Creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

My go-to cookbook is the amazing The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander. Whenever I’m not sure what to do with a vegetable, particularly if I have a lot of something, I refer to the chapter in Stephanie’s book and pick out an always-delicious recipe. The other week we had a lot of zucchinis delivered in our vegetable box and I did just that.

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

This recipe is inspired by Stephanie Alexander’s Slow-cooked Zucchini. I love the idea of cooking zucchini for a long time to create a glossy and unctuous texture. It makes this simple ingredient so luxurious.

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

I decided to turn the zucchini into a creamy pasta bake, because how can you go wrong with a creamy pasta bake?

This is a great comfort food dish. I happened to make this dish on a night when bedtime for the little one was particularly trying, and dinner was eaten tag-team between my husband and I. This is the perfect dish for solo eating. Decadent, rich and luscious. Enjoy!

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

Creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 4-5 zucchinis, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 250g fusilli
  • 20g parmesan, plus extra
  • 200g crème fraîche
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 50g breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat and add zucchini and garlic. Lower heat and cover. Cook for 20 mins, stirring frequently until the zucchini has become squidgy and will mash easily.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mash the zucchini with a fork or potato masher, and add the lemon juice, chilli flakes and anchovy fillets. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat the oven at 180° Celsius.
  5. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.
  6. Add ½-1 cup of pasta water to the zucchini mixture to loosen, along with the crème fraîche and parmesan. Add cooked pasta and stir.
  7. Put pasta mixture into a roasting tray and top with breadcrumb mixture. Grate an extra layer of parmesan over the top of the breadcrumbs.
  8. Cook in the oven at 180° Celsius for 15-20 mins until golden and crunchy.

 

Advertisements

Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

There is something about having dinner bubbling away by noon that makes you feel like a boss for the rest of the day. It makes dinner hassle-free, and even the prep seems quicker earlier in the day. With a new baby in the house, and being the middle of winter, the slow cooker has become my best friend.

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

I wanted to create a slow cooker beef dish that would be the ultimate comfort meal. I make a lot of slow cooked beef dishes that involve tomatoes, but I wanted something richer, something creamier, and something that seemed more indulgent. However, this dish still has lots of veg and makes getting your ‘five-a-day’ easy.

So in addition to carrots, celery and mushrooms, a classic beef combination, I decided to go with the often overlooked Brussels sprout. I am a fairly recent convert myself. When I lived in Cambridge for a year I subscribed to a weekly veg box and received many many Brussels sprouts which necessitated learning how to cook them a variety of ways. And I realised that when cooked well they can be delicious! In this dish, the Brussels sprouts soak up the flavour of the mustard and provide a crunchy texture and a nutty depth of flavour to the casserole.

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

Serve with mashed potatoes and red wine, for a cosy supper on a cold night. I made this on a night when the wind was hammering at the windows and the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful.

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into thick slices
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of parsley, to serve
  • 1 lemon, to serve
  • Mashed potato, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat oil in the base of the slow cooker set to ‘sear’ function. If you do not have this function, use a frying pan. Add the onion and sear the meat until all surfaces are browned.
  2. Add the flour and stir to evenly distribute and coat beef. Cook for 1 min.
  3. Add beer and stock, deglazing the base of the pan with the liquid. If using a frying pan, move beef to the slow cooker at this point.
  4. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mustard.
  5. Set your slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
  6. Add the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.
  7. Once cooking is complete, add cream and stir. Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with parsley and a spritz of lemon juice.

 

Spiced Chicken Bake with Cauliflower and Almonds

Spiced chicken traybake with cauliflower and almonds that is easy and quick to prepare!

With a young baby in the house, early evenings are now very busy times. At 6pm our house is go-go-go! Bath time is happening and bedtime is approaching. So… dinner preparation has had to become super-slick. The less time required in the kitchen, the less multi-tasking for this tired mama!

Spiced chicken and cauliflower traybake that is easy and quick to prepare!

I wanted to create a dish that would eliminate the crazy from our evenings. Something that involves minimal effort to put together. Something that I can whack into the oven and forget about until my husband and I are ready to eat. Our ‘dinner time’ varies from one night to the next and it is nice to be able to sit down to eat together as soon as bub is asleep.

Spiced chicken traybake with cauliflower and almonds that is easy and quick to prepare!

I LOVE cauliflower. It is seriously one of my favourite vegetables. My all-time favourite dish growing up was a luscious cauliflower cheese to accompany a roast lamb. This, sadly, is one of the few ways I know how to cook this delightful vegetable. Given cauliflower is in season at the moment in Melbourne, I decided to try cooking it a different way. I have also been loving almonds in savoury dishes and thought that they would provide an interesting crunch. The overall effect is one of major scrumptiousness. I love this recipe – not only are we set up for a yummy dinner, but also a peaceful evening, and who can complain about that?

Spiced chicken traybake with cauliflower and almonds that is easy and quick to prepare!

Spiced Chicken Bake with Cauliflower and Almonds

  • Servings: 3
  • Print

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup almonds, crushed
  • ½ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • ½ cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 black olives, pitted and sliced
  • ½ bunch coriander, coarsely chopped
  • Couscous, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 220° Celsius.
  2. Combine olive oil, garlic, ground coriander, cumin, lemon juice, salt, pepper, almonds and chilli flakes in a large bowl.
  3. Add the chicken drumsticks to the marinade and toss to ensure an even coating.
  4. Place the chicken in a roasting tray with the red onion and cauliflower.
  5. Bake in oven for 20 mins.
  6. Reduce heat to 180° C and baste with juices. Bake for a further 40 mins.
  7. Add olives to the roasting tray 10 mins prior to the end of the cooking time.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with couscous and lemon wedges.

Roast Lamb Pie

A cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pie

Growing up, my mother’s specialty dish was a hearty roast lamb. It was by far the family favourite, preferred over pork, beef and chicken. I think my mum started cooking it because my father had grown up eating roast lamb every Sunday, cooked by my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away, my mum, her daughter-in-law, kept up the tradition. And of course, it was served with all the great British trimmings – mint sauce, gravy, potatoes, carrots, peas…

A cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pieA cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pie

I have for you here a reinvention, if you will. I called on my memories of roast lamb and the flavours that it entailed. My pie has potatoes, carrots, mint and peas! Reminiscent of old fashioned family Sunday dinners. A meal for a winter Sunday lunch, for family gathered around. To share a good bottle of red wine, and to spend the afternoon debating answers to the Sunday quiz.

A cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pieA cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pie

 

Roast Lamb Pie

  • Servings: Makes 2 pies; 4 serves per pie
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg lamb shoulder, bone on
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 rashers bacon, diced
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 carrots, cut into thick rounds
  • 500g potatoes, washed, peeled and diced into 2 cm chunks
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Heat oil in slow cooker set to ‘sear’ mode (or use heavy bottomed saucepan on stove). Sear lamb until browned all over. Add red onion and bacon and stir.
  2. Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes until juices are thickened.
  3. Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid reduces by half. Transfer lamb to slow cooker.
  4. Add beef stock, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, carrots, potatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Set slow cooker to ‘slow cook’ mode and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  6. Once ready, set slow cooker to ‘sear’ mode again and bubble until liquid thickens. Stir through peas and mint.
  7. Spray a pie dish with oil and preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
  8. Spoon the pie filling into the dish and top with the pastry sheet, using a little oil to seal the edges. Prick several holes in the pastry with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve with fresh mint.