Gluten-Free · Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Rice Dishes · Vegan

Roasted Tomato Risotto

Roasted tomato risotto: a gluten-free and vegan dinner. It’s comforting, warming and rich in tomato flavour. Delicious served up in bowls and garnished with fresh basil leaves or crispy garlic breadcrumbs. 

As we start to see out the last few weeks of summer, I wanted to share a dinner we’ve loved all summer long. A tasty creamy and flavourful tomato risotto you’re going to want to cook not just in the summer, but throughout the year.

I’ve made a few rice dishes for the blog including Mexican Red Rice (the very first recipe ever posted on this blog), Saffron Rice and Lemon Herb Rice. Apart from sharing these Double Cheese Arancini, I’ve not shared a risotto recipe, which surprises me as risotto is something we eat quite often and a go-to dinner of ours.

If you’re not familiar with risotto, it’s a traditional Northern Italian dish of rice cooked in broth/stock. Traditionally arborio or carnaroli rice is used because these types of rice absorb liquid and release starch, they’re both sticker in consistency compared to long grain rice. It depends on what I have in, but I tend to use arborio, but sometimes I’ll use carnaroli – the latter will produce the creamiest risotto.

I’ve eaten different risotto recipes and my personal favourites include mushroom (risotto ai funghi), butternut squash/pumpkin risotto (risotto alla zucca) and now this tomato version.

We made this risotto only a couple of weeks ago and we enjoyed it so much. Roasted tomatoes are a veggie can’t get enough of, I have them roasted and spread over toast for breakfast, with pasta, on top of polenta or blended up in soup.

The flavour of this risotto reminded me of tomato sauce I used to eat when I was younger, it had sweetness, tangy tomato flavour and the rice/sauce was creamy without needing any butter or cream.

Serve the risotto with some grated cheese (if you’re vegan then just use your favourite dairy-free alternative or nutritional yeast flakes) with a side salad and garlic bread. When we first made this, we ate the risotto with vegan sausages and homegrown green beans and recently with roasted onion and bell peppers.

Dish the risotto up and garnish with some fresh basil leaves or another herb of your choice. I love how vibrant the basil looks on top of the risotto. If you don’t have any basil on hand, even just a sprinkle of dried oregano will look and taste great.

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Roasted Tomato Risotto

Roasted tomato risotto is delicious served with a side salad and garlic bread for a dinner your family and friends will love.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Author Jessica Creed

Ingredients

  • 325 g baby plum or cherry tomatoes left whole
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil one for the risotto and the other for roasting the tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 red or white onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 300 g risotto rice
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 900 ml vegetable stock, plus extra if needed I use a mix of vegetable and white wine stock cubes

Instructions

  • To prepare the roasted tomatoes: Take the baby plum/cherry tomatoes and place in a small baking dish. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil and season well with salt and black pepper. We will roast these later on once the risotto has started cooking.
  • To make the risotto: Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan (I'd recommending using a frying pan). Over a medium to high heat sauté the onion and garlic for a 2-3 minutes until softened. Season well with salt and black pepper.
  • Now add the risotto rice to the pan and toast over the heat for another minute.
  • In a large jug mix together the pasatta and vegetable stock until combined. Turn the heat down slightly and add a ladel of the tomato/stock liquid to the risotto. Keep adding the liquid bit by bit until it's absorbed, stirrring well in between each addition.
  • Once the risotto has been cooking for about 10 minutes, pop the tomatoes you prepared earlier in the oven at 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Roast the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes. Once they're ready, take out from the oven ready for later.
  • Cook the risotto for roughly 25-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked through, add more boiling water or stock to get the consistency as you desire.
  • Once the risotto rice is cooked, add 3/4 of the roasted tomatoes and stir through. Serve the risotto in a large bowl or seperate bowls, garnish with the remaining roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.

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Light Lunches · Main Meals · Vegan

Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)

This restaurant-style red rice is filling, healthy and packed full of flavour. It’s a must try for anyone who loves Mexican food!

Recipe originally posted July 2013, recipe and photographs updated May 2021.

This rice recipe holds a special place in my heart, it’s a dish that’s enjoyable as an accompaniment to many of our favourite Mexican foods.

I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve made this rice over the years since I first shared the recipe in 2013. It’s a staple savoury recipe in my house and is the perfect side dish to any Mexican dinner: used to fill a burrito or served with enchiladas and fajitas.

We love it served in tortilla wraps with Mexican-style roasted vegetables with vegan soya and chive dip or drizzled with piri piri mayonnaise. Or grab a pack of tortilla chips and scoop the rice up along with some tomato salsa!

I often make this rice for dinner but if we happen to have any leftover rice then I’ll take a portion for lunch at work. I love it served both warm straight from the pot or cold. When you let it cool down and eat the next day I find the flavours have developed more and the rice is even tastier!

Vegetable wise I’ve always added chopped bell peppers to my Mexican rice. I like using two different coloured peppers and usually go for a red and a yellow bell pepper. You can use whichever colour peppers you like or even add different vegetables like sweetcorn or peas, it’s really up to you what you choose to put in!

So to make this tasty rice you’ll start by sautéing diced onion with garlic, chopped bell peppers and some salt and pepper for about 5 minutes until softened. Add a combination of spices (cumin, cilantro/coriander, smoked paprika and chilli powder) and toast those off with a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée. Add the rice and stock and simmer the rice on the stove top or braise it in the oven for 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Once the rice is cooked, squeeze the juice of a lime over the rice, give it a quick stir and add any extra seasoning if needed and leave the rice to sit and infuse.

Serve the rice hot or cold with a garnish of lime wedges and some chopped cilantro/coriander or parlsey.

Forget the bland and stodgy packet of microwave Mexican rice and make your own, you won’t regret it once you’ve tasted my recipe!

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 red or white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cilantro/coriander

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes or powder (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato purée

450g (2 cups) long grain rice

900ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock (I use vegetable stock to ensure this rice is vegan)

Juice of 1 lime, plus more lime wedges to serve

Method:

  1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and peppers for 5 minutes until they’re starting to soften slightly. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the spices (cumin, cilantro/coriander, paprika and chilli) and toast for a minute fragrant. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further minute.
  3. Now add the rice and cook for another couple of minutes to toast slightly making sure it doesn’t catch too much on the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and bring up to the boil – at this point stir the rice with a fork opposed to a spoon.
  4. Once boiling, either simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is fluffy or alternatively you can braise the rice in the oven for the same amount of time at 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
  5. Take off the heat and add the lime juice and mix through the rice. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed and then cover and allow the flavours in the rice to infuse for 5-10 minutes before serving, then serve the rice warm or cold. Garnish the plate of rice with lime edges and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro/coriander or parsley if desired. The rice once cooled completely to room temperature will store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Don’t reheat rice more than once.

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Main Meals · Vegan

Chickpea Tikka Masala

Tasty and filling chickpea curry is a quick weeknight vegan dinner served with rice, chapatis, naan bread or poppadoms. Lunch/dinner will be ready and on your table in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  

Curry is one my many favourite meals and it’s become a staple dinner of mine. It’s delicious, full of vibrant flavours, but I’m sure you’d probably never have guessed how easy and quick it is to make yourself?

One of my work colleagues is extremely kind and often brings me in authentic vegetarian Indian curries and chapatis to take home and have when I finish work for the day. It’s something I really appreciate as once I get in from work, having been on my feet all day long I don’t usually feel like cooking anything for myself.

Her chickpea and potato curry is especially amazing and it tastes so good. I love making vegetable curries myself, but the recipe I usually make takes a long time (a couple of hours) for the sauce to simmer before it’s ready to serve. I wanted to make a curry that wouldn’t take as long to prepare, but didn’t lack any flavour.

I’ve made a lot of chickpea curries myself, but this one is my favourite yet. I found the recipe on Loving It Vegan and made just a couple of small changes to the original recipe by adding curry powder as well as garam masala and some mango chutney for sweetness – I love adding mango chutney to my homemade curries and if you’ve never tried it then you must!

Once all the curry ingredients are in your saucepan just cover the pan with a lid and leave your curry to simmer away for 10-15 minutes. Then, when it’s ready, garnish your bowl of curry with lime wedges, chopped green or red chillies and fresh coriander/cilantro.

The curry has a nice light spiced flavour and the coconut milk adds incredible creaminess making this curry a fusion between a korma and tikka masala.

I know this recipe is one I will make often from now on and I’m considering changing it up and adding different vegetables like bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms and potato the next time I make it, which I’m sure will be just as yummy.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil – adds amazing flavour but you can substitute with vegetable oil

1 red or white onion, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder – I use medium tikka curry powder

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cumin – ground or seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 x 400g (14 ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained

400ml (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes

400ml (14 ounce) can coconut milk – I use full-fat

1 tablespoon mango chutney or sugar

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. On medium heat, melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Now add the spices (curry powder, garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne) and toast the spices off for a further 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the drained chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk along with the mango chutney or sugar and season with salt and black pepper. Cover the curry and leave it to simmer for 10-15 minutes until it’s thickened slightly and the flavours have all blended together.
  3. Serve the curry over rice with chapati, naan bread or poppadoms. We like squeezing fresh lime over the top before eating. The curry will keep stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Pasta

Creamy roasted red pepper tomato sauce served with fusilli pasta. A simple and flavourful pasta dish great for students or anyone on a budget! 

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I think my obsession with pasta is almost as big, maybe even bigger than my cheesecake obsession? 😉

How you can blame me? Pasta is such a versatile ingredient and the choices are endless. I could eat pasta every night of the week and not get bored. I kid you not, when we holidayed in Italy a couple of summers back we ate pasta nearly every single night.

I particularly love sharing these kinds of recipes because being a student I’m always on the lookout for easy and cheap meals that don’t lack flavour or require me to spend hours standing over a hot stove. Sometimes all I want is a dinner that’s both comforting and good for me. And yes, it is possible!

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I’ve been planning to make this sauce for a long time now. I’ve based the recipe on my marinara and arrabbiata sauces, but I changed my classic tomato sauce by adding roasted red bell pepper and double cream. I really love roasted peppers, as the peppers roast they get sweeter and charr and the charring adds incredible intense flavour to the sauce.

To prepare the sauce, I roasted 3 large red bell peppers with a red onion, a few cloves of garlic, olive oil, dried thyme, oregano, chilli flakes for 30 minutes until all the vegetables were soft and the peppers were starting to caramelise and charr slightly. Once the vegetables were roasted I added them to a saucepan along with a can of chopped tomatoes and a pinch of sugar to add extra sweetness to the tomatoes. Then I left the sauce to gently simmer for about 15-20 minutes then I took it off of the heat and blitzed it until it was smooth. Finally I added double cream which brings a delicious creaminess and richness to the sauce.

The final step is to put a pot of salted water onto boil and cook your pasta to packet instructions. I went for fusilli (we have a 3kg bag in the store-cupboard waiting to be cooked with < can you tell we’re a family of pasta lovers?), but really this sauce suits all kinds of pasta shapes, linguine, spaghetti or even penne, so use whatever you have in.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

3 large red bell peppers

1 red or white onion

3 large cloves of garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

400g (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes

Generous pinch of sugar

4 tablespoons double cream

To serve:

400-500g dried fusilli or any other pasta shape

Freshly grated Parmesan

Fresh chopped basil or parsley

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 160° Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Slice the red pepper and onion up into medium sized chunks and half each garlic clove. Evenly spread the vegetables out onto a large baking tray. Scatter over the herbs (dried thyme, oregano and chilli flakes) and drizzle over the olive oil. Season well with salt and black pepper and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  2. Once the vegetables are roasted place them in a large saucepan along with the can of chopped tomatoes and a generous pinch of sugar. Stir and then bring the sauce up to the boil. Once boiling simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes. Blitz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth and no chunks remain. Stir through the cream and add any extra seasoning if needed.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Once the pasta is cooked drain it and add it and stir through the sauce. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan, crumbled goats cheese or feta cheese. Garnish with chopped basil or parsley if you desire.

Recipe Notes:

  • Omit the double cream for almond milk and leave the Parmesan out to make this dish suitable for vegans. Omit the Parmesan for a vegetarian substitute to make this dish suitable for vegetarians.

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Enjoy!

jess

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Gluten-Free · Main Meals

Sticky Asian Chicken

If you’re a fan of Chinese takeaway then you’re going to love this healthier Asian-style chicken. It’s sweet, sticky and packed with aromatic oriental flavour! 

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This sticky Asian chicken is super easy to prepare. You don’t need to marinate the chicken and this recipe doesn’t require any expensive ingredients, most of which are likely to already be in your store cupboard, meaning you can cook this dish on a whim and without having the break the bank.

Start by preparing the sticky sauce. All you’ll need to do is whisk all the sauce ingredients (chopped garlic and ginger, soy sauce, honey and tomato ketchup) until combined. My mum and I experimented with this recipe a fair bit before we achieved perfect ratio of sauce. This delicious chicken dish has been on our dinner menu rotation weekly, so I knew it was a definite blog-worthy meal to share.

Once you’ve got your sauce all ready to go, fry the chicken in a hot pan until it’s nicely golden and cooked all the way through. Add the sauce and reduce it until it’s thickened and coats all the pieces of chicken. So simple, see I told you it was easy!

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The recipe will take you less than 15 minutes to make from start to finish and I know if you’re anything like me this is the kind of food you want when you come home to from a long day at work when you don’t have the time or the energy to cook.

We love serving the chicken on fluffy rice with an assortment of stir-fried vegetables. Mum stir-fried some sliced red bell pepper, julienned carrot and mangetout. You can serve the chicken just with rice if your prefer but we love the addition of the veggies. Also, this chicken is great served with noodles if you want to try something different.

Why eat takeaway when you can cook an easy and super flavourful meal like this in a fraction of the time it would take you to order a takeaway? You’ll save money and you will be eating healthier!

If you’re not eating meat you can substitute the chicken for a vegetarian meat alternative. Cook the meat substitute until crisp as you would with the chicken and then add the sauce, simmer and then serve.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

450-500g (1lb) skinless boneless chicken breast, cubed – you can use a meat alternative like Quorn Chicken Style Pieces

Sauce – 

2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

4 tablespoons dark or light soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons tomato ketchup

Method:

  1. In a small mixing bowl mix together the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey and tomato ketchup until thoroughly combined.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, saucepan or wok. Fry the chicken on a medium to high heat until it’s cooked all the way through and is just beginning to turn a golden colour.
  3. Once the chicken is cooked add the sauce you prepared earlier to the pan. Turn the heat up to high and reduce the sauce until it’s starting to caramelise and coats the chicken. This will take about 4-5 minutes. Serve the chicken immediately with fluffy rice or noodles and stir-fried vegetables of your choice. The chicken tastes great the next day and makes really good leftovers!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals

Penne all’Arrabbiata

Penne in fiery, spicy tomato sauce. A delicious meatless Monday meal! 

If I’m not baking cake or making cookies and cheesecakes I love cooking delicious savoury recipes, especially pasta dishes. I have a few favourite pasta recipes already shared on this blog and I am always adding to that collection.

Penne all’Arrabbiata is a classic Roman pasta dish that’s popular in Italy, around the world and my kitchen for a reason. It’s rich, comforting and the perfect food to enjoy after a busy day when you can’t be fussed to cook anything too fancy or extravagant for dinner.

“Arrabbiata” is the Italian word for angry which describes the sauces’ fiery and hot flavour. If you’re not a fan of chilli don’t worry as this arrabbiata sauce has just the right amount of spiciness without being over the top. I only added one red chilli which I deseeded but you can adjust the spiciness to your own taste by adding more or less.

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It’s traditional to serve arrabbiata sauce with penne because the ridges cling onto the sauce. Saying that any pasta shape will work. Sometimes I use spaghetti or fusilli but it really depends on what I have in.

I always cook tomato sauces for at least one and a half hours as I find this allows the flavours to really develop. You can serve the pasta immediately with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan or you can spread it out into a skillet or a baking dish and then top with melting cheese like dried mozzarella, Parmesan or even cheddar and bake it al forno style.

I personally can’t eat pasta without lots of Parmesan. During my recent trip to Bologna I visited the Parmigiano Reggiano Dairies and I was treated to a Parmesan tasting. It was an amazing experience tasting all the different ages and seeing how Parmesan is produced.

Penne all’Arrabbiata is a great meal to have on standby ready for busy weeknights or for a lazy weekend dinner. You can make this sauce up to a week in advance and it can be stored in your fridge. When you’re ready to serve pop the sauce back into a saucepan and heat it whilst the pasta is cooking.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil – I don’t recommend using extra virgin olive oil

1 red or white onion, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 – 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon tomato purée

400g can chopped tomatoes or tomato passata

200ml water (I used the can to measure this)

1-2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Fresh basil or parsley, to serve

500g dried penne or any other pasta of your choice – I recommend penne rigate

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Sauté the diced onion, garlic and chilli until soft for about 4-5 minutes. Add the oregano and continue to cook for another minute or two. Season generously with salt and black pepper.
  2. Add the tomato purée and cook for another minute. Add the canned tomatoes/passata, water and the sugar and bring the sauce up to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a low heat and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. It should be thick and glossy by the end of the cooking time.
  3. Before serving, place a large pot of water onto boil – season the water well with salt. Cook the pasta until al dente (a few minutes less than the packet instructions). Drain the pasta and mix together with the sauce. Add extra seasoning if it needs and serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.

Enjoy!

jess

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Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes · Travel

Linguine Gamberi

Linguine with prawns flavoured with chilli, lemon, garlic and parsley. One of the tastiest seafood pasta dishes you will try and it’s all ready in less than 15 minutes!

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I came up with this recipe when I was on holiday in Sardinia a couple of years ago, where the majority of our meals were based around the fresh seafood on offer and most nights we ate pasta. This dish is perfect to eat anytime of year – it’s a great al fresco meal for the summer, but also extremely flavourful and warming in the colder months too. I love this recipe because fresh flavours are brought together to create an amazing seafood dish that takes hardly any time to make and has to be one of the best dinners you could eat! Just eating this dish transports me back to the beautiful sunny Italian island!

Pasta dishes are definitely one of my specialities! Pasta is a very versatile ingredient, I have shared many different creations on the blog so far, including this spaghetti with marinara sauce and this delicious pesto linguine with halloumi cheese and roasted tomatoes.

This linguine gamberi is truly one of my go-to quick dinner recipes. It would definitely be my last meal on earth – I LOVE anything with garlic butter!

The recipe is based on one of my favourite pasta sauces, aglio e olio – which is simply a sauce made out of garlic oil, you can also add some pepperoncino (chilli flakes) if you like too! All you have to do to make this dish is cook some linguine or any other of your favourite pasta shapes, flavour the oil with garlic, red chilli and lemon, then gently cook the prawns. Add some butter – which adds the indulgence and helps keep the prawns tender and then toss together with the cooked drained pasta. It couldn’t be any simpler!

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I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love a bowl of this pasta for their dinner! Comfort food to the max. This is sure to impress anyone who tries it! Serve with a big glass of chilled white wine for the ultimate dinner, perfect for any night of the week! Enjoy the recipe guys!

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(Serves 4 portions)

Ingredients –

500g dried spaghetti

225g raw tiger prawns, cleaned and de-veined

75g butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 – 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 unwaxed lemon, zest + juice of half

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method –

1. Cook the linguine in salted boiling water according to the packets instructions.

2. Once the pasta is near enough cooked, add the olive oil to a large frying pan. Gently sauté chopped garlic, chilli and lemon zest until fragrant, then add the prawns and the lemon juice and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until they start to turn pink in colour.

3. Once the prawns are cooked add the butter and cook on a medium heat to warm the prawns completely through and melt the butter. Toss the drained pasta and prawns together in the pan. I also like to sprinkle over a little freshly grated parmesan too. Serve in pasta bowls and enjoy!

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Original recipe posted October 2013

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More pasta recipes you may like:

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce 

Pesto Linguine with Halloumi & Roasted Tomatoes 

Spaghetti with Courgettes, Chilli, Lemon & Garlic 

Enjoy the recipe!

jess

Gluten-Free · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Rice Dishes · Vegetarian Recipes

Saffron Rice

Fluffy aromatic buttered saffron rice. A classic and delicious side dish.

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I absolutely adore simple and easy dishes. They’re especially convenient for busy working families with hardly any time to make a delicious and tasty dinner. Rice dishes in particular are a great standby for hectic weeknight dinners. Rice is a basic store cupboard ingredient and my recipe proves it can be transformed into something special with just a handful of extra ingredients!

This rice is amazing and it’s always a big hit with my family. It’s quick to make and with a buttery and fragrant flavour it makes a tasty side dish that is luxurious and will impress any dinner guest who tastes it. I decided to combine one of my favourite ingredients in my herb and spice cupboard, saffron. I often use saffron in my Spanish recipes like paella (recipe for that will be coming soon!) and homemade sauces. This rice recipe is very adaptable as you can add a small handful of cardamom pods, cloves, a little pinch of turmeric and a cinnamon stick and easily turn the recipe into pilau rice ready to serve with your favourite curry.

I’ve been making and creating my own rice recipes for a little while now. I shared this amazingly good Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo) recipe a while back when I’d just started blogging and it still remains one of my favourite dishes.

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The rice is speckled with beautiful saffron threads. I love the rich flavour the saffron adds. To prepare the rice it’s very important to have your mis en place prepared beforehand. I take two smallish pinches of saffron threads and I soak the saffron in boiling water for 10 minutes. The soaking allows the oils to be released and the flavour will become stronger. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice but it can be found at an affordable price if you look around at your local supermarket.

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Whilst the saffron is soaking you have the opportunity to prepare your other ingredients. I finely diced a small white onion and chopped up a couple cloves of garlic. To cook the rice, melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Caramelise the onion and then add the garlic and a bay leaf – caramelising the onion again will add more depth of flavour and a little sweetness. Tip the rice into the pan and toast slightly so it can be coated fully in the butter mixture. Then all that’s left to do is to pour in the stock and leave the rice to simmer away until cooked.

Once cooked I always take rice off the heat and leave it to rest for another 5-10 minutes. This allows the rice to steam a little longer and makes it fluffier – it’s one of the most vital steps in making perfect homemade rice! Fluff with a fork and then serve up.

This rice can also be served alongside many dishes – I love to serve it with curry or my mum’s Spanish roast chicken. But the rice is great enjoyed on it’s own too.

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(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

2 pinches saffron threads

2 tablespoons boiling water

30g / 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 bay leaf, torn

450g (2 cups) rice (you can use basmati or long grain rice)

900ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Fresh parsley, to serve

Method:

1. Add the saffron threads to a small bowl. Pour over the 2 tablespoons boiling water, mix and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan gently melt the butter and oil. Add the chopped onion, season well with salt and pepper and sauté on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Now add the minced garlic and bay leaf and continue cooking for a further minute until fragrant.

3. Add the rice and toast for 2 minutes. Now add the stock and the saffron infusion you pre-made earlier and stir to combine. Bring up to the boil and then once boiling turn down the heat to low and allow the rice to simmer covered for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked fully.

4. Once the rice is cooked, take off the heat and leave on the side for 5-10 minutes. Fluff the rice up and adjust seasoning, if needed.

5. Serve warm with a sprinkling of parsley.

Note: To make this dish vegan, omit the butter and add an extra tablespoon of oil or 30g of your preferred butter substitute.

Enjoy!

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Baking · Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Travel · Vegetarian Recipes

Pizza Margherita

A Neapolitan classic: Pizza Margherita. Rustic, authentic and simply delicious. Serve with a sprinkling of oregano or fresh basil for a delicious and traditional Italian dinner.

pizza margherita 

Tasting this delicious recipe transported me back to Italy and eating pizza Margherita in the middle of the Piazza del Campo is Siena.

Over the weekend is we always enjoy a pizza night in our house. It’s become a tradition over the years and I love getting into the kitchen and making homemade pizza with my family. Once it’s baking in the oven and you can smell all those amazing aromas, you know your weekend is off to a delicious start.

The mix of flavours are simple and taste wonderful. My earliest memories are of my mum making homemade pizza for me and my friends for dinner. Everyone couldn’t believe we had made it all from scratch and so I’ve been making homemade pizza for as long as I can remember. This is just the very basic Margherita pizza, however you can top it with any extra ingredients that take your fancy.

Forget buying pre-made pizza and try my easy homemade pizza recipe. You’ll have so much fun creating your own unique pizza!

(Makes 2 x 25cm pizzas)

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough –

500g strong white bread flour or tipo ’00 flour, plus extra for dusting

7g fast-action dried yeast

1 teaspoon fine salt

2 teaspoons sugar

250ml warm water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

Toppings –

300-400g passata (sieved Italian tomatoes)

Fresh basil leaves, for sauce and serving (optional)

Dried oregano

250g dried mozzarella (also known as pizza mozzarella) or 2 balls of buffalo mozzarella, drained and then torn

Method:

1. To prepare the pizza dough: Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the centre and add the water and oil and mix into a wet dough. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes. Once kneaded and elasticated place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and leave to rise somewhere warm for 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

2. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Lightly oil two large baking trays with approx. 1 tablespoon of olive oil on each tray. Once the dough has rested, take it out the bowl and divide into two equal halves. Using your hands or a rolling pin press the dough out to form a circle shape – about 25cm in diameter. Place the pizza bases on the oiled baking trays.

3. Mix together the passata, tear in a small handful of fresh basil leaves (optional) and season well with salt and pepper. Now spread the passata mixture evenly on top of each pizza. Sprinkle with a little oregano or your favourite dried herbs. Divide the mozzarella between the two pizzas and top with the tomatoes (if using).  Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and all the cheese is gooey and melted. Serve hot and garnish with basil leaves and drizzle with a little extra olive oil to finish.

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Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes · Travel

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

Homemade marinara sauce with spaghetti. A delicious dinner recipe served warm with a sprinkling of Parmesan and garnished with basil leaves. Comfort in a bowl! 

marinara sauce recipe

I don’t know why, but it’s taken a little too long to finally get round to sharing my family favourite tomato sauce. This tomato sauce is absolutely perfect to serve and toss into pasta or top pizzas with and it’s also a recipe I’ve been making for many years now. I guarantee, once you’ve tasted this divine sauce you will never reach for a pre-made tomato sauce ever again!

The sauce is rich, sweet and incredibly delicious – this is thanks to the cooking time which allow the flavours to develop and enrich. I think pasta with any kind of sauce is the epitome of comfort food for me. Marinara tossed into the cooked pasta and topped with Parmesan is the best meal and transports me back to summers spent in Italy.

I wanted to share a simple and basic recipe because these types of recipes always great to have in your cooking repertoire. As I said this marinara sauce can be used in mostly any Italian dish. As I mentioned above, I top homemade pizzas with it but you could also replace the pasta and use courgetti (zucchini noodles) and enjoy a low-carb meal. I also love to toss in a few grilled or roasted veggies to the mix. The choices are really endless, this tasty sauce is extremely versatile! If you don’t want to use pasta, just simply dip some good crusty bread into the sauce for a quick and tasty lunch/snack.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and any other dried herbs you like

A few basil leaves or bay leaves, torn

2 tablespoons tomato purée

Generous couple pinches of sugar

400g (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes or passata

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 can water (roughly 200ml), add more if needed

Salt and black pepper, to taste

To Serve:

400-500g spaghetti (or any other pasta you like – short pasta like fusilli or penne both work well)

Freshly grated Parmesan or other cheese of your choice, to serve

Fresh basil leaves

Method:

1. Gently heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the diced onion and garlic until soft – about 4-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

2. Add the tomato purée and cook out for another 1-2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes/passata, sugar lemon juice and the water and bring the sauce up to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a low heat and simmer for an hour. It should be thick and glossy by the end of the cooking time.

3. To serve, remove the bay leaves. Boil some water and season well with salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, this is usually a couple of minutes less than the packet instructions suggest. Drain the pasta well, reserving a little extra pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Add the tomato sauce and toss together with the cooked spaghetti. Season if it needs and serve up in bowls. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and garnish with basil leaves.

Best eaten warm, but the sauce is also great packed up for lunch the next day. This sauce will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

bowlful pasta

I love serving this pasta with a slice of homemade Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia!

DSC09075

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