Cheesy Middle Meatballs Recipe

This sauce is the base for so many things I can’t even tell you! If you have the time to let it reduce for hours, then do. Top it up with water if you need to and stick any veg you’ve got lying around in it.  They go so soft and delicious, it’s hard telling exactly what’s in there so it’s perfect for fussy eaters.

The meatballs themselves are deliberately plain to let the sauce do the talking but you could easily spice them up by adding herbs or whatever you fancy. A nice variation is to use pork mince with some chopped sage running through. I’ve said it to serve 4 but with the hungry eaters in our house it usually only makes it to 2 or 3 so adjust as necessary but this amount makes about 14 large meatballs. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

Olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

3 garlic cloved, crushed

300g mushrooms, quartered

3 tbsp mixed herbs

splodge of tomato puree

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 glass red wine

splashes of Wocestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar

1 chicken stock cube

 

For the meatballs:

1 kg lean minced beef

1 pack mini mozzarella balls

1 egg

3 tbsp breadcrumbs

salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

1.   Sweat off the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and herbs and cook for a couple more minutes.

2.   Add everything else including the crumbled stock cube and leave to bubble for as long as you can (1-2 hours is best).

3.   For the meatballs, squidge together the mince, breadcrumbs, egg and seasoning. Push a blob flat in your palm and stick a mozzarella ball in the middle. Close the mince around it making sure there are no gaps.

4.   Cook in the sauce for 10-15 minutes and serve with spaghetti or rice!

3 Cheese Pasta Bake Recipe

Originally when creating this recipe, I used mascarpone in the sauce too, however having made for a few big dinners in our house and not having any to hand I’ve since decided it’s actually better without! We love cheese at ours and even thought mascarpone is delicious, I think it sort of masked the flavours of the cheddar and Parmesan. So, ignore the scoop of mascarpone in the video and enjoy this utter cheese fest in all its glory. This serves about 8 as it’s so rich, so definitely serve it alongside a fresh green salad to cut through the creaminess! 

Ingredients:

500g any pasta

100g butter

100g plain flour

100ml milk

500g grated cheddar

200g grated Parmesan, plus 100g

2 balls mozzarella

2 cups breadcrumbs

150g frozen peas

1 pack streaky bacon / lardons

 

Recipe:

1.  Pop your pasta in salted water to cook for 10 mins (definitely al dente as it’ll continue cooking in its sauce). Drain and toss in olive oil.

2.  In a large pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook out for 3 minutes. Slowly add milk and beat to create a smooth white sauce.

3.   Stir in the cheddar until smooth again and then add the 200g Parmesan and the mozzarella. Stir until melted and gooey and great.

4.   Chop up the bacon and cook off until crispy. Add the peas and then stir through the sauce. Add the pasta and tip into a large baking dish.

5.  Stir the 100g Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and scatter over the top. Bake in a 200c oven for 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden.

Gnocchi with Kale Pesto Recipe

Gnocchi is one of those things that just soaks up flavour- much like its main ingredient, potato! It can have yummy sauces added it to it, like this take on pesto or it can itself be flavoured. A favourite autumn lunch of mine is gnocchi made with some mashed steamed squash or pumpkin and a simple brown butter and sage ‘sauce’ (literally just brown some butter and crisp up some sage in it…). Pesto is another super easy sauce to jazz up to your tastes. I’ve used kale here for a lovely bitter note but just as easily you could use spinach or any other leafy greens- I’ve been known to use carrot tops before! Whizz it up as smooth as you like but a bit of texture always add to the dish.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 kg baking potatoes

salt and pepper

1 egg

300 g plain flour

 

For the pesto:

85 g toasted pine nuts

85 g Parmesan (or veg alternative)

3 garlic cloves

75 ml olive oil

85 g kale

zest and juice of 1 lemon

 

Recipe:

1.   Spike the potatoes all round, wrap in kitchen paper and microwave for 10 minutes.

2.   Cut in half and remove the flesh into a bowl. Add the flour and seasoning. Stir through and leave to cool for a few minutes then squidge in the egg to make a dough.

3.   Roll into balls. Leave in the fridge to harden up slightly while you make the pesto.

4.   Blend everything for the pesto together until smooth.

5.   Cook the gnocchi in salted water until they float to the top.

6.   Stir through the pesto until warm. Serve!

Red Pepper Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

Day-before prep for lunches is the best way to stop yourself spending £8 at Pret (no matter how good their sarnies are…) every day and then wondering why you’ve got no wine money at the end of the week. It can be hard to fit in when you get home and all you want to do is continue whatever box set you’re currently 3 seasons deep into but this one can be done in a flash. You can make a few for the week on a Sunday if you’re super organised and keep it all in the fridge until you’re ready to layer up and go! This easy red pepper pesto is full of flavour and if you choose a wholegrain pasta you’ll be full all afternoon in preparation for that marathon watching when you get in…

Serves 1

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

Jar of red peppers

75g unsalted cashews

bunch of parsley

1 garlic clove

50g Parmesan, grated

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

 

75g any pasta, cooked and tossed in olive oil

+ anything else you fancy, make it colourful!

 

Recipe:

1.   Stick everything for the pesto in a food processor and blend until smooth.

2.   Stir through the pasta and pop in the bottom of the jar.

3.   Layer up! Add one of spinach, sliced cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls.

4.   Stick it all in a bowl and smush round for deliciousness!