Comments Off on Asparagus, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Pasta by Ren Behan
This pasta dish of asparagus, smoked salmon and cream cheese is very quick to make with just a few ingredients. Ren uses small penne tubes, though any small pasta shapes work well with this almost-instant cream cheese sauce.
Kids in the Kitchen
Pasta – This dish can be made with any pasta, so let your kids be boss and choose what shape/type you use. What if they want to use 2 different types with different boiling times?! The perfect mini math lesson. Don’t forget to use a timer, kids love waiting for a timer to go off and this will help you to remember to add the next type of pasta at the right time.
Asparagus – Keep those little fingers busy and let them have a go at chopping or even using their hands to break the asparagus spears into 1 inch pieces. If using a knife to chop, please be there to supervise your child.
Recipe Courtesy of Ren Behan author of Wild Honey and Rye
This Roasted Vegetable Orzo is one of my favourite dishes. Like this Fresh Tomato Pasta I have made it so many times it’s second nature now. What I love about it is all you have to do is prep the vegetables and leave them to bake in the oven, make the lemon garlic dressing, then boil the Orzo and mix everything together. I’ve made this recipe for a large crowd before which proved really easy due to the lack of hands on time and had many compliments. Orzo, if you’re not familiar with it, looks like rice in appearance but is really a form of short cut pasta and can be found at most supermarkets. It’s very versatile and great in pasta salads too.
We’ve been having some lovely weather this autumn. Luna, one of ProWare’s pooches, has been making the best of it soaking in the sunshine while I’ve been able to snap some photos outside using the fabulous light.
If you want to make this recipe vegan, omit the feta cheese and perhaps add in a handful or two of sliced olives. I often replace the feta in recipes with olives, especially when I have my vegan friends around for dinner. Olives have a very similar taste to feta due to the saltiness of them. The garlic lemon dressing in this recipe really amplifies the flavours of the vegetables and brings a light citrus flavour to the pasta.
Arrange the aubergine, peppers and shallots between the two roasting trays, drizzle over 3 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Place in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring them after 20 minutes and then adding the halved tomatoes to each tray then add a little bit more olive oil and seasoning. Return to oven to roast for the remaining 20 minutes. At this point bring water to boil in a large saucepan and add Orzo with about 5 minutes left on roasting time, stirring immediately to avoid sticking. Cook according to package instructions.
Check and remove the vegetables from the oven when they are cooked and the tomatoes are tender and slightly wrinkled.
Dry toast the pine nuts in a mini pan or other small saucepan/frying pan until slightly browned, remove from heat and set to one side.
Once the orzo is cooked, strain water through a fine sieve or colander. Now place the orzo into your large bowl, adding the garlic lemon dressing mixing well. Next add the roasted vegetables, Feta cheese, pine nuts then lastly the fresh herbs. Mix well and check the seasonings. Add more salt/pepper and red chilli flakes if desired. Serve straight away.
My 5-year-old must ask for this meal 2-3 times a week. I do try and vary mealtimes a little more than that, but his demands are met at least fortnightly, if not weekly!
The recipe is so quick and easy to make, it is packed with the good stuff and is perfect for making the night before when I know we’re going to be back late from an after school club (usually football in our house!) – 10 minutes heating up while the pasta cooks and voila!
Written by Rachel
Kids in the Kitchen
Chorizo – A challenge for little fingers, get your kids to try and peel the skin off the chorizo. This isn’t necessary though will make the chorizo more tender having removed it but may be fun for them to try and also may keep them entertained for a while.
Pasta – Get out the scale and measure how much pasta you need. If each person typically eats 100 grams pasta and there are 4 of you altogether, how many grams is that in total! If they are into this you can have a more fun with the scale by weighing 10 or 20 pieces of pasta and work out how many pieces will feed one person and so on.
Have you ever tried making your own pesto? It’s so simple, quick to make, fresh and you can substitute so many of the ingredients to suit what you have in your cupboards. Below are the various versions I have made finally settling on the Spinach and Basil Pesto.
Curly kale, hempseed, garlic, lemon and flax oil pesto (with and without adding a cup of basil) – This yielded nice results. Use the same amount of hempseeds as you would Pine nuts and 3-4 cups Kale. The hempseeds can be hard to find in UK supermarkets, but are very good for you and packed with protein. So if you’re interested in trying this, finding them online or at a health store is probably your best bet. Flax oil brings a lovely nutty flavour to pestos, but make sure not to heat any left over pesto made with flax oil because it should not be heated, however it will be ok if added to warm pasta.
Cavolo nero kale, hempseed, garlic, lemon and flax oil pesto (with and without adding a cup of basil) – I found this type of kale quite bitter, which was refreshing, but not my favourite of all the different types I tried. Make sure to remove the centre rib of this kale before adding it to the food processor.
Curly kale, Pine nuts, garlic, lemon and olive oil pesto – I found the pine nuts yielded a smoother pesto than the ones made with hemp-seeds as they seemed to break down more in the food processor.
Spinach, walnut, garlic, lemon and olive oil pesto – Tasty, not much different to the full recipe below.
Baked spaghetti squash with homemade pesto – This was absolutely delicious and a fabulous alternative to traditional spaghetti if you are going gluten free. A friend of mine brought a spaghetti squash over, we baked this in the oven (how to bake spaghetti squash) and mixed in some pesto. Since then I’ve looked everywhere in order to recreate it but can’t find them anymore, hence why this version didn’t make the final cut. Do keep your eye out for this squash next autumn though because they are a very tasty, low-carb alternative to spaghetti.
In the below recipe, I’ve used whole wheat organic pasta, wild salmon and limited the amount of Parmesan to a light sprinkling before serving in order to make this healthier.
I’ve also added spinach to the pesto which ups the usual vegetable content of pesto.
Peel the garlic and blitz it in the food processor until finely chopped.
Add the spinach, basil, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and chilli flakes (if using). Blitz again a few times, then gradually start to add the olive oil. After it is slightly mixed, open the food processor and use the spatula to scrape down the edges of the bowl.
Continue to blitz the mixture until it is smooth. If you would like a more creamy pesto add 1-2 tablespoons of water and blitz until the desired smoothness is achieved.
Cooking Method – Salmon and Pasta
Preheat oven to 200°C and bring a medium to large saucepan with water on to boil.
Put the salmon fillets on a foil lined baking dish or on a tray, skin side down. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper then spread a heaped tablespoon of pesto onto the top of each fillet. Reserve the remaining pesto on one side for the pasta.
Transfer the salmon to the oven and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes. Salmon can cook quite quickly depending on its thickness, so keep an eye on it as it is done when it is easily flaked. At the same time, start your pasta in the boiling water and cook according to instructions on packaging.
Strain the pasta when it has reached desirable tenderness and mix in the remaining pesto. Serve the pasta in pasta bowls or plates.
Remove the salmon from the oven when ready and place on top of the pasta to serve. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
This dish is a regular in our house since my father-in-law made it for my husband and me a few years ago. It’s based on a recipe from the Silver Spoon Pasta cookbook, if you haven’t heard of the Silver Spoon cookbook this review of their pasta book is worth a read. For this recipe I’ve increased the amount of tomatoes and pasta, because the tomatoes are my favourite part and we tend to eat larger portions of pasta than the original recipe calls for. We also added the Parmesan and Pecorino.
Here is the tomato mixture ready to be covered and left to sit for 20 minutes. This helps intensify the flavour in the tomatoes as well as infusing them with garlic.
I usually serve this pasta dish with meat balls, but it is great on its own too!
Written by Corin
Kids in the Kitchen
Herbs – The basil leaves need tearing or slicing, so get those little fingers to work. Get them to count out the 10 needed and tear them into the bowl for the tomatoes.
Tomatoes – One for the older children as slicing tomatoes can be tricky without a sharp knife. I find sometimes using a serrated knife can do the job really well so let them try this and make sure to supervise too.
Grating – Grating, especially hard cheeses like the ones in this recipe are a great way to get kids of all ages involved. If you have a multiple sided grater, let the child choose what side they use or if you have a rotary grater too this can be a lot of fun and great for fine motor skills too!
Slice the tomatoes into quarters by slicing from where the stem attaches to the bottom. Place in a bowl with garlic and basil, and stir in the sea salt, ground pepper and olive oil. Cover with a plate and leave to sit for 20-25 minutes, stirring once throughout the process.
Cook the linguine in the sauce pan to desired tenderness. Strain the pasta through a sieve and return the pasta to the sauce pan, however the sauce pan does not need to be returned to heat.
Add the cheese to the sauce pan and stir well until melted. Remove the garlic pieces from the tomato mixture then add the tomatoes to the pasta and stir well. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan and enjoy.
*Make it vegetarian – find suitable vegetarian alternative cheese to grate into and over the pasta. Serve without meatballs.
**Make it vegan – omit all cheese and add 5-10 grams nutritional yeast. Serve without meatballs.