I love spicy food. And when I say spicy, I don’t just mean chilli heat that burns your tongue off. I mean food that is really rich in spices, with flavours that have tantalising layers and aromatic depths.
So, admittedly, it’s quite tragic that I fell in love with Japan where flavours are clean, simple and precise – with an emphasis on minimalism to bring out the essence of the original ingredient.
I don’t often blog recipes because I rarely take the time to cook something spectacular, and when I do, I’m rarely satisfied with the outcome. I never live up to my own incredibly high standards but I’m working on it. Slowly.
This, however, is an exception: this dish is really quite special and friends have been begging me to blog the recipe for ages. It’s an adaptation of a dish that my mother cooked a few years back, but no-one in the family was an enamoured with it as me.
Well, one of my scrumptious purchases was a Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto from Well Seasoned – a company that creates amazing sauces/dips from seasonal ingredients. I loved the pun, but I loved the product more.
Of course, I had to decide what to do with it. Risotto? Stuff it in pork? For me, a Buttnerut Squash Carbonara recipe won out.
I should confess that, as a child, I refused to eat potatoes. Yes, that included chips (fries) and yes, that included crips. Oh, did I hate potatoes. So my mother brought me up on egg-fried rice, “chick-a-noo-noo” (the child-friendly name for chicken noodle stir-fry), and PASTA.
I’ve almost copied Well Seasoned’s recipe exactly, but I’ve changed the quantities for two people. And yes, it really did need a whole pot of pesto for two!
As a student, it’s a little too luxurious for me to buy a Little Pot of Autumn every time, so it can be replaced by mashing up some butternut squash with seasoning, garlic, sage and maybe a bit of chilli if you like spice. Also, look out for Pheebz Eatz-original butternut squash and feta pasta recipe coming soon 🙂
Butternut Squash Carbonara Serves 2
300g dried spaghetti or tagliattelli
1 Little Pot of Autumn – Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage
3 rashers, thick-cut smoked bacon (or lardons)
Sage to serve, finely sliced
Instructions: 1. Boil the pasta according to cooking instructions in a large saucepan of salted water.
2. Chop the bacon into small chunks, fry until crisp, and then set aside.
3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the saucepan.
4. Stir through one whole Little Pot and keep over the heat for a minute or so to warm through. Add a dollop of crème fraiche and an egg yolk.
5. Crisp up some of the chopped sage in the juices left by lardons, then throw over the pasta just before you serve. (Seriously worth doing this – bacony sage is fantastic!)
I was perusing the “fresh herbs” section of my local supermarket when I spotted a packet of lemon thyme. On closer examination, it recommended that I throw it into a risotto. So I did.
This risotto is simple, quick, delicious and cheap. Enjoy!
Preparation time: 5 mins Cooking time: 25 – 30 mins
One chicken breast, chopped
5 – 6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced (I love chestnut mushrooms for their warm, nutty flavour, but you can adapt)
One small leek, finely sliced
One clove of garlic, crushed
Parmesan shavings, ~30g
Risotto rice, 200g
Chicken stock, 500l (vegetable will do)
100ml white wine (optional)
1tbsp Lemon thyme, finally chopped
In a large pan, fry the chicken on a medium heat until it starts to seal.
Add the leek and fry until it begins to soften.
Add the garlic and the mushrooms and fry until they also begin to soften.
Add the rice and fry for ~2 minutes.
If you are using wine, add this now and stir until the rice has absorbed it.
Add ~1/3 stock and simmer, stirring occasionally.
Once most of the stock has been absorbed, throw in the lemon thyme.
Add a bit more stock, and stir until it is absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been absorbed and/or the risotto is the right consistency (ie. not chewy, but not soggy).
Throw in most of the Parmesan shavings, reserving a few for garnishing, and stir until melted in.
Season to taste.
Sprinkle the remaining Parmsean shavings on top and serve!
This makes a perfect quick lunch or dinner, especially as it’s easily re-heated the next day. I don’t drink wine so I can never justify buying a bottle just for cooking, but the risotto is still very tasty without it.
Tips: don’t overdo the Parmesan or the lemon thyme. Taste throughout the cooking process to see if you have the flavour balance to your liking.
I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Waterstones with a free recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.
The phrase “15-Minute” made me very excited. The word “Chorizo” made me even more excited.
This recipe is great because it is almost that quick (I’m slow at chopping and don’t want to lose any digits…) and it’s cheap, and it’s mouthwatering, delicious and addictive. So addictive, in fact, that I’ve made it three times so far!
Here is the recipe with quantities adapted for one person, and a couple of additions/adaptations. Enjoy!
Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara (Pheebz Eatz style) Serves 1 greedy person like me
Chorizo (one large finger’s length)
Fresh red chilli (half)
Rosemary (one sprig)
Red pepper (half)
Egg (one, medium-sized)
Yoghurt (natural fat-free, two tablespoons)
Lemon juice (one and a half tablespoons)
Manchego cheese (one finger)
Boil a pan of water and start cooking the pasta.
Chop the pepper and begin to fry in olive oil.
Finely slice the chorizo. Finely chop the chilli and rosemary. Chop/crush garlic.
When the pepper starts to soften, add the chorizo, chilli, rosemary, garlic and a good amount of black pepper, and fry until the chorizo starts to shrink. (Be careful not to burn the chorizo, but make sure it is cooked or it won’t release its wonderful flavour).
Beat the egg, lemon juice and yoghurt together in a jug.
Drain pasta and reserve a cup of the starchy water.
Add pasta and the yoghurt mixture. Add the cooking water to loosen as necessary.
Grate the manchego into the pan and mix until melted.
Season to taste and serve.
The original recipe comes with a Catalan market salad, which is way beyond my budget as a student. However, some baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and a little bit of manchego made a great accompaniment.
This is a winning recipe from BBC Good Food – it’s easily made from items in the store cupboard and it’s so quick and easy even I couldn’t screw it up. (Note to self: do NOT turn hand blender on when it is not fully immersed in the soup).
It’s rich, filling, healthy and spice levels can be easily moderated with yoghurt. It fed me for 3 days. Students and busy people – get on it now!