A firm favourite with children of all ages. These lamb meatballs flavoured with oregano and Parmesan cheese are cooked in a passata based sauce. Usually served with spaghetti but any pasta you choose will work.
2 slices, about 55g (2 oz) white bread, preferably one day old
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
450g (1 lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
14g (½ oz) flat leaf parsley/Italian parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
28g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated (¼ cup)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small stick celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
14g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 700ml bottle passata
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
Pasta and a green salad or Caesar salad
You will also need large sauté pan with lid and a large frying pan/skillet.
Heat the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and, when hot, add the onion and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat and leave to cool.
Now remove the crusts from the bread and tear into pieces. Put the bread in a shallow dish and cover with the milk.
Next for the tomato sauce, put the carrot, celery, and garlic in a food processor and blitz. Put the butter and oil into the sauté pan and, when hot, add the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook over a medium–low heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in the passata and add the bay leaves and seasoning. Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the meatballs. Put the lamb in a large bowl. Squeeze the milk from the bread and discard adding the bread to the lamb. Put half the parsley on a chopping board, sprinkle over the dried oregano and chop the parsley finely. (This will activate the oregano.) Now add the herbs to the lamb with the egg, Parmesan, cooled onion, and some pepper. Mix together until well combined. Make into 20–24 meatballs, flattening them slightly, and place them on a baking tray lined with clingfilm/cling wrap. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
When the tomato sauce has cooked for the 20 minutes, stir in the milk and continue to cook gently, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Once the meatballs have firmed up, put two tablespoons of oil into a large frying pan and brown the meatballs all over, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce. Cover and cook for a further 20–30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Chop the remaining parsley and, just before serving, sprinkle over the meatballs.
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.
Parmesan coated chicken breasts are baked in a tomato and basil sauce covered with mozzarella. They are served with tagliatelle tossed in chopped parsley and garlic butter and sautéed courgettes/zucchini.
2 courgettes/zucchini cut into 1.25cm (½ inch) slices
1 tbsp olive oil
You will also need an ovenproof dish large enough to take the four chicken breasts in a single layer
Preheat the oven to 200C/400°F/gas mark 6
For the parmigiana
Put the olive oil and garlic into a pan over a medium-low heat and, as soon as the oil starts to sizzle, stir in the tomatoes and tomato purée. Simmer gently for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Remove from the heat and add the shredded basil leaves. Season.
Meanwhile, measure the flour into a plastic bag and season. Then add half the grated Parmesan and shake to mix. Spread out onto a large plate.
Tip the egg into a shallow dish.
Dip the chicken pieces in the egg, shaking off any excess egg while lifting them from the dish. Then coat with the flour and cheese mixture.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan/skillet and add the chicken pieces to the pan. Cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side until they are lightly golden in colour. Transfer to the ovenproof dish and pour the tomato sauce around the chicken.
Lay two slices of mozzarella on top of each chicken breast then sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan.
Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned.
For the tagliatelle
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the tagliatelle and cook for the length of time directed on the packet.
While it is cooking mix the butter with the garlic and chopped parsley.
Drain the tagliatelle, return to the pan with the parsley butter and toss together.
For the courgettes/zucchini
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Add the the courgettes /zucchini and toss in the oil. Sauté for 3–5 minutes turning frequently until cooked through and beginning to colour.
Lift the chicken breasts from the pan onto four serving plates and spoon the tomato sauce around. Garnish the chicken with the basil sprigs.
Serve with the tagliatelle and courgettes/zucchini.
This chicken and mixed cheese bake is made with bite-sized pieces of chicken, strips of bacon and mushrooms, sautéed and then baked in a mixed cheese sauce with a grated Parmesan and breadcrumb topping. A very simple dish that tastes really good.
Cut the bacon into thin strips. Then heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet and add the bacon. Cook over a medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Next, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and put in the pan in a single layer. Brown all over, adding a little extra olive oil if needed. This may need to be done 2 batches. Remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon.
Then put the mushrooms in the pan and sauté over a low heat for 2 minutes, turning occasionally.
Finally, pour in the sauce and heat through.
Return the chicken and bacon to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce. Season and transfer to a gratin dish.
Mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and scatter over the chicken mixture.
Bake near the top of the oven for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sauce is bubbling.
675g/1 lb 4 oz sole fillets (8 small fillets 85g/3 oz each, or 4 large 170g/6 oz each)
2 tbsp oil (not olive oil)
lemon wedges to garnish
For the herb mayonnaise
6 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh chervil or basil, chopped
salt and pepper
a soft green salad
large sauté pan
For the herb mayonnaise
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and herbs. Season. Cover and chill.
For the sole
Put a plate in the oven to warm.
Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Then spread out on a plate.
Season the flour lightly and spread out on a second plate.
Pour the beaten egg into a shallow dish.
Taking one sole fillet at a time, coat in the flour, then dip in the egg and finally coat in the breadcrumbs. Put them on a clean plate as you go.
You will probably need to fry the fillets in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan then add half the fillets and lay in a single layer. Fry gently for 2–4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. When golden and crisp on the underside, turn and cook for a further 2–4 minutes. Remove from the pan and lay on a piece of kitchen paper to absorb any oil. Transfer the fillets to the warmed plate and return it to the oven.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan, then fry the second batch of fillets.
Serve garnished with lemon wedges and the herb mayonnaise.
4 chicken portions (breasts, legs or quarters, skins left on)
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
150ml (5 fl oz) chicken stock* (⅔ cup)
150ml (5 fl oz) single cream (table cream) (⅔ cup)
4 tomatoes, diced
*The sauce is enhanced by using a good stock. In Canada I can recommend ‘Better Than Bouillon’. It really makes a tasty stock and doesn’t contain a lot of additives. In the U.K. I would choose the organic range.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Mix the flour, seasoning and curry or chilli powder together and spread on a plate. Spread the Parmesan cheese on a second plate.
In a small roasting pan, melt 115g (4 oz) (½ cup, or 1 stick) of the butter in the oven. This will only take about 1 minute. Then remove.
Turn the chicken pieces in the butter, shaking them a little when lifting to remove any excess butter. Coat in the flour mixture and then the cheese. Reserve remaining flour.
Return the chicken to the pan in a singe layer, skin side down. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil, turn the chicken and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to crisp up.
Melt the remaining 28g (1 oz) (2 tbsp) butter in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the tomatoes and cook over a medium heat while making the sauce. Shake the pan frequently to keep turning the tomatoes.
Take the chicken out of the pan and keep warm while making the sauce.
Mix the reserved flour into the buttery residue in the pan and stir well, scraping up any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Over a low heat, cook for 1 minute. Slowly blend in the chicken stock and then add the cream. Stir well and bring to the boil to thicken. Remove from the heat.
The traditional shepherd’s pie can be quite bland and my basic Shepherd’s Pie recipe has extra seasonings to liven it up. This one brings a touch of Italian using a Napoletana sauce and with grated Parmesan on the top.
1 fresh rosemary sprig (or a large pinch of dried)
225ml/8 fl oz red wine
500g/17 fl oz Napoletana pasta sauce (or similar)
900g/2 lb potatoes (floury)
50g/2 oz butter
50g/2 oz Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
Brown the lamb in a large pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently to break up any lumps, about 7 minutes. It should be really well browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan with the rosemary and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. There should be enough fat left from browning the meat not to require adding any oil.
Return the lamb to the pan and stir in the wine. Loosen any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan, then leave the wine to bubble gently until roughly half of it has evaporated. Stir in the pasta sauce, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into large chunks. Put in a pan of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan to dry off any excess moisture. Mash with the butter and half the Parmesan.
Preheat the grill to high.
Spoon the meat sauce into a medium-sized ovenproof dish. Top with the potatoes, no need to smooth the surface, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Brown under the grill for about 3 minutes.
Serve with seasonal vegetables.
The dish can be prepared ahead of time up to the grill stage. Cover the dish then refrigerate for up to two days. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and cook the pie for 25–30 minutes until heated through and golden on top.