pasta

Bacon + egg carbonara

I mean, the combination of bacon and egg can’t really go wrong, can it?

And combined with delicious, silky pasta …. ?

The secret to all good pasta dishes is not to have them all dried out - just reserve some of that pasta cooking water to add to give it all a little ease, a little slippery glossiness, to make it all just work so much better.

I’ve seen - and tried - my fair share of carbonara recipes …. and find so many so over-complicated.

Some mix the egg with parmesan cheese, seasoning and cream, or even tangy creme fraiche (wrong in this dish in my opinion).

Some use whole eggs, not just the yolk, some use butter.

This is my own favourite go-to quick, easy and delicious - and simple - carbonara recipe.

I made this huge pile of pasta just for me (I don’t eat pasta that often because when I do, I eat GINORMOUS portions of it!) but it would probably feed two - or definitely will do with a little tweaking.

Go with what feels good to you, this is a very instinctive sort of dish, and all the more beautiful for it I think.

You’ll need:

cooked pasta - as much as you want - spaghetti or tagliatelle is traditional, but have whatever you like

a couple of slices of bacon - streaky is good and I believe it’s more authentic to have non-smoked, but I like smoked bacon in this so I have smoked back bacon (and remove as much fat as possible)

a clove of garlic (I know I ‘should’ really squash it and add to the oil and then remove later, but I really love garlic so I crush and mince and leave it all in)

a good slosh of olive oil

a tablespoon or so of finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve

one egg yolk (and hurrah I now have an egg white to make lemon vodka sour cocktails later!)

a handful of spinach (if liked)

lots of freshly ground black pepper

Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara
cheese.JPG

Get everything ready, cook the pasta, dice the bacon, mince the garlic.

And then just put a slosh of olive oil into a non-stick pan and add the bacon and garlic and cook for four minutes or so, stirring all the time, until done - add a splash of water (some of the pasta cooking water you’ve reserved is ideal) if it looks like it’s going to stick or burn.

Tip in the pasta and a good spoonful or two of the cooking water and most of the grated parmesan and stir to combine until everything’s mixed and hot through.

Add the egg yolk and stir thoroughly to mix it in and combine everything together and then had a handful of baby spinach leaves if liked.

Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara
Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara

Taste and season with salt and pepper - it probably won’t need salt as bacon is salty but I do love some added freshly ground black pepper.

So simple and so very, very (very) good.

Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara
Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara

Oh and if you love the bacon and eggs combo too, you might like my ‘island-style bacon and eggs’ or to try a beautiful bacon and egg pie



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Prawn, tomato, rocket // easy summery pasta

Simplest summer pasta.

I used to make this all the time, then somehow forgot about it and my sister recently reminded me of it as she'd made it (it was a recipe of hers originally I think).

Quantities are vague really, it doesn't really matter (except what tastes good to you) but for two people, I used:

cooking oil (I use a spray oil)

1 small white onion (finely diced)

1 clove garlic (squashed and minced)

1 red chilli, diced

1/3 chicken stock cube (I always use Knorr)

Water

A glass of white wine

2 ripe tomates, core removed and diced

King prawns - I had these lovely head-and-tail-on jumbo prawns and used four for each person - but any large prawns will be good

A couple of handfuls of rocket

Cooked pasta, to serve (I make this first and add at the end but you might prefer to time it so it all comes together! I also use gluten-free but of course just use your own favourite)

 
Prawn tomato rocket pasta Rachel Redlaw
 

Put a frying pan over a medium/low heat and add a tablespoon of cooking oil, or a few sprays of oil, if you're using a spray oil (if you are, you may well need a little splash of water too to stop the ingredients sticking so just add a little as needed).

Cook the onion, garlic and chilli slowing until softened - this always takes longer than I think (anywhere up to ten minutes).  Keep stirring to stop it sticking and add a little water if it looks like it will.

Crumble in the piece of stock cube, a slosh of water, and the wine and bring to a simmer.

Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes - it should be good and juicy so add another slosh of water if it needs loosening at all.

Add the prawns to the simmering mixture and cook for a few minutes until either hot through (if the prawns are already cooked) or until the grey raw prawns are completely pink and cooked.

Add the rocket and immediately turn off the heat but keep stirring to wilt the rocket.

Rachel Redlaw summer prawn, tomato, rocket pasta
Rachel Redlaw summer prawn, tomato, rocket pasta
Rachel Redlaw summer prawn, tomato, rocket pasta

You can serve with the pasta or - as I usually do - add the cooked pasta to the pan to re-heat as it'll be slightly cooled if cooked earlier, and stir to combine.

Season to taste and enjoy! 

 
Rachel Redlaw prawn tomato rocket pasta
 

There's something very elegant about the simplicity of this dish - as in fact with my other favourite summer pasta with prawns + lemon.

Hope you love them too.


 

 

Thai-inspired meatballs + rice noodles

Some dishes are prettier than others and this isn't a very pretty one.

But it tastes MUCH better than it looks and it's really simple (as always) too - so do give it a try.

I made it with beef mince as that's what I had in the fridge, but pork and chicken would both be good and change it up a bit.

Also, I used lovely fresh rice noodles as I'd been to the Thai supermarket and these are my favourites, but dried rice noodles are good, or you could have the meatballs with rice, or even with pasta. All going to be good! Prepare your noodles or rice first so it's all ready to go.

So, for meatballs for one, I used: 

approx 100g mince

half a carrot, shredded and diced

a little piece of ginger, diced

1 birds eye red chilli, also diced

(If I'd had parsley, I'd have added a small handful of that too, finely chopped)

one little lime leaf that was in the salad drawer - I just removed the stalk and chopped the leaf into very fine slices and diced. If you don't have lime leaves, then I'd grate some lime zest in

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and then scrunch it all up to combine and shape into little meatballs.

Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs

Then prepare the sauce ingredients.  

You'll need:

1/2 cup boiling water with about 1/3 of a knorr stock cube (I used chicken)

another little piece of ginger, diced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 birds eye red chilli, finely chopped (use just half if you don't want it too spicy of course)

2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal to look nice

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

 
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
 

And then you just put a frying pan over a heat and either add a tablespoon of cooking oil or, if you're losing weight like me, 20 sprays of that 1-cal-per-spray cooking oil and put the meatballs in.

Keep turning until they're browned all over and if using the spray oil, you'll probably need to add a splash of water too. It takes a few minutes.

When browned, add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for a few seconds, then tip in the stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook for around 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, fish sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs

Cook for another minute or so, tasting to check you're happy with the balance of flavours, and that's it. 

Ready to serve!

Some parsley or coriander, chopped and scattered over, might have looked nice, but I didn't have any ...

Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs


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Stilton & spinach pasta

The Christmas and festive period has finished and I've been back at work three days.  All the chocolates have been eaten and the Port has been drunk.  

But there's still a fairly good-sized piece of Stilton lurking in the fridge and I neither want to throw it away nor eat it on yet more biscuits (or on celery of course which is actually my favourite cheese carrier.  Is carrier the right word?).

So, stilton and spinach pasta it is and it's very good and super simple too. 

It's also quite rich - as it would be - so I made a quick and easy salad of just fresh little gem lettuce leaves and a mustardy dressing to go with it.  I have salad at most meals and this is my favourite dressing.  

I make it one day then pop it in the fridge and just add to it the next day - it keeps going for about a week before I tip the last bits away, wash out the glass and start again. In the summer this never-ending dressing goes beautifully with tomato and onion salad.

For the dressing just put a couple of sloshes of olive oil in a glass, jar or mug and a good slosh of white or wine or rice vinegar.  Peel and squash a garlic clove and throw that in and then stir in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Taste and see if you need more oil or more vinegar to get the balance right for you. 

Put the lettuce leaves in a bowl, spoon on some dressing, add black pepper and a very little salt and that's the salad done.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Cook as much pasta as you like and while it's cooking, you can start the sauce. You will need the pasta cooked and drained to add to the sauce near the end of cooking.

For two, I had: 

light olive oil for frying

1/2 a white onion, sliced very finely 

creme fraiche (I used half fat), a couple of tablespoons

the piece of Stilton (it weighed about 80g)

2 big handfuls of spinach (about 100g)

black pepper to taste

 
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
 

I fried the onion in the olive oil for about five or six minutes until soft and golden - and I added a spoonful of boiling water from the pasta pan when it looked like it was about to stick and maybe burn.

When soft, add the creme fraiche and stir in then crumble in the Stilton and cook on a low heat until the cheese melts.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Add the cooked, drained pasta and the spinach and stir in for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Tip into a serving dish and add some black pepper to taste.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Let me know if you make this and please do share your own recipes and ideas for using up that Christmas cheeseboard ... 



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Summer roast tomatoes / roast tomato pasta

Tomatoes to me just smell of summer

I love the smell of them growing, of the stalks, of the green and ripe tomatoes both (and I'm looking forward to next weekend and having tomatoes straight from my parents' garden). 

Add oregano - and they smell like a Mediterranean summer

And roasting tomatoes with oregano has got to be one of the most languid and evocative cooking smells ever. 

So easy to do - but as with nearly everything very simple to make that relies on flavour, using the best tomatoes you can find is going to make all the difference.  I admit to just getting mine at the supermarket but I did get the tomatoes on the vine that actually smell of the fruit. 

Halve the tomatoes, cutting out the stalk if it looks a bit tough, and place on a baking tray.  Drizzle over extra-virgin olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and some dried oregano.  

Then roast in a low oven (Gas 4 / 170 degrees) for an hour.  

Rachel Walder The Tiniest Thai roast tomatoes with oregano

About half an in to the cooking time, they started SINGING with the smell of tomatoes and oregano, making my whole flat smell amazing!  

And that's it.  

Rachel Walder The Tiniest Thai roast tomatoes with oregano
Rachel Walder The Tiniest Thai roast tomatoes with oregano

Once cooked, you can use them as part of an antipasta platter, or the base of a tomato sauce for pasta or pizza.  Put them in pastry.  Have them on toast.  Eat them in a salad. Or even put them in a jar and give them as a gift. 

What I did was make a really simple pasta dish for dinner

In a frying pan I softened some chopped onion and a clove of chopped garlic over a low heat in a little olive oil, then added the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.  

No need to add extra seasoning as the tomatoes have so much flavour.  When they started to bubble I added some de-veined prawns, a few chilli flakes and some halved (and stoned) black olives.  

Right at the end, I threw in some fresh basil. 

When it was hot right through, I mixed it with pasta and served with a green salad and my favourite dressing of olive oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard. 

Rachel Walder The Tiniest Thai roast tomatoes with oregano

Tempted to make more today - they were so good!

Would love to hear what you make with roast tomatoes - do give them a try. 



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Pasta with lemon

Super-easy, super-quick lemon sauce for pasta and fittingly for today, a sunny day in June, it is sunshine on a plate. Best with long thin pasta like tagliatelle, spaghetti or linguine - but I make it with penne sometimes too.

A good lunch or easy supper, this goes well with a quick salad and it's also easy to add prawns or grilled chicken to make it more substantial. And lemon linguine alone makes an elegant first course.

My favourite sort-of-French-dressing uses:

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons white vinegar

1 garlic clove, skinned and squashed (not chopped)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Method (if you can call it that!) - put it all in a jar and shake, and add more of any dressing ingredient as needed to balance and until you're happy.

I put the jar into the fridge after using and every day just add more vinegar and/or oil as it gets more and more garlicky ...

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

The original recipe for the pasta with lemon is from Mireille Guiliano's 'French Women Don't Get Fat' and while her recipe serves four, this has been modified and serves two.

if adding prawns, I find it easiest to throw them in with the pasta for the last minute or two to heat or cook.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Make the sauce during the last few minutes of your pasta cooking, or when it's cooked, as it's very quick.

You'll need:

2 lemons

a good slosh of olive oil

around 100g-150g creme fraiche

approx 60g Parmesan

salt and pepper

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Grate the zest of the lemons and halve one of them so you have it ready to squeeze into the sauce and grate the cheese.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

In a saucepan, warm the olive oil and add the zest. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Add the creme fraiche and bring to the boil, then squeeze in the juice of one lemon and bring to the boil again.

The easiest way to juice a lemon is to squeeze a half over your closed hand so your fingers catch the pips.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the grated Parmesan, season to taste and cook for another minute.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Combine with the cooked pasta and serve immediately.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Yep, sunshine on a plate and super-quick too :)



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