Courgetti bolognese 

   
So the craze of using a julienne peeler to make courgette spaghetti is upon us! We decided to give it ago and see what all the fuss is about. Although people say treat it like pasta, with any type of sauce you want you still can’t prepare it in the same way. Firstly I made the mistake of adding the courgette into a hot puttanesca sauce as you would pasta. The result was an ok tasting, watery bowl of veg.

So I decided to make a nice ragù and then cook the courgettes separately on a high heat for very little time. I then done the one thing you don’t do with pasta add the sauce on top of the noodles! However this worked out perfectly with the courgettes! I will say it doesn’t replace pasta in any way but it’s a much healthier alternative for me and it’s fun to make too! So here our version….enjoy.

Ingredients, serves 2-3

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

3 large mushrooms, finely diced

250g beef mince

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 bay leaf 

1 Sprig Rosemary

5 tablespoons tomato purée

1 chicken stock cube

1 glass red wine

3 large courgettes

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper, to season

Boiling water

Parmesan, to garnish

Method

In a large pan on a medium heat add the olive oil and sauté the onion, carrot and mushrooms until soft. Add the diced garlic cloves and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the mince until brown then add the tomato purée. Stir for a second then add the stock cube, wine and add enough boiling water until it’s just covered. Add the bay and Rosemary.

Let it simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile using a julienne peeler peel the courgettes into thin spaghetti strips. Place on a place and cover with kitchen paper to soak out some water for 15-20 minutes ( this is not necessary but helps with excess water ).

At this point taste your ragù, add salt and pepper if necessary. You can top up with more water or wine if it’s drying out a little. I like to cook my ragù for at least 50 minutes but the longer the better, it’ll only get richer in flavour.

Now when the sauce is ready. Put a large clean pan on a medium-high heat. Add a tbsp olive oil then add the courgetti. Fry for 2-3 minutes while stirring to make sure they all get slightly cooked. Now all that is left to do is plate up. Place the courgetti in bowls followed by a few lovely spoons of ragù. Top with Parmesan and enjoy! 

  

Smoked pancetta & Blue-Sticks Blue Mac n’ Cheese

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This is the ultimate comfort food. There’s many times I get that craving for mac and cheese. Especially when it’s been a cold or hectic day and you just want to chill on the couch with a nice big bowl of something comforting, delicious and of course cheesy! There has been times when the thought of a lovely, oozing, cheesy bowl of this gorgeous pasta has been rather exaggerated in my head and I’m then let down by the lack of cheesiness but not this one! This dish was a last minute, use up things I have in the fridge kind of dinner and I’m so glad I had that tangy, strong blue cheese to use up in the fridge, Blue-sticks Blue. It really made this mac and cheese unbelievably delicious…you really need to try it!

350g lumaconi pasta or any shape you prefer
100g smoked pancetta
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g blue stick blue cheese
60g strong cheddar cheese
500ml milk
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to season

Firstly put a large pot on water on and bring to the boil. Meanwhile in a small saucepan add a tsp olive oil and then the pancetta and brown slightly. When it’s starting to brown add the garlic and continue to fry for a minute before placing on a plate and set aside. Now add your pasta to the water. In the same saucepan you cooked the pancetta in add a knob of butter on a low heat. Once melted add your flour and stir together until it becomes a thick paste. Cook for a minute before adding the milk, stirring with a whisk constantly to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until it has thickened then add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg, 3/4 pancetta and garlic, cheddar and 3/4 blue cheese. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and add back into the pot. Now pour over the cheese sauce and mix together thoroughly before transferring into a baking tray. Top the cheesy pasta with the remaining pancetta and blue cheese then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a high grill for a few seconds until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs had browned. Serve and enjoy!
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