Category Archives: Rice and Pasta

Best Basic Spaghetti Sauce

Eeek, so I have just done the first of two races after having a mild injury. I have been wearing those great heated back patches, oh they are SO GOOD. The week before the race had been the longest of my life, I woke up every morning preying that the first step I took wont leave this weird rushing sensation in my foot. The foot injury led a distinct tightness in my lower back, which I got loosened by the sports masseuse, and it felt amazing. The race was SO fun. I went to Edinburgh with my cross country club and we had such a laugh, the course was extremely muddy. I took it slightly easier for fear of hurting my foot, that was hard cos I just wanted to pelt myself down the hills, but had to hold back to make sure I didn’t put too much force up on my foot. I’ve got my first 10k on Sunday, it’s a shame cos I don’t think I’ll do the best time cos my training’s been crap and I expect my foot might still be twinging, but oh well.

Anyway, the reason for having this pasta recipe is because I always have pasta before a race. I’m not a fan of pasta, and it may be the inner dietress in me, or maybe it’s my aversion to boring foodstuff, but hey IT HAS TO BE DONE.

In order for me to enjoy eating this, I have to make it healthy. It has to be really full of flavour and anti-oxidants, and the pasta has to be wholegrain obviously. This meal is also good cos it’s easy. You can make the sauce in the time that your pasta is cooking, but to be honest the longer you leave it cooking the nice more time the flavours have to mature.

Ingredients-4 servings of pasta sauce

-Olive oil

-1 white onion, peeled and chopped

-1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped

-1 carrot, peel and chopped

-1 courgette grated

-1 tin of black eyed beans drained

-2tsp salt, herbs and spices

-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

-1 tin chopped tomatoes


Heat the oil in saucepan, and added the carrot, onion and garlic. Add salt to stop the onions from sticking to the surface and cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft, stirring from time to time.

-Once soft, add the remaining ingredients and leave to cook for about half an hour. Stirring often, make sure it doesn’t boil too much.

-Serve with pasta, preferably wholegrain. EASY.

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Filed under Pulses, Quick, Rice and Pasta, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

Thrifty’s Courgette Risotto for One

If you enjoy, as Nigella calls it, ‘the solace of stirring’, then you’ll love making risotto. It’s salty, creamy and requires a lot of stirring. But just get a newspaper, or a JSTOR article, and just keep on going. Risotto is ridiculously maleable, so please replace courgette with whatever you want, chicken, sausage, mushroom, peas, beans. And if you don’t want to buy parmesan, just use cheddar instead.

I always was a bit daunted with making risotto, but fear not-it’s stoopid easy, just buy the right kind of rice and you’re already 3/4 the way there. I just spent a month in Italy, so making things like risotto is like eating nostalgia.

In other news, I’m having a lot of trouble with photographing my work in my new house. Bad lighting and bad lens means I can’t get what I’m looking for. I’ve been trying very hard with the post-production but’s it’s not coming out how I want. Any suggestions?


-1 tbsp olive oil

-1 tbsp butter

-1 red onion

-1 clove of garlic

-1 courgette or whatever you want-see above for ideas

-1/4 cup of arborio rice

-around one litre of vegetable or chicken stock

-1 dessert spoon of parmesan, or grated cheddar, plus extra for serving.

-1 tsp salt

-2 tsp dried basil and any other green herbage you have.

-1 tsp green pesto(optional)


Chop up the onion, garlic and the courgette(into coins) and fry lightly in the oil and the butter, and soften. This should take about 5 minutes.

-Add the rice, if using meat, make sure it is cooked in the oil before adding the rice and make sure the grains are covered in the oily buttery-ness. Once they are covered, start by adding a generous swig of stock, continuing to stir the mixture. You should move it to a lower heat now.

-Once the rice has absorbed that stock, add another helping of stock, and continue to stir the mixture from time to time until the rice has absorbed all the water. Don’t get the impression that you have to stand there stirring maniacally, but just make sure you keep your eye on the mixture.

-Keep on repeating the process of adding stock and stirring, until the rice has soften and is edible.The whole thing should take about 30-40 minutes. Try to not to add too much stock.

-By the time the rice is beginning to soften, add the cheese and pesto.

-Serve with more cheese.





Filed under Italian, Rice and Pasta, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

Back-to-School Pasta and Pesto

This is such a staple, and it was done perfectly. Pasta and pesto, the posh way. After a bit of trials and tribulations with the pasta machine, and then the food processor, this came out and we were very happy. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can easily do it the manual way, but it might be a bit of an effort, and in such a case you’re probably better of just making the pesto.

In other worlds, my food processor keeps on not working, any suggestions? Also, just moved into the new house, with my camera but without my dad’s macro lenses so I feel a bit deprived but I feel the photo has turned out okay.



-2 cups of plain flour

-2 eggs

-1 tsp salt


-a lot of basil, about 2 cups

-1/2 cup of olive oil

-1/4 cup of grated parmesan

-2 tbsp pine nuts

-1 tsp salt

-1 clove of garlic


-For the pasta, either mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a fork until it forms into a ball, using your fingers to make sure the mixture is combined and the dough has turned silky and firm. If you have a food processor, process all the ingredients until one ball has formed in the food processor. Either way, leave the dough in a cool place for an hour.

-For the pesto, whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until it looks like pesto!

-Follow the machines on your pasta machine to form tagliatelle, or if by hand, roll out the dough to about 1-2mm thickness, and cut into shreds. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 minutes, and there you go!


Filed under Cheese, Italian, Rice and Pasta, Vegetarian

Meat-LESS flavour-FULL Chilli

When I was first a vegetarian, I thought that if you add substitute meats it would not taste different. I thought it would be like nothing had ever happened…like the companies make you believe. Well they were wrong, I spent a lot of my time buying sachets of spaghetti bolognese and chilli spice mix because my food just tasted bland and depressing. I should have realised that vegetarian chilli tastes better without fake meat, and bolognese tastes better with lentils. So the secret to flavourful veggie chilli? No substitute meats, and lots of pulses which absorb all the flavour.

And the secret to cheap chilli? The world food aisle. I was so happy when I went into Tesco’s and they had a special aisle for, I think, the Hindu festival of chariots. Lots of cheap chopped tomatoes, curry spices etc. But venture in to the world food aisle for black beans, jerk spices and cheap fizzy drinks!


1 carrot

-1 onion

-1 clove of garlic

-1 sweet potato peeled and chopped

-200g can of sweet corn

-1x 400g can of black beans

-1 can of chopped tomatoes

-1 tbsp cornflour

-2 tsp Cumin, Coriander, Paprika and 1 tsp cocoa powder


-Place the sweet potato in a pot and cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until they are soft. Drain.

-While these are boiling you can chop up your onion, carrot and garlic and fry in a casserole dish with a little bit of oil. Add some salt.

-Add the sweet potato and seal the edges.

-Add the remaining ingredients apart from the cornflour and bring to the boil. When the sauce begins to thicken add the cornflour. Leave the chilli to cook for an hour and serve with all your favourite Mexican garnishes!


Filed under Mexican, Pulses, Rice and Pasta, Vegan, Vegetarian

Surprise Bolognese

You wont believe what I, or what my mum years ago, put in that makes this bolognese take on a whole new form. And you cook it differently too, adding the pasta in with the sauce and letting it cook for a bit too. Like I mention a lot of times, I’m actually a vegetarian, but I like to cook for my dad and this one doesn’t seem to fail. So the secret ingredient is baked beans, it sounds fine doesn’t it? It makes sense, and I remember in  my meat-eating days how nice it was. Here’s how you do it.


800g beef mince

-1 onion, 1 carrot and 2 cloves of garlic all chopped.

-1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

-1 x 410g tin of baked beans

-Some tomato puree

-Any thing that makes your spag bol special, I think lea and perrins, mustard and oxo cubes all work well.

-200g dried pasta, then cooked. Any shape or form that you like.


-Fry and sauté the chopped onion, carrot and garlic to some oil in a big saucepan and cook for 5-10 mins until brown.

-Add the mince and cook in the pan until the meat has turned brown.

-Add chopped tomatoes, any flavourings that you like and finally the baked beans.

-Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the pasta. Stir really thoroughly until you can see that all the pasta has accessed the sauce. Add a bit of hot water if it is looking dry.

-Leave to cook for about 20 minutes covered.

-What makes it nicer is if you top it with some tears of bread and grated cheese and bake uncovered in the oven for 2o minutes.


Filed under Italian, Meat, Rice and Pasta

Easter Carnivore Meatball Special

No, I haven’t converted. I’m at home for Easter, meaning I’m living with the only remaining meat-eater in my family of five. I’m not that fussed about cooking meat meals, I’ll cook anything. There is a ridiculous amount of mince in my house, so instead of cooking bolognese or chilli con carne, I made these, cos I know they’re a treat for my dad. They are not THAT much work, but I’m saying that in retrospect cos this isn’t the first time I’ve made them. But give it a go, they taste good (said from memory of my meat-eating days). As a cheat, you can just make your meatballs and put them in a jar of pasta sauce, but I made my own. This is thrifty, seeing as most meat-eaters tend to have mince as a staple (use pork mince if you like), eggs, bread, pasta, chopped tomatoes etc. The one thing which might be an investment is parmesan, but you can just add finely grated cheddar instead. Anyway, here you go!


Tomato sauce

2 x can of chopped tomatoes (400g)

-1 onion

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 tsp of sugar

-mixed herbs

-1 stick of celery (optional)


-500g beef mince

-1-2 Eggs

-2 tbsp of grated parmesan

-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (I used semolina)

-mixed herbs, OR just parsley

-1 clove of garlic

-1 tsp of English mustard (optional)

-salt and pepper



-Chop up onions, garlic and celery. Fry these up in a big pan  until soft.

-Add chopped tomatoes, then fill up each of these cans with water half way and pour into the pan, this waters down the mixture so it’s not too rich and gets the remainder of the chopped tomatoes into the sauce. Add sugar and herbs. Leave on a low heat to simmer.

-Okay, get all your childish laughter out the way now(there are references to balls)…

-Now the meatballs. Add everything (just 1 egg at first) into a bowl and stir really, really well. Make it all mushy. If you find it’s not combining well, add another egg. You need the mixture to be moist or it will crumble when you fry them. MIX WELL to make sure the egg has been spread throughout the whole mixture.

-Make your balls. Get a teaspoon and take a heaped pile of the mixture, then roll with your hands until it’s a ball. The mixture could make up to 20 balls, perhaps more ‘cos I tend to lose count. I had loads of balls left over, I froze these balls so one can fry them at a later date.

-Now fry them in about a tablespoon of oil in the biggest frying pan you have. People forget that beef mince has a lot of fat in it, so you don’t need tonnes of oil because the beef can fry in its own juices. (TIP When I make bolognese I never use oil to fry the mince).

-The frying will take a bit of time, and should be done in batches. Remember to brown the entirety of the meatball. It can get a bit messy. To check your ball is done, it should be brown on the outside and when you touch it, it should be really firm. Once a  ball is done, add it to your tomato sauce and add another meatball to the frying pan.

-You don’t want the sauce to be jam packed full of meatballs, so, like I said, freeze some of the meatballs to use at a later time.

-Let it simmer for a bit so the juices from the meat can go into the tomato sauce. Serve with bread, spaghetti or rice.


Filed under Italian, Meat, Rice and Pasta

My Personal Jamabalaya

I’m not sure if this is a “jamabalaya”, but it has rice and tomatoes and spices and Quorn chicken pieces. and it’s nice. Sorry about the awful photo, but I have a bad camera, hopefully I can get a better one soon. The rice is cooked in the tomatoes so they have more flavour. (New name: nice rice?). It’s also quite BASIC and without wanting to sound like a cookbook, uses up all the “leftovers in the cupboard”. I’m gonna make pasta sauce with the leftovers of this meal. cos I’m using quite awkward measurements. Alternatively, don’t use halfs and put the left overs in the fridge/freezer.

Ingredients(will probably leave leftovers)

-1/2 a mug of rice

-1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes

-a mug of cold water

– 1/3 of courgette

-Quorn/real chicken pieces

-1/2 or so of drained beans (I chose barlotti)

-Lots of spices that you want to add (mixed herbs and sugar are a necessity)

-Cheese if you like cheese. I love cheese.


-Put tomatoes, water and rice in a saucepan and turn on a medium-high heat. It should start boiling, make sure you keep on stirring it so the rice is moved around.

-Meanwhile, fry chicken/Quorn with the courgetters and some spices. I use this Schwartz spice, it’s really nice , tastes like crisps.

-Right now the rice should slowly be absorbing the tomatoes and water, add some sugar, spices, HERBS.

-Give the rice a try, if it seems like it’s still hard but the water is quickly being absorbed, add some more water, perhaps 1/2 a mug-full.

-You can, at this point, add your chicken pieces and beans to the mix. Stir the mixture.

-Keep on testing your rice, if it is cooked and all the liquid is absorbed, then serve with some feta/cheddar (obviously I had a bit of both).

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Filed under Quick, Rice and Pasta, Store Cupboard, Vegetarian

Comfort Curry

Made with potatoes AND eaten with rice, I hate to sound like a cliché, but this is the best meal when hungover. Or moody. Or happy. Or hungry. I gave this to a friend when I was all four, and it was so good. She decided to bring some yoghurt which was really good with it as well. These are the staple ingredients which make it amazing, but I also added some other stuff which I found in my cupboards to bulk it out, these are written in italic. But you could honestly throw in anything.


-Olive oil

6 new potatoes

-1 onion

-A handful of veg from a bag of frozen Mediterranean vegetables. I found mine in Aldi, but Waitrose sell them too for only a £1! If you can’t find these, a bag of frozen, chunky vegetables (with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and peas) is equally lovely, but first cook to packet instructions.

-4 tsp Bouillon Vegetable Stock powder mixed with 250 ml boiling water

-1x tin of chopped tomatoes

-3 tsp Patak’s Madras curry paste.

-Mixed Herbs, Cumin + Coriander, Garam Masala (any other Curry spice-cardamom pods, fenugrek, tumeric work perfectly)

1x tin of kidney beans

-2 handfuls of spinach

-those frozen veg that you get in Sainsburys which included sweetcorn, peas, carrots and green beans.

-Enough rice for whoever’s eating


-Place the potatoes in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Leave simmering for 15 mins or until the potatoes are soft, but still a little hard in the middle when poked with a fork.

-Fry the onions in some olive oil, and add a bit of salt to prevent them from burning to the surface.

-Once soft and slightly brown, add the Medn Veggies and fry. IF USING CHUNKY VEGETABLES don’t add yet.

-The Medn vegetables should be soft and fully defrosted when you add the spices. This should include: 2 tsp of mixed herbs, 2 tsp of cumin, 2 tsp of coriander, and 1 tsp of Garam Masala, add these and continue to fry.

-This should be done for 2 minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes, other veg if using, kidney beans, spinach, stock and curry paste. Stir well.

-Once the potatoes are done, chop each one in half and add to the curry. Now cook for at least 15-20 minutes. To save waiting time, cook your rice.

-Serve with rice and, if you want to splash out, some mango chutney or some lime pickle (it was well worth the investment). Obviously you SHOULD have tonnes left over (but it’s SOOO easy to finish the whole pot off), with these leftovers put them into tupperware in sensible portion sizes  and place in the fridge/freezer for easy re-heatable curry in minutes.

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Filed under Rice and Pasta, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian