Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chorizo and Cherry Tomato Pasta

Another absence this time due to family holidays.  Some fun times at home just relaxing along with a 5 day camping trip to Sheep Yard Flats nestled in the Howqua Hills Historical Area has made for an enjoyable January indeed. 

We are actually really enjoying pasta at the moment especially creating my own sauces.  Tonight a different flavour was required to excite the taste buds and they were definitely pleased with this dish.  I also love Chorizo (Spanish Sausage).  It is a spicy and somewhat smoky flavoured sausage. Chorizo is normally sold as a fresh sausage and therefore needs to be cooked before eating.  

This dish was filling and very tasty.  I minimized the overkill of a thick tomato pasta sauce by using cherry tomatoes which added a wonderful and visible texture to the meal.  Both hubby and I enjoyed the combination of the smoky sausage and the sweet tomato flavours which was definitely complimented by the fresh basil.  This wasn't a meaty dish as with normal pasta sauces but the bit size Chorizo pieces did not disappoint.

Chorizo and Cherry Tomato Pasta

Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 10

250 grams pasta of your choice
cooking spray
250 grams Chorizo sausage, sliced 5mm thick
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
410 gram tinned diced tomatoes
250 grams cherry tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely shredded plus addition leaves to garnish

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as per packet directions.  Drain.

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Cook Chorizo for 3 - 5 minutes or until slightly crispy.  Remove from pan onto a plate and set aside.

In the same pan add onion and garlic.  Cook for 3 - 5 minutes or until onion has softened.  Add tomato paste and white wine.  Cook stirring for a further 2 minutes and all is combined with no lumps of tomato paste.  Add cherry tomatoes and diced tomatoes.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Return Chorizo to the frying pan and add the pasta and shredded basil leaves.  Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through and pasta coated with the sauce.

Serve garnished with additional basil leaves and Parmesan cheese (add an extra 2 ProPoints per 20g of cheese).

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Barbecued Lamb and Vegetables

We are still cooking on the barbecue - probably will until the novelty wears off again this summer.  To be honest we don't use it enough or should I say we don't use it too it's full potential.  Really, a girl can only have so many sausages on the barbie!! If we continuously cook the same thing that's when I start thinking to myself that I am sooooo over barbecues!!

So with all that said, the challenge then is to keep barbecuing exciting and this recipe is a perfect example of not only an easy dish but a very flavoursome meal.  Right from the preparation stage and the aromas of the garlic and rosemary I knew we would all enjoy.

Barbecued Lamb and Vegetables
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Cook Easy Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 9

4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs to garnish
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 gram trimmed lamb fillet or backstrap
2 carrots halved lengthways, cut into 3 cm pieces
2 medium zucchini, thickly sliced
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 medium red capsicum, cut into 3cm pieces
cooking spray

Combine garlic, chopped rosemary and oil in a small bowl. Place half of the rosemary mixture in a shallow dish. Add lamb and turn to coat.

Steam, boil or microwave carrots until just tender.  Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Combine carrot, zucchini, onion, capsicum and eggplant in a large bowl. Add remaining rosemary mixture and toss to coat.

Heat an oil-sprayed chargrill or barbecue over medium-high heat. Chargrill lamb for 3–4 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Rest lamb for 10 minutes before slicing thickly.

Meanwhile, chargrill vegetables, turning occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until golden and tender. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add sliced lamb and rosemary sprigs and toss to combine. Serve.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Creamy Chicken, Bacon and Vegetable Pasta

Comfort food is needed at times and pasta is one of the ultimate in my book that is especially when it is accompanied with a nice creamy sauce.

I have never used cherry tomatoes in a creamy sauce before and will do again as they were a wonderful addition not to mention added character to the sauce.

This dish was delish, easy and very filling! The combination of chicken and bacon is always perfect combined with vegetables and fresh herbs enveloped in a delicate creamy sauce made for a not only fragrant but flavoursome dish.

Creamy Chicken, Bacon and Vegetable Pasta

Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 14

250 grams dried spaghetti pasta
cooking spray
500 gram chicken breast fillets (see note)
200 grams Weight Watchers or Reduced Fat Bacon
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
150 grams mushrooms, sliced
1 red capsicum, diced
250 grams cherry tomatoes
375ml can Carnation Light & Creamy Evaporated Milk
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornflour
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
200 grams baby spinach
50 grams finely grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain. Return to pan. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 5 to 7 minutes each side or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a board. Thinly slice. Cover to keep warm.

Heat remaining oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion has softened. Add mushrooms and capsicum and cook for a further 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes or until tomatoes have just softened. 

Combine evaporated milk with arrowroot or cornflour.  Add evaporated milk, thyme and chives. Season with pepper. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Add chicken, spinach and milk mixture to pasta. Toss to combine and served topped with Parmesan.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beef Tomato and Zucchini Kebabs with Chutney

Another night of balmy weather called for more barbecuing.... tonight with what my children have always fondly called "Meat on Sticks".

These marinated Beef, Tomato and Zucchini Kebabs were a breeze to prepare, cook and devour complimented with a sweet, slightly spicy chutney that screamed homemade... jar chutney is so boring.  The pungent spices used in the marinade surprisingly matched each other creating a really enjoyable flavour on the tender beef.

Served with Smashed Potatoes and a green salad - I would definitely recommend these at your next barbecue.....

Beef, Tomato and Zucchini Kebabs with Chutney
(recipe sourced from WW 1 Recipe 3 Ways Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 7

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 teaspoons olive oil
600 grams lean beef rump, fat trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
500 grams baby chat potatoes
cooking spray
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 small fresh birdseye chilli, deseeded if desired, finely chopped
400 gram can cherry tomatoes
2 small zucchini thickly sliced
8 cherry tomatoes

Place cumin, paprika, fennel, oregano, garlic and half the oil in a large glass or ceramic dish.  Add beef and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Celsius fan forced.  Lightly spray a baking tray with oil.  Boil, steam or microwave potatoes until tender.  Drain and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Using a potato masher gently press potatoes until lightly crushed.  Lightly spray with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a small suacepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add sugar, vinegar and chilli and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add canned tomatoes and bring to the boil.  reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until chutney is thick.

Thread beef, zucchini and fresh cherry tomatoes onto 8 wooden skewers (see note).  Preheat a chargrill or barbecue over medium high heat.  Lightly spray skewers with oil and cook, turning occasionally, for 3 - 4 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking.

Serve skewers with crushed potatoes and tomato chutney.

Note: Soak skewers in cold water for 10 minutes to stop them burning during cooking.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Crunchy Parmesan and Chive Baked Fish Fillets

Happy New Year to you all I hope that you have an enjoyable and safe one.  Best wishes to you and your families for 2013.
I don't make New Years' Resolution but one thing I have promised myself is that I cook more new recipes and definitely blog more! LOL it's like there is a void in me when I leave it too long in between posts especially when the subject is food.  I actually get excited when I sit down to post as I know that I am not only sharing a meal with you all but that you actually get pleasure out of reading all about it... I guess that's why we are called "Foodies", right?
So here goes my first A Dash Of Flavour blog post for 2013...
With the weather being seriously hot here in Melbourne these last few days cooking up feasts in the kitchen has be not really an option and I am sure that many barbecues around the State have been working in overdrive... ours has!  From the simple sausage in bread to tonight's feast I am surprised we haven't ran out of cooking gas yet.

This Crunchy Parmesan and Chive Baked Fish Fillets was very easy to prepare not to mention quite quick to cook.  Although the recipe cooks it in the oven we had no problems cooking in on the bbq with the hood closed.  The topping was crunchy and had a definite cheesy onion flavour from the seasoning.  The fillets we used were quite thick so once cooked they were tender and juicy while still remaining intact and holding the shape.

A definite winner for kids young and old......

Crunchy Parmesan and Chive Baked Fish Fillets
(recipe adapted from WW 1 Recipe 3 Ways Cookbook)
Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 9
4 x 200 gram firm white fish fillets 
3/4 cup (45 grams) Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon Weight Watchers Canola Spread, melted
freshly ground black pepper
2 Lebanese cucumbers, deseeded and finely sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, deseeded, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon water
lemon wedges to serve

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan forced.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and place fish on prepared tray.  

Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, chives and spread in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Press breadcrumb mixture onto fish.  Lightly spray with cooking spray.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through and topping is golden and crisp.

Meanwhile combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion and olives in a large bowl.  Toss gently to combine.  Whisk juice, oil, garlic, oregano and water in a small bowl or jug.  Add dressing to salad and toss gently to combine. 

Serve fish with salad and lemon wedges.