Tuna & Cherry Tomato Pasta Bake

 A quick and easy dinner for those days when you need yum on the fly.

Sometimes a quick dinner is exactly what you need. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really, really love to cook… but sometimes having a little more time for something else is exactly what you need. Less time in the kitchen = more time to unwind before the next whirlwind of a day comes along.

The ultimate speedy version of this dish involves prepping the pasta over the weekend or a couple of days in advance and pouring it into an oven-proof dish, complete with a topping of grated mozzarella. Refrigerate until you need it. From there, all it needs is 15 minutes in the oven while you change out of your work clothes or tend to a chore or two. Before you know it, *beep beep beep* – dinner is ready!

 

SONY DSCSONY DSC


Tuna & Cherry Tomato

Pasta Bake

Serves 4

Ingredients

250g dried penne pasta, cooked

200-250g canned tuna

1 medium brown onion, diced

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp minced garlic

2 handfuls cherry tomato, halved

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

pinch of salt & pepper

– 

50g grated mozzarella

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C degrees.

2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan sauté the brown onion with the olive oil until translucent and soft, then add in the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Place the cherry tomatoes into the pan and let cook for a few minutes until they begin to lose their shape. Turn down the stove to low heat, adding the cooked pasta to the pan.

3. In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolk, parmesan and stock/water until they come together. Pour this liquid straight onto the pasta and stir to coat the pasta. Add in the tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, then stir again. Taste for seasoning, adding more if necessary.

4. Pour the pasta into a baking tin or casserole dish. Top with the grated mozzarella, then bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is browned (bake for 15 minutes if the pasta is just out of the refrigerator). Serve hot or cold with a side of salad.


Vegetarian Kimchi Dumplings

Kimchi dumplings. While I’d like to take credit for it, is not a new creation. A quick google search confirms this fact, but the recipes I find online seem to all be based around meat.

vegetarian-kimchi-dumplings_hdr03_thelemonandjar_1

Just in case you don’t know my situation with meat – no, I’m not vegetarian. Well…sometimes I am… but sometimes I’m not. Confused yet? Don’t worry. It’s about to get clearer soon. :)

I dislike labels but if you wanted to put one on the way I eat, I would be a ‘flexitarian‘. That is, I eat mostly plant-based foods and occasionally a little meat when I feel like it. I believe it’s more sustainable to eat this way and so I do. And no, contrary to the insinuations, ‘plant-based’ does not equal ‘rabbit food’. So yes, I do also eat bread, noodles and a whole heap of delicious goodies on a regular basis. (What is life without noodles and bread? Haha….But seriously though.)

Back to the real issue at hand – the kimchi dumplings!

I didn’t particularly feel like meat on this day so instead of just searching up a tried and true vegetarian kimchi dumpling recipe (what’s the fun in that). I decided to pull a YOLO (as I so often do. In fact, I think I have a kitchen YOLO problem. Some, *ahem* my boyfriend, has recommended I seek help).

What he calls ‘YOLO moments’ (promise, I will stop saying YOLO soon), I call intuitive cooking or recipe creation. The difference is that I am making educated decisions regarding flavour combinations, quantities and cooking methods. Rather than just, you know, throwing the first 7 random ingredients I see in a bowl and wishing for the best… but you know: Tuh-may-toh, tuh-mah-toh. 

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Anyhow, I went on my merry way, sautéing egg and silken tofu (firm tofu will also work) with some sesame oil and a little soy sauce, stirring until they resembled a fragrant and firm mince. This was mixed with chopped up kimchi, chives and white pepper, then tasted to make sure it was yummy (this is how the finished dumplings would taste).

The mixture is wrapped it into ten plump, little dumplings then they are placed, five at a time, into a slightly oiled pan and quickly browned on one side. Then a little water is splashed into the pan, a lid is placed over it, and the dumplings are steamed for a minute or less, to completion. Easy peasy.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Continue reading

(Oil-free) Twice-cooked Sweet Potato Chips with Smoked Paprika & Oregano

twicedcooked-sweetpotatofries_01_thelemonandjar

Twice-cooked, thrice-cooked… it all sounds a little complicated and long winded, right? Not in this particular recipe!

These sweet potatoes are washed, chopped, and placed in pot of water. Bring this to a boil and as soon as you see little bubbles rising to the top, remove it from the stove and drain your sweet potato. Then sprinkle over a little plain flour, smoked paprika, oregano and sea salt over your sweet potatoes before roasting it in the oven until crispy and browned.

Also, did I mention that these are oil free fries? Auf wiedersehen, air fryer – we don’t need you anymore! So whilst these chips aren’t as crispy as deep-fried chips, they are still lightly crispy, just as delicious and so much better for you (especially needed after the holidays, am I right? I don’t know about you but I had wayyy too much food over Christmas and New Years).

Plus, serve these chips with some lime wedges and guacamole, and ta-da – you’ve got yourself a wicked party for your tastebuds. Mmmmm, sweet potato fries. Just think about having some at your next party- this is awesome party food! You can pre-boil your sweet potato fries and pop them into the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Then season and bake right before serving.

Sounds easy, right? Right. Let’s get cooking!

twicedcooked-sweetpotatofries_02_thelemonandjar

On a separate note, I’ll be posting soon about what I learnt from Project 52 and why I felt I couldn’t continue it to the very end. Pst, it involves Michael Pollan! So stay tuned for that.

Continue reading

The Best Garlic and Herb Bread (Lactose-free, Vegan)

garlic-herb-bread_12_thelemonandjar.jpg

Straight out of the oven, the fumes of fresh moorish garlic bread waft through my kitchen and the living room it opens to. I look at it and I kinda of stare for a second before I decide, even the pretty things are meant to be eaten. Maybe pretty things are especially so – too pretty not to eat, that is.

I grab the edge with one hand and lightly pull with the other. It tears at a fold and as expected – a humble yet whimsical puff of steam. It gives way to the most soft and incredibly fluffy bread.

But how does it taste? God, I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

I taste it.

It is heavenly. The olive oil in it makes it taste buttery – unplanned, but a happy surprise! And there’s enough garlicky and herby goodness in every bite to make you want another. Ah, how I love you, garlic bread…and then I tasted it again – just to be sure.

Naturally, the best things become better when shared, so out come my family from their hiding nooks to try my latest creation. They love it too, and I’m beaming that my recipe turned out perfect the first time around – No need to play with ratios and quantities, adjust temperatures or baking time.

Now, this would be a perfect addition to our Christmas feast. I make mental note of it and sample yet another piece. Smiling to myself at just the thought of a Christmas table setting. Yes, it will be perfect.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Like any bread recipe, this recipe will take time – but most of it is really just waiting for the bread to proof.

All you have to do is add your dough ingredients to a stand mixer and let it do the job. Then leave it to proof in a warm spot for an hour or so while you carry on with your day. When that time has lapsed, just roll it out, spread your garlic, parsley, oregano and olive oil mixture onto it, then sprinkle with a little salt. Cut your dough into strips, then curl and fold them randomly into knots and rolls – it’s the way to create those perfect folds.

Then allow to rise again before baking for 15-20 minutes. Not as hard as you thought, right? :P

SONY DSCSONY DSCgarlic-herb-bread_15_thelemonandjar.jpg

Ah… gotta love that fluffy, warm garlic bread!

Continue reading