Macaroni bolognese au gratin

I love a traditional lasagne but sometimes I like to ring the changes with this tasty alternative. Layers of rich meat sauce and creamy macaroni topped with a Parmesan and sourdough crumb and served with a green salad on the side, it’s a perfect family supper dish. If you’ve already got your favourite meat sauce in the freezer, it’s super-quick to make.

macaroni bolognese

  • 750g minced beef
  • 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 red or green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche or double cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsps milk
  • 200g macaroni – cooked al dente
  • Large slice of sourdough or other good quality bread blitzed into rough crumbs with 50g of Parmesan

To make…

  • First, make the meat sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions, celery, garlic and carrot and cook for about 20 minutes until soft and golden. Add the meat and cook until lightly browned. Add the leek and pepper, cook through for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, milk, vinegar, oregano, chilli and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and then turn down the heat to low. Cook for an hour until the sauce is rich and thick. Taste and add more seasoning if preferred.
  • Cook the macaroni until al dente – usually takes about 10 minutes. Drain and mix with the creme fraiche or cream, plenty of black pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil.
  • Whizz the Parmesan into crumbs in a food processor (or use a coarse grater) and then add the bread torn into smaller pieces.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • To assemble, lightly butter the gratin dish and cover the bottom with a layer of meat sauce. Next add the layer of macaroni and top that the remaining meat sauce. Scatter the sourdough and Parmesan crumb evenly over the top.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

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Masala daal

I love the flavours of India and finding dishes that work well as part of my low-carb eating regime. This spicy chickpea daal really ticks a lot of boxes. Eat it by itself for lunch with a hard boiled egg or with spiced roast chicken or lamb for supper with some simple chutneys and pickles. It’s easy to make, full of flavour and a good budget option too. You’ll find yourself making this again and again.

  • 35ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 5g finely grated fresh ginger
  • 5g finely grated garlic
  • 400g tin of chickpeas (or dried ones, soaked and cooked)
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 15g tomato purée
  • 1g sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 100g onion and tomato masala
  • 50g skinned and chopped fresh tomatoes
  • A handful of chopped fresh coriander stalks
  • 3cm fresh root ginger cut into thin matchsticks
  • 25g butter
  • To serve: red onion, finely sliced, ginger matchsticks, coriander leaves, lime juice

To make…

  • Warm the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the grated garlic and ginger and cook through for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Add the cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon stick and cook for another minute. Add the cumin, chilli, tomato purée and salt. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the onion and tomato masala, bring to a simmer, add the chickpeas and 100ml of water. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the garam masala, fresh tomatoes, chopped coriander and ginger matchsticks. Simmer for another couple of minutes and then stir in the butter.
  • Serve with a garnish of sliced red onion, ginger matchsticks, chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice.

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

  • To get the latest #TheFridayRecipe from the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen blog, just add your email address to the subscribe box at the top right-hand column of the website.
  • Follow me on twitter @pigeoncottage,  on Instagram at Pigeon Cottage Kitchen and the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen page on Facebook.
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Mussel pilaf with dill

Rick Stein has made some wonderful food and travel programmes, we’ve loved the recent one about Cornwall, the rerun of Secret France and repeats of Long Weekends. We saw this  mussel pilaf being made at a restaurant in the Thessaloniki episode and it made us long for sunnier climes and the days when holidays were possible. It was time to dig out my Long Weekends recipe book! The ingredients used by the restaurant chef and Rick’s version are a bit different so I’ve produced here what I think is the ‘best of breed’ version. I buy rope-grown mussels from Waitrose as they are very clean and not at all gritty, adding plenty of dill to give it that authentic Greek flavour. It was a fantastic Saturday supper for two with a chilled bottle of white Burgundy but you could easily scale the recipe up for more as long as you have cooking pots big enough. 

mussel pilaf

  • 1 bag of raw rope-grown fresh mussels 
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, medium sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (you could use saffron if you like, I find it makes very little difference to the flavour but a lot to the cost!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 20g pack of fresh dill, chopped 
  • 25g pack of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • Salt
  • 200g white long grain rice
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon to serve

To make…

  • First, prep the mussels. Tip them into a big bowl of cold water and give them a wiggle to remove any external dirt. discard any that are already open or in any way cracked or damaged. Rope-grown mussels tend not to have those little beardy bits on them but trim them off if they do. Rinse the remaining ones in some clean cold water and put them in a pan with a splash of water. Cover and steam over a high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until open – give the pan a little shake or two to help them on their way. Pour the mussels into a large sieve or colander over a bowl. You’re going to use the cooking water so don’t pour it away. Remove the shells from all but a dozen and set the cooked mussels aside. Pour the cooking liquor (but not any last bits of grit in the bottom) into a jug and top up to 400ml with water.
  • In a large pan over a medium heat, warm the olive oil and gently fry the onion, spring onion, green pepper and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another 5 minutes. Add half the dill and parsley, a little salt and the wine. Stir and add the rice.
  • Pour over the mussel stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the rice is just soft. Have a little taste just before you put the lid on and add a little more salt if you think it needs it; there should be plenty of flavour to infuse the rice but no one likes bland!
  • Add the cooked mussels and the rest of the dill and stir through. 
  • Top with the mussels left in their shells. Put the lid back on for another couple of minutes so everything warms through slightly – it tastes best just warm, not piping hot and you don’t want the mussels to go rubbery. Remove the lid, scatter with the remaining parsley and serve with wedges of lemon. 

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

  • To get the latest #TheFridayRecipe from the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen blog, just add your email address to the subscribe box at the top right-hand column of the website. 
  • Follow me on Twitter @pigeoncottage,  on Instagram at Pigeon Cottage Kitchen, and the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen page on Facebook.
  • Click on the link to get your very own copy of my family recipe book, Whats4teaMum?
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