Simple to prepare, this tasty pasta dish gets cooked in one pan in just under 30 minutes. Lamb is cooked in a red wine, tomato and thyme sauce with farfalle (bow-tie pasta). Great served with a leafy salad, and crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
170g (6 oz) sliced ham, cut into strips (about 6 slices)
225g (8 oz) mozzarella cheese, chopped
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
A green salad or caesar salad
You will also need a deep ovenproof dish measuring 22cm x 30.5cm (8½ ins x 12 ins) and 6.5cm (2½ ins) deep.
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Now turn up the heat to moderate, add the meat and brown, stirring often to break up any lumps, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the oregano, thyme, wine, and plenty of seasoning. Continue to cook until the wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Next, stir in the passata, 240ml (8 fl oz) (1 cup) water, and add the bay leaf. Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time the consistency should be that of a loose ragù. Add a little more water if it is getting too thick.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F)( gas 5).
minutes before the ragù has finished cooking, start cooking the pasta. Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling salted water and let it cook for 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the packet. Drain.
Add the peas to the ragù and then remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.
Now to layer the dish. Spoon a thin layer of the ragù over the base of the ovenproof dish. Add half the pasta and then spoon over half the remaining ragù. Top with all the ham. Now 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. Finally scatter over the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes until piping hot and golden.
Serve with extra Parmesan sprinkled on the top and a salad.
Here is a lovely dish to use up that leftover chicken or turkey. Chicken chunks are combined with cauliflower florets, baby spinach and penne in a flavoured cheese sauce which is topped with a crisp, cheesy, breadcrumb topping.
340g (12 oz) cooked chicken or turkey cut into small chunks (3 cups)
115g (4 oz) baby spinach leaves (4 cups)
2 tbsp sage, chopped
1 tsp thyme, stems removed
45g (1½ oz) fresh breadcrumbs (1 cup)
You will also need a 3 litre (12 cup) casserole dish, greased.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas5)
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling, salted water for 6 minutes.
Next, break the cauliflower into small florets and once the pasta has cooked for 6 minutes, add the florets to the pan. Bring the water back to the boil then cook for 2 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan. Add the onion and stir to coat with the butter, then cook gently for about 3 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Now stir in the flour and season. Next, gradually whisk in the stock until there is a smooth sauce. Then bring the stock to the boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add three quarters of the cheese, stirring until it has melted.
In a large bowl combine the pasta mixture, meat, spinach, sage, thyme, and sauce. Pour into the casserole dish.
Now toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle evenly over the top,
Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edge and the top is golden.
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.
115g (4 oz) mozzarella cheese, cut into four thick slices
2 tsp dried oregano
½ red pepper, sliced thinly
½ yellow pepper, sliced thinly
½ orange pepper, sliced thinly
Pasta (fettuccini works well)
Cut the pork into four and then flatten a little by placing each piece between cling film/wrap and bashing with a rolling pin. Place the fillets side by side in a dish, season and add the sprigs of oregano and crushed garlic. Pour over the wine, cover and marinade for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) gas 6.
Spread the flour on a plate. Remove the fillets from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Dry them on kitchen paper and then coat both sides in the flour.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the butter in a large frying pan/skillet over a moderate heat. The butter will begin to foam and when this almost stops, add the pork fillets and sear on both sides, about 2–4 minutes. Strain the reserved marinade and add to the pan/skillet let it bubble for 30 seconds, then add the stock and season. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a low setting, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Bring a kettle of water to the boil for the pasta and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet.
Meanwhile, pour the passata into a saucepan over a moderate heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season and let bubble, uncovered, to reduce to a thick sauce, about 5 minutes.
Next mix the peppers in a bowl, pour over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir to coat. Tip into a large pan and sauté until soft.
Once the pork is cooked through, remove to an ovenproof dish. Add 1 tablespoon water to the frying pan, stir and then reduce the liquid to 3–4 tablespoons. Spoon over the pork. Cover each fillet with a slice of mozzarella and then add a large spoonful of the passata sauce in the middle of the slice. Sprinkle over the oregano. Heat in the oven until the cheese just starts to melt, about 5 minutes.
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.