Chicken Casserole with Olives and Lemon (4)

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Sitting outside an off-the-beaten-track restaurant in a French village, a dish similar to this went past me to another table and when I ordered it there was none left. It has haunted me ever since. This tastes like I imagine my Poulet aux Olives would have tasted and has a lovely, deep flavored sauce due to using only the dark meat of the chicken which I seared before placing it in the casserole dish. I also de-glazed the frying pan with a little broth and scraped off all the bits stuck to the bottom and poured them on to the chicken. I added slices of lemon in addition to a mixture of green and black olives. When you serve the dish the lemon slices are more than garnish. You can eat them skin and all and they have a much softer taste than raw lemon. Mashed potatoes are a good accompaniment to mop up all the delicious juices.

2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks

1 onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 1/2 cups chicken broth + a little extra for de-glazing frying pan

1 lemon – sliced

16 pitted olives – 8 green, 8 black

1 tbsp. parsley – chopped

Place 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and the other tbsp. of olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish. When oil is sizzling place chicken pieces in frying pan and the onion in the casserole dish.

Brown the chicken on all sides and let the onion soften and brown a little before adding the garlic.

When the chicken is nicely seared transfer it and the juices to the casserole dish, then add a little chicken broth to the frying pan to de-glaze and remove any bits stuck to the bottom. Pour over the chicken.

Add the other 1 1/2 cups of broth to the chicken along with the lemon slices and olives.

Bring to a boil then simmer with a lid on for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

 

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Lightly Curried Chicken, Spinach and Quinoa (4)

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A healthy dinner on the table in a short space of time and any leftovers are great cold and would work well as a packed lunch. The curry flavor is mild –  just a hint really – though you could alter that to your taste and comes in the form of a dressing. The chicken and onion are poached together in aluminum foil. Peanuts and raisins in added to the mix. All in all, a nicely different dish.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 x chicken breasts – cut into 1 inch slices

1/2 a medium onion – cut into slices, then halve the slices and separate into individual pieces

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of boiling water

10 oz. baby spinach

Handful of unsalted peanuts – chopped

1/2 oz raisins

1 tsp. curry powder

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 dessertspoon mango chutney

Put a piece of aluminum foil in an oven-proof dish and place chicken and onion slices on top. Pour the 2 tbsp. of oil over, season with salt and pepper and mix together. Make a little parcel with the aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. After cooking, cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, place quinoa in a saucepan, add boiling water, bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Place spinach in a large lidded pan,  add a little boiling water and cook for just a few minutes until spinach is wilted. Drain, then wrap spinach in a clean T-towel. When it is cool enough to touch, wring the T-towel to get rid of excess water, then chop the spinach.

Mix curry powder, apple cider vinegar and mango chutney together, add oil whisk well together.

To assemble, place quinoa in a large bowl, add the chicken, onion and their juices, chopped spinach peanuts and raisins. Pour over the curry dressing and mix well together.

Poached Chicken and Zucchini Parcels (2)

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Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

I my use spiraliser to make the zucchini into spaghetti-like spirals but am noticing that they are appearing in more and more supermarkets. The chicken breast is cut into think slices or even small chunks and placed on a sheet of aluminum foil and topped with the zucchini and the lemony sauce then steamed in the oven.

1 chicken breast – sliced

8 oz zucchini – spiralised

Place a piece of aluminum in an ovenproof dish, top with the chicken and zucchini and pour the sauce over (see below). Close the foil so you have a parcel. Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.

Lemony Sauce

1 clove garlic – grated

1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Zest of 1/4 of a lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a small bowl in the order they are listed above and whisk together then pour over the chicken and zucchini.

Veal Ragu with Zucchini Spaghetti (4)

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Zucchini/courgettes ‘spaghetti’ is a really good substitute for pasta and because it doesn’t taste of much it is the perfect foil for many different sauces. I  make my own with a spiralizer but I notice that it is now available to buy in supermarkets. It is very quick to cook – literally a few minutes – and you actually want it to be just ‘al dente’. The veal sauce is livened up with sliced baby bella mushrooms and fresh herbs – sage and rosemary.

1 tbsp. oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – finely chopped

1 pound ground veal/pork

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms – sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 tbsp. fresh sage – finely chopped

1/2 tbsp. fresh rosemary – finely chopped

Heat the seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the onion and let it brown slightly.

Next add the ground veal and sear it before adding the mushrooms, chicken broth and herbs.

Simmer for around 15 minutes then pour sauce over the zucchini spaghetti.

ZUCCHINI SPAGHETTI

1 pound of zucchini – spiralized

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook zucchini in boiling water for around 3 minutes until they are cooked but still a little on the firm side.

Drain, then pat dry with a clean T-towel.

Place in a serving dish, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.

Pour the veal ragu over the top

 

Steff’s Meat Sauce (4)

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When I cook I try to make the dish healthy by cutting down on fat and sugar where possible. So, for this recipe I replaced ground beef with a mixture of ground chicken and ground turkey – a tip from my friend, Steff. I also bulked up the sauce with cannellini beans.

Because both chicken and turkey give out a certain amount of water, you may find that the sauce is a bit too runny. If so at the end of the cooking time cook for a little longer at a higher heat to reduce the liquid.

Just before serving I add small pieces of goat’s mozzarella which start melting and going gooey (more credit to Steff) and I serve this sauce over rice noodles – the thicker kind if you can find them – but it would be good with a baked potato, over rice or zucchini ‘pasta’.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 pound of ground chicken

1 pound of ground turkey

1 cup passata

1 cup chicken broth

2 oz. goat’s mozzarella – cut into small pieces

Heat seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and, when sizzling, add the onion and let soften and brown, then add the garlic, stir and let cook for a few minutes.

Stir in the ground chicken and turkey and break up the meat so it isn’t in clumps. Let the meat brown as this will add more flavor to the sauce.

When the meat is nicely browned stir in the passata and the broth and bring to the boil and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Serve before the cheese fully melts.

 

Sweet Potato ‘Lasagna’ (4)

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This recipe has only a passing resemblance to lasagna: the sheets of pasta have been replaced by thinly sliced sweet potato; the meat is a combination of lean, ground beef and ground turkey instead of the more usual ground beef and Italian sausage; there is no ricotta cheese or bechamel sauce. On the other hand there is a tomato sauce combining passata and tomato paste and the herbs are basil and parsley.

I layered the dish starting with the meat sauce followed by a layer of sweet potato slices and continued on finishing up with a top layer of sweet potato. I covered the dish with aluminum foil to enable the topping to cook without drying up.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium onions – finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 pound of lean, ground beef

1 pound of ground turkey

24 fl. oz. passata

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup of beef broth

2 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

2 tsp. dried basil

2 sweet potatoes – finely sliced in a food processor or on a mandolin

Heat the oil in a cast iron casserole dish or large skillet and when sizzling add the on ion and garlic and let soften and brown.

Add the beef and turkey and let brown for a bit before adding the passata, tomato paste, beef broth, parsley and basil.

Stir well and when simmering place a layer of this mixture in an ovenproof dish followed by a layer of sliced sweet potato. Repeat once or twice more depending on the size of your dish, ending up with a top layer of sweet potato.

Cover the ‘lasagna’ with aluminum and place in the oven for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the ‘lasagna’ in there until the oven cools.

 

Jo’s Greek Meatballs (4)

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Meatballs to me are comfort food. These meatballs are very quick to make and combine what I think of as Greek flavors – lamb, oregano and feta cheese. I cook them in the oven on a metal rack over a roasting tin so that the grease drops into the tin and leaves you with moist but not greasy meatballs. They go nicely with a salad I serve them with a salad as I think a sauce would drown the taste. If you want a new idea for cocktail nibbles make them very small and serve on a toothpick.

1 pound of ground lamb seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 oz. feta cheese – crumbled

1 egg – beaten

Place the lamb, oregano and feta in a large bowl and mix well together.

Add beaten egg and mix again, then make into palm of hand size meat balls.

Cook in oven at 350 degrees for between 20 – 30 minutes depending on size of meatball (cut in half to see if cooked).