Tagliatelle with Roast Parsnips, Leeks, Bacon & Cream

I have made pasta dishes similar to this one before, but it occurred to me that you could add all sorts of different roast root vegetables, just to get even move goodness in your diet. Bacon and parsnips is a winning combination and along with the leeks, this made a really tasty dinner.

Tagliatelle with Roast Parsnips, Leeks, Bacon & Cream

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil

1 large parsnip

6 slices thin-cut smoked streaky bacon, cut into small strips

1 large leek or 2 small, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, shredded crosswise and washed

100mls double cream

125g Tagliatelle

Finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and cut the parsnip into 1cm cubes. Toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined roasting tray and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or so until tender and golden brown. Stir once or twice to ensure even cooking.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over a low heat for as long as possible, stirring often, until leeks first completely soften and then begin to caramelize. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Add the cream to the leeks and some of the pasta water so that you have a nice creamy consistency but not too dry. Check seasoning. Drain pasta and add to the leeks and bacon. Add the parmesan to taste and serve straight away.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

I permanently seem to have butternut squash to use up at the moment. No matter how many recipes I think up for this blog, there still always seems to be yet another half of one in my fridge. So here is yet another idea – Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola. Really delicious, it will make you wish that you had squash to use up every day.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

Chicken stock is best for this risotto but vegetable stock is fine as well. If it is not home-made use a good quality cube like Kello.

½ butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and ciubed

Extra virgin olive oil

100g butter

1 leek, shredded and washed

100mls white wine

1 litre stock – either home-made of from cubes.

200g risotto rice

75g Parmesan, finely grated

Gorgonzola or another blue cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Toss the diced butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the leek and a good pinch of salt and gently fry without colour until softened for about 10 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for a minute more and then add the wine. Keep stirring. It is banging the grains of rice together which releases the starch which makes your risotto creamy. Gradually start to add the stock a ladleful at a time. When the liquid has just about been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Keep cooking like this for 20-25 mins until the rice is chewy but not chalky. Add the butternut squash, parmesan and the rest of the butter but do not stir, and leave to sit covered for a minute or two. Finally give the risotto a good stir and crumble the blue cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

Tom Kha with Butternut Squash

Tom Kha Gai, the delicious Thai soup, literally translates as Soup Galangal Chicken. Sounds better in Thai!  My variation misses out the chicken and instead replaces it with butternut squash. They don’t have a word for butternut squash in Thailand. Or maybe they do. Listen to the translation in the link. So I simply call this soup Tom Kha with Butternut Squash. Whatever you call it, it is delicious. The clean, vibrant flavours of the lemon grass and lime leaves combine with the heat of the chilli and coconut milk and contrast brilliantly with the richness of the butternut squash.

Tom Kha with Butternut Squash

Work at getting the balance just right, add more lime juice, chilli, Nam Pla etc to taste. It should be sour, salty, sweet and hot.

Serves 2

½  butternut squash, skin and seeds removed & cubed

1 stick lemongrass, bashed

4 kaffir limes leaves (fresh or frozen)

1 small handful fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)

1 thumb-size piece galangal, bashed

1-2 thai red or green chillies

1 can good-quality coconut milk

1  lime squeezed

2 tbsp fish sauce ( Nam Pla) Optional for vegetarians

fresh coriander leaves finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200C degrees. Add butternut squash to a baking sheet and toss with a little coconut oil and a bit of sea salt. Roast for 15-25 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the meantime, add coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, Thai basil, chillies and lime leaves to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer. If you want more heat from the chillies then gently squeeze them to release the heat. Add fish sauce to taste. Allow the infuse until all the flavours come through. Add some lime juice to taste. Strain and pour back into the saucepan with the butternut squash. Re-heat and serve with coriander leaves.

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

I always forget about polenta, which is a shame, because I love it. It is the ultimate comfort food, like savoury porridge. If you have had it before and found it a bit bland, it is because you did not add enough of two very important ingredients – a large knob of butter and a generous handful of parmesan. You can have it grilled or baked but I prefer classic “wet polenta” topped with lots of lovely sautéed seasonal vegetables.

Most polenta you buy now is instant (precooked) and will be done in a minute but it is worth looking out for the king of polentas – Bramata which will take nearer 20 minutes to cook, but it is worth it!

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

8 mushrooms, sliced

Large handful of Kale, stripped from the stalks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the Polenta

750ml water

200g polenta

50g unsalted butter

50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the mushrooms in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep cooking – the mushrooms will sweat and then started to fry and then turn golden brown.

Strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale Add another glug of oil to the mushrooms and add the garlic slithers and cook until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well to break up the kale and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.

For the polenta, bring the water to a simmer, add salt, whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously. Pour onto a plate and top with the mushrooms and kale.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

There seems to be a overwhelming number of variations on hummus these days. Sometimes in the supermarkets it is hard to even find the old-fashioned chickpea variety. Deliciously Ella has about 10 different types on her blog – Roasted Carrot, Sun-dried Tomato, Basil – I could go on. So  I decided to try out a few at home and was quite pleased with this Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus. I always seem to have half a butternut squash hanging around and I guess it add a few more vitamins to chickpeas alone and it went down well as half-term lunch, served up with crudités and pitta bread. It also works well with roast red peppers and a little cumin, so I am giving you that recipe too.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

½ butternut squash

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven 200C. Put peppers on a tray and roast until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. Remove and place in a bowl covered with cling film, or in a sealed Tupperware, to allow them to steam. When cool enough to handle gently peel away the charred pepper skin and remove the stalk and seeds. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Roast Red Pepper Hummus with Cumin

2 whole red peppers

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven 200C.  Roast the peppers in the oven until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. This should take about 30 minutes. The blackening adds a smokiness to the flavour of the pepper and makes the skins easy to remove. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with cling film to steam a while. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds.  Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.


Roast Tomato Soup with Basil and Balsamic

I know it is a strange time of year to be writing about Tomato Soup. Surely the time for this recipe is at the end of Summer when everyone has a glut of tomatoes, red and green, to us- up some how.

But it was half-term and I always struggle with suddenly having to produce a healthy, hearty lunch everyday for the kids. By day three the cupboards were bare, and that is when I resorted to this quick and easy tomato soup. Tomatoes are not really at their best in Winter, so roasting them really helps to intensify their flavour and release their natural sweetness. The balsamic vinegar added an extra hint of sweetness, so no need for added sugar, as in Heinz. The kids loved it. Only two more days to go!

Roast Tomato Soup with Basil and Balsamic

1 kg tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, peeled and whole

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Handful of basil leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Cut tomatoes into ¼ and season them well with salt and pepper. Toss with plenty of olive oil, the garlic cloves and the basil. Tip into a shallow baking dish and roast for about an hour. Stir from time to time. The longer the tomatoes cook down the more intense the flavour. Tip into a saucepan and add about ½ litre of water. Add the balsamic and puree with a hand blender until really smooth (most kids don’t like to see the tomato pips.) You can use a liquidiser or food processor instead. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.



Just as I thought the weather was getting warmer, temperatures dropped accompanied by a bitterly cold wind. I need sustenance fast and nothing is going to sustain you more than the famous French dish from the Savoy region in the French Alps – Tartiflette. A mixture of Reblochon cheese, bacon lardons, potatoes and onions, it is rib sticking rich and guaranteed to warm you up.


Serves 6

1.3kg (3lb) waxy potatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

250g (9oz) chunky bacon lardons

2 onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons Creme Fraiche

1 Reblochon, about 350g (12oz)

Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices about 1” thick. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender. You should be able to easily insert a knife. Drain. Heat oil in a sauté pan and cook the lardons over a medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Turn down the heat, add the onion and a good pinch of salt to help them cook down and cook until soft and beginning to colour. Throw in the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add this to the potatoes and gently combine. Finally stir in the Crème Fraîche. Give one final stir and tip the whole lot into a oven-proof dish. Season with pepper.

Slice the Reblochon and lay on top of the potato. Bake in an oven, preheated to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5, for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.

Aloo Gobi

Riverford supply a variety of different potatoes throughout the year. The qualities of the potato of the moment are always written on the bag ranging from floury to waxy, it is important to choose the right potato for the recipe. Waxy potatoes will never make a good chip, or roast potato for that matter. On the other hand, if you choose a floury potato for your Spanish omelette, you are going to end up with mash. I particularly like the selection of waxy potatoes which Riverford offers. These are quite hard to get hold of in England apart from the obvious new potatoes or Charlotte, which are usually sold very small, making them laborious and time consuming to peel. They are best left whole with their skins on.

Aloo Gobi requires a waxy potato which holds it shape. I used the Alouette potatoes which often turn up in the boxes at this time of year. I like to roast the cauliflower in a little coconut oil and add it at the end to give the finished dish more texture. Serve up on its own with a nan or alongside your favourite curry.

Aloo Gobi

Coconut Oil

2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1-2 small green chilli, chopped

Large knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even small bite size pieces

1 large cauliflower, broken or cut into large bite size florets

1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped


Heat some coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until they become creamy, golden, and translucent. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric and salt. Continue to fry for a minute or two more but do not burn. Add chopped chillies (according to taste). Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly. Cook a few minutes more. Add potatoes plus a few tablespoons of water and stir well to ensure that they are coated with the curry sauce. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Keep checking and stirring every now and then so that it does not catch and burn.  Add a little more water each time if necessary. When the potatoes are about half cooked, add the cauliflower, stir well and cover again.  Leave for a further 10 minutes of so until the potatoes and cauliflower are cooked.  Stir in the cardamom and coriander and adjust seasoning.  Try not to stir to much at this stage so as to keep the texture.  Allow to sit for a while to allow flavours to infuse.

Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Three lovely potato dishes for you this week. First up a Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin. I am cooking this at the SuperClub this week in Putney and since I have never made it before I thought I had better give it a try. Obviously you can make a gratin with practically any root veg but it is the starch in the potato which helps hold the whole thing together, so it is always worth putting a bit of potato in, even if it is not the main ingredient.

I love Jerusalem artichokes. Though strangely enough they do not come from Jerusalem and have nothing to do with artichokes. They are in face a  tuber from the sunflower family and originate from North America.

This gratin is delicious on its own served up with a nice green salad, or would work very well along side a piece of chicken or lamb.

Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Serves 8-10  This makes a very large gratin. You can cut the amount easily by 1/3 or 2/3

1 cup milk (250mls)

3 cups Double cream (750mls)

3 whole peeled garlic cloves

1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper, to taste

800g potatoes, sliced thin

500g Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled

In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, whole garlic cloves and rosemary over low-medium heat being careful not to boil over. Gently boil for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. The cream is going to season the whole dish so it can be quite salty. Arrange the sliced Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes in a gratin dish. The Jerusalem artichokes discolour quickly so finish with a layer of potatoes.

Mash up the garlic cloves in the cream until they dissolve. Check the seasoning of the cream. Pour the infused milk over the potatoes. It should come up nearly to the top, but not quite. If necessary add a little more milk. Cover the dish with foil and place in a preheated 170 degree oven. Pre-boiling the cream should stop the gratin boiling over in the oven but just in case put a layer of tin foil under the gratin to save on washing up. Bake for about 1 hour until the potatoes are tender. A knife should easily insert in the middle. Uncover and bake for 15 additional minutes until gratin is golden around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Turlu Turlu

Good to my word, I tried out a fresh tomato sauce, just to see how it turned out. As far as I know, there are two schools of tomato sauce. The Italian version which consists of no more than olive oil, garlic and tomatoes and maybe a little basil, or the French version which can contain pretty much anything. I believe that this is because the Italian version relies heavily on superb ingredients, including very good tinned Italian plum tomatoes, so I decided to opt for the French. I used some onion, celery and garlic in my base, sweated down with olive oil and I added some wild dried Oregano. The results where certainly good enough for this week’s recipe of Turlu Turlu. This is a sort of Turkish Ratatouille, and just the sort of recipe I love. It literally means hotchpotch and can incorporate any number of different vegetables mixed with chickpeas, tomato sauce and lots of herbs. It is a great use up dish and I had a whole array of vegetables in the bottom of my fridge, which all went in, including beetroot, parsnips, red onions, red peppers, courgettes, sweet potatoes, fennel and carrots and of course, the tomatoes. But you could have added potatoes, squash, green peppers, cauliflower, aubergine or any other vegetable you have to hand.

veg for Turlu Turlu

This recipe seems a little more complicated than it is, but only because I insist on separating the vegetables up which cook better on their own. They need a lot of room and different times and this way, all your vegetables are perfectly roasted. It is worth the effort.

As for my tomato sauce – I am not sure it was good enough to just serve on its own with pasta but I will keep working on it and let you know how I get on.

Turlu Turlu 2

Turlu Turlu
Serves 4
1 red onions, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded, and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 head fennel, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
A few beetroot, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
3 courgettes, cut into 1cm slices, slightly on the diagonal
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste

For the sauce
6 Large ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely sliced

1 tin chickpeas, drained
Freshly chopped coriander
Freshly chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Toss the red onion and red pepper with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the fennel with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, making sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. Combine the root vegetables – parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato. Toss with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the courgettes with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, make sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. You will have to check your veg regularly, and rotate veg to ensure even cooking, When your veg are cooked and a little caramelised remove them. Each tray will slightly different time. Meanwhile make your sauce. Sauté the onion and celery slowly in plenty of olive oil, for a s long as possible. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Cut a small cross in the top of your tomatoes. Add them to the pan of boiling water and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the skins begin to come away. Remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Remove the skins and roughly chop. Add the garlic to the onions and fry a minute more before adding the tomatoes. Cook down gently until the tomatoes have completely dissolved, Season with salt and pepper and oregano. Puree with a hand blender.

Just before your final tray of veg is ready, add the chickpeas and tomato sauce to the tray and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Then remove and add all your veg together. Stir gently to avoid mushing up the veg. Allow to cool slightly before adding your herbs. Serve warm or room temperature.

Turlu Turlu 3