Penne pasta with ham, spinach and crumbly cheese

As you must have worked out by now I hate to waste food. This was an impromptu ‘using up’ meal; I had some white crumbly cheese which my parents left with me before they went on holiday, plus some spinach and ham which my lovely lodger had not managed to finish off before she went away for a few days, and would not have lasted (don’t worry,  I will replace it!). A very cheap and yummy lunch for a wet, stormy Sunday.

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Ingredients
This fed one person:
– 1 cup of Penne pasta
– a splash of Olive oil
– a teaspoon of dried Oregano
– a couple of slices of Ham
– two handfuls of Spinach
– 1/2 cup of crumbled white cheers  (I’m not sure what it was – I’ll have to ask my mother!)
– Black pepper
– a sprinkle of Chilli flakes

Method
Bring the pasta to the boil. Follow the instructions on the packet;  not all pasta takes the same length of time to cook.
While the pasta is cooking, crumble the cheese, rinse the spinach and shred the ham into small pieces.
Drain the pasta and add a splash of oil and the oregano. Next add the ham, spinach and cheese and put the lid back on the pan so that the spinach wilts, the cheese melts and the ham heats through; the hob does not need to be on at this point, it should have enough residual heat from cooking the pasta.
After a couple of minutes add some black pepper and give it a good stir.
Serve with a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

A delicious mistake

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Note: the photograph does not do it justice!

Whilst rummaging around in my freezer I found some pieces of leftover Christmas turkey and thought ‘a-ha!’ I can use up the coconut milk which I have in the fridge and make a Thai-ish curry. It ended up being very ‘-ish’ because it was only once I had started cooking that I realised that what I had defrosted was, in fact, gammon. I decided to go with it and was pleasantly surprised – the salty/smokey meat really worked with the Thai spices.

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Ingredients

Diced gammon (about a handful)
1/2 a sweet potato
1 small onion
1/2 pint approx of coconut milk
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 dried kaffir lime leaves.
2 strands of lemongrass
1 piece dried galangal.
1/2 teaspoon dried ground galangal
A splash of fish sauce

Method
Fry the onion and  chilli until the onions begin to soften, then add the sweet potato and other spices and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add the chunks of gammon and the coconut milk and simmer gently until the sweet potato is cooked.
Add a splash of fish sauce and serve with rice or rice noodles.

Leftovers Soup

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A family favourite  (apart from my sister who can’t stand the stuff) which is never the same twice. I always freeze leftover vegetables for this purpose and have recently made a habit of freezing meaty stock (often the extra liquid from my slow-cooker) in a silicone muffin tray, which can then be ‘popped’ out like icecubes.

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Tonight’s version used leftover roast potatoes from Christmas day, courgette, cauliflower and turkey stock.
The point of leftovers soup is that it uses up what you’ve got, so don’t worry if you don’t have all of the ingredients listed below. It is pretty important to have a base of onion and garlic but apart from that you can  experiment with different herbs and spices, I also rather  like to add bacon when I’m frying the onion if I have some. Note that if you use frozen stock it will probably be rather less salty than the bought stock which you are used to, so you may need to add more salt when you taste it.

Ingredients:
– an onion
– a clove of garlic
– a good pinch of mustard seeds
– a good pinch of cumin seeds
– stock
– paprika
– leftover veg, fully defrosted
– Almond milk (don’t worry if you don’t have this – any kind of milk will do)
– Creme fraiche

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Gently fry the onion, garlic, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the onion is becoming transparent turn off the heat and add the frozen stock (I used two ‘blocks’),  put a lid on the pan and leave the stock to melt in the residual heat.

Put your defrosted veg in the blender along with the onions and stock. Add Almond milk as you whizz it, continuing to blend until it is smooth and not far off the thickness that you would eat it. Return the whizzed soup to the pan, using some more milk to swill out the blender.

Slowly bring the the soup up to temperature,  trying not to let it boil. Add paprika,  salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a spoonful of Creme fraiche and a sprinkle of paprika on top.

… and enjoy because you will never have another soup quite like it again!
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P.s. I made some rather yummy soda bread to accompany it, but that’s a recipe for another day 🙂