Way back when I didn’t cook – well career women didn’t – my idea of a cooked dinner was either a Marks & Spencer ready meal or, if I was feeling very adventurous, a pasta bake. And yes to my shame I used packet sauce – well I did add in the tuna and the sweetcorn and make the salad ;-) Actually thinking about it I feel sorry for my partner at the time – thankfully his Mother always invited us for Sunday lunch so he was guaranteed one decent meal a week!
Now thanks to Darina Allen, my time in Ballymaloe and in particular my friend Nicola, I can now make my own pasta bake . I promise no packet sauces have crossed my threshold for years :-)
This is a variation on my standby recipe and as such I have to apologise as all quantities are approximate. I know – this used to drive me mad when I was learning to cook and it’s taken me a long time to be confident with ‘a bit of this and a handful of that’. I blame it on my scientific background.
I also wanted to blog this today to help you use up any Christmas leftovers still lurking in your fridge before Twelfth Night. Last night’s supper was to use up mine before the new year’s resolutions kick in on Monday ………
So what do you do?
- Cook and drain some pasta – I estimated enough for 2. The general guideline is 75g dried pasta per person. I’d have preferred to use penne but hey, the choice was between fusilli or animal shapes. The fusilli won
- Sauté a shallot and some chopped peppers in a butter/oil mix. Add some chopped smoked salmon (I used 2 long slices) , a handful of frozen peas and somecapers.
- Cook for 2-3 mins then add a good glug of vermouth(or white wine if you’ve a bottle open). Allow to reduce for few minutes.
- Pour in cream (I had about half a large carton left , approx 250ml) and a teaspoon of my ‘secret’ ingredient - Ikea‘s dill mustard. Trust me you need a jar of this in your fridge!
- Then add in the cooked pasta and transfer the mix to a casserole dish.
- Top with panko breadcumbs and chunks ofcamembert.
- Bake for 15-20 mins at 170 C Fan until golden and bubbling.
- Serve with a nice big glass of wine……….and a green salad
Happy Cooking !
The health kick starts Monday I promise………… I’ll be researching recipes for my lighter cooking course which starts 14th January