covered with foil, in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving into portions.
Heat half a tablespoon of the oil in the pan and brown the beef, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set to one side.
Cut the bacon rashers into cubes and add to the pan. Once the fat starts to run and they begin to brown, remove from the pan using the slotted spoon and set aside with the beef. This will take about 3–4 minutes.
Now, reduce the heat and add the remaining oil to the pan with the onion, celery, and carrot. Gently cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes until they soften, stirring frequently.
Stir through the garlic and tomato purée/paste and cook for a further minute.
Then return the beef and bacon to the pan. Stir in the red wine and increase the heat to medium. Let the wine bubble away until it has reduced by half.
Next, stir in the beef stock and add half the oregano, nutmeg, bay leaf, and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to very low. Simmer very gently for 45 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the remaining oregano and half the parsley.
Serve the spaghetti sauce over the pasta and scatter the top with the remaining parsley and some grated Parmesan.
You will also need a large frying pan/skillet and a deep sided casserole dish
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into rough pieces. Place in a bowl and moisten with the milk. Mix with a fork to break up into crumbs.
In a large bowl, mix together the soaked breadcrumbs, onion, lamb, eggs, seasoning, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
Shape into 32 meatballs, using wet fingers. Just keep a small bowl of water nearby. (Fingers dipped in flour will just become sticky.) Place them on a plate, cover, and chill for 1 hour to firm up.
Heat half the butter in the pan/skillet over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add half the meatballs. Shake them in the pan to keep them moving and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the casserole dish using a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra butter if needed.
Pour the stock into the panskillet. Bring to the boil, scraping off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the mustard. Pour over the meatballs. Cover the dish with foil and cook above the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.
Mix the crème frâiche and cornflour/cornstarch together in a bowl, then stir into the casserole until well blended. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, uncovered, until bubbling. The sauce will become thick.
You will also need a 2 litre (3 pint) (8 cup) ovenproof dish.
Accompany with a green salad
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until softened.
Increase the heat, add the lamb, and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes until browned all over, breaking up any lumps as it is cooking.
Reduce the heat and stir through the tomato purée/paste and cook for 1–2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, and stock, and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35–40 minutes.
minutes before the meat sauce has finished cooking preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Now for the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, then tip in the flour and stir to make a smooth paste. Cook over a low heat for 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continuously, until smooth. Then cook for 4–5 minutes on a low heat, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken.
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water as directed on the packet. Drain well.
Spread half the macaroni over the base of the dish. Spoon the meat sauce on top. Then cover with the remaining macaroni. Pour the white sauce evenly over the top and scatter with cheese.
Bake for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
A foolproof way to make a smooth white sauce:
Once the butter has melted, tilt the pan so all the melted butter rests in one corner. Tip the flour onto the pool of butter. It will then be easier to stir to a smooth paste. Also preheat the milk in a microwave, on high, for 1 minute, then gradually whisk it into the roux. Adding warm milk gradually will make a smooth sauce without any lumps.
Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan and add the noodles. Cook until tender according to the time recommended on the packet. Once they are tender, remove from the heat but do not drain. Leave for 5 minutes to cool a little.
(This a good time to chop the basil, crush the garlic, dice the ham and red pepper.)
Stir in the cottage cheese, sour cream, cornflour/cornstarch, and seasoning.
Then add the ham, peas, and red pepper.
Spoon into the casserole dish.
Combine the breadcrumbs and cheese and then sprinkle over the top.
Looking for a quick and easy supper from cupboard staples? Then here’s a tasty Tuna and Egg Pasta dish. Penne and a couple of cans of tuna are folded into a cheese sauce and topped with egg and crunchy buttered breadcrumbs.
1.14 litre (2 pint) (6 cup capacity) ovenproof dish
Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Cook penne and onion together in a pan of boiling salted water for as long as directed on the packet of pasta. Drain and set aside.
Melt 55g (2 oz) (¼ cup, or ½ stick) of the butter in a pan, stir in the flour until smooth and cook over a low heat for 1 minute.
While leaving the roux to cook, warm the milk. (The easiest way is to microwave on high power for one minute.) Then gradually blend into the roux, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth. Bring to the boil, stirring, until thickened.
Next add the cheese and seasoning, and stir until the cheese has melted.
Stir through the penne and onion, then gently mix in the tuna, breaking up any large clumps. Spoon into the ovenproof dish.
Next, shell the eggs and cut into quarters. Arrange over the top of the pasta and gently press down.
Finally, melt the remaining butter in a pan and fry the breadcrumbs until crisp. Scatter over the pasta.
Bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes until bubbling around the edges and browning on the top.
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute less than recommended on the packet of the brand you are using. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, pour the milk into a pan and add the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.
In a separate pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until there is a smooth paste (a roux).
Remove the bay leaves from the milk, then gradually add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly, until blended and smooth. Simmer to thicken to a double/whipping cream consistency. Remove from the heat.
Grill the bacon until just crispy. Let it cool a little then cut into small pieces.
Stir the pasta, bacon, cheddar and mustard into the sauce and add the pepper.
Spoon into the ovenproof dish. No need to smooth the top.
Toss the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together. Scatter over the top, completely covering the macaroni cheese mixture. Bake for 40 minutes until the top starts to brown.
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
A green salad or caesar salad
A deep ovenproof dish measuring 22 × 30.5cm/8½ × 12 in, and 6.5cm/2½ in deep
Heat oil in a large pan and cook the onion over a low heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Turn up the heat to moderate and add the meat. Brown, stirring often to break up any lumps, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the oregano, thyme, bay leaf, wine and plenty of seasoning. When the wine has been absorbed, stir in the passata and 250ml/9fl oz water. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. At the end of cooking time the consistency should be that of a loose ragù. Add a little water if it is getting too thick.
Add peas and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes less than the cooking time recommended on the packet. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan assisted/375°F/gas mark 5.
Put a shallow layer of the ragù in the ovenproof dish. Add half the pasta then spoon over half the remaining ragù. Top with all the ham. Scatter over half the mozzarella plus 2 tbsp of the Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta then spoon over the rest of the ragù. Scatter over the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cook in the oven for 20–30 minutes until piping hot and golden.
Serve with extra Parmesan sprinkled on the top and a salad.