My little boy is now eight months old and is a lovely, friendly smiling little boy most of the time (though we are teething at the moment so we have a lot of Jekyll/Hyde moments). I’ve recently found myself doing quite a lot of cooking that then gets pureed or mashed and frozen for him, but not so much cooking that involves trying new recipes for me.
However, I have been taking part in a cookbook club that I started with a few friends after we were inspired by this article (click here to read). What is a cookbook club? It is a group of friends (or a group of people who love to cook and/or eat) who meet up regularly to share food they have cooked. At each meeting, everyone brings along a dish cooked from the same cookbook (chosen in advance so you don’t replicate dishes). It is a great opportunity to try dishes you might otherwise not have cooked, as well as using the cookbooks you own (or discovering new ones). You also get to meet new people (friends of friends) who you already know have a shared interest in food, cooking and eating!
We decided that whoever is hosting the meeting gets to pick the book for that month. For our first meetup, it was Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. As I’ve said before, the meals in this book take a lot longer than 30 minutes to prepare. However, if you just chose one or two dishes (as we did for the first meeting), they are not as time consuming. I chose to make frangipane tarts and pear drop tartlets (making my own pastry rather than using prepared ones as the book suggests). While they were nice, I prefer the recipe I’ve previously used (click here for my frangipane recipe).
I did, however, discover a dish that I have since made a couple of times as it is a great, quick weeknight dinner, Jamie’s Trapani-style rigatoni. The only thing you need to cook is the pasta, and the sauce is prepared in the time it takes to cook the pasta. The most time consuming part was picking the basil leaves off the stem! The almonds make this filling and you could easily adapt it by adding cooked chicken or ham if you wanted to.
Jamie Oliver’s Trapani Style Rigatoni
Serves 4-6 (6 with a salad on the side)
- 500g dried pasta such as rigatoni (you could also use penne)
- 40g parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
- 100g whole blanched almonds
- 2 cloves of garlic – peeled
- 1-2 fresh red chillies (deseeded if you prefer less heat) – stalks removed and cut into a few pieces
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves plus extra to add when serving
- 4 anchovy fillets in oil (don’t be scared by this if you don’t like anchovies, you can’t taste them but they add a depth to the sauce)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or the oil from the anchovies)
- 500g cherry tomatoes – keep most whole and halve or quarter about 150g of the tomatoes to add when serving.
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fill a large saucepan (approximately ¾ full) with water and bring to the boil ready to cook the pasta (use the kettle to boil the water if you want to speed it up). Once boiling add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the water then cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, place the parmesan, almonds, garlic and chillies into a food processor and process until everything is cut fairly fine. Add the basil (saving a small amount to add when serving), anchovies, two thirds of the cherry tomatoes (whole) and the olive oil and process until it forms a chunky paste. If it is too thick, add a bit more oil or some of the water from the pasta. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of the cooking water and then drain the rest, returning it to the hot pan. Add the sauce and some cooking water to help it form a sauce.
- Serve topped with the remaining cherry tomatoes, basil and extra parmesan.
Adapted from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals – Trapani-style Rigatoni (also known as Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes). Click on the picture below to view:
Thanks to Nicole from our cookbook club, for permission to use the pictures of the savoury dishes from the day.