Kale, asparagus and mascarpone pasta

Grab some great fresh ingredients, add a sprinkle of time and hey presto, you have dinner! Use the best produce you can afford and your reward is a delicious savoury pasta that will please everyone. You can also use chicken instead of the ham if you prefer and it is just as tasty.

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Ingredients- serves 2
Glug of oil
1 shallot- finely sliced or chopped
1 clove of garlic- grated
1 red chilli- finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets- drained from their oil and finely chopped
200g conchiglie (shells)
150-200g fresh kale- stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
Small pack asparagus- large stems halved
50g parma ham or similar- sliced
4 tbsp mascarpone
Juice from half a fresh lemon
30g Parmesan cheese- grated

1. Start off by boiling a pan of water ready for the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions. When the pasta is 4 minutes from being ready, add the kale before draining well. Meanwhile get going with the sauce by grabbing a large frying pan, heating the oil over a medium heat and frying the shallot, garlic and chilli for one minute. Next up goes the sliced anchovy which will add a savoury hit. Stir well to ensure that the fillets break down.

2. Stir in the asparagus and ham to fry off so it begins to soften (or it is also delicious with a bit more crunch still if you prefer). Lower the temperature and add in the mascarpone and stir well to combine. Add the drained pasta and kale before giving a good squeeze of lemon juice and a grating of parmesan to finish. Serve immediately in warmed bowls and enjoy!

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Chicken, asparagus and pesto pasta bake

After a long day at work you want to come home to a warming meal which is quick and delicious. Look no further! Grab your shopping list and get going!

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
40g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
250ml milk
200ml double cream
Half a jar of basil pesto
50g parmesan- grated
3-4 skinless chicken breast fillets- cut into 2 cm slices/ chunks
1 garlic clove- crushed
400g penne pasta
100g asparagus tips
Small pack of cherry tomatoes- halved
50g white breadcrumbs- I used panko crumbs

1. Start by making the sauce and melt the butter and flour together over a medium heat to make a roux. When this is combined gradually add the milk and double cream- remember to keep stirring to avoid lumps but if you do spot a lump simply take the pan off the heat and stir until the lumps go. Simmer the sauce until it thickens before adding half of the parmesan, pesto and seasoning.

2. Heat a pan of water and cook the pasta until al dente before draining well and setting aside. The pasta will soften further in the oven when it bakes so don’t be tempted to over cook it now! In a frying pan heat a splash of oil and brown off the chicken pieces and a crushed clove of garlic. Add the asparagus tips and cook in the pan with the chicken until they start to soften.

3. Add the chicken mixture to the sauce base and pour over the pasta. The pasta needs to be put into an ovenproof baking dish and place the tomatoes into the pasta. Mix the remaining parmesan with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top before baking at 180c/ 160 fan until golden and bubbling. You could also use mozzarella and parmesan as the topping if you prefer not to use breadcrumbs. I use panko breadcrumbs (a Japanese style crumb) as it gives a really crispy finish which you don’t always get with normal crumbs. Serve in warmed bowls with a simple side salad. Any leftovers will also make a delicious lunch the next day.

Chicken, asparagus and pesto bake- a new favourite to add to your midweek meal list!