Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and walnuts, baked in tomato sauce. This is not a quick weeknight dish: the pasta shells need to be pre-cooked unless you pour in floods of really watery tomato sauce – which you don’t want to do as drowning the pasta will dilute the filling.
A warm salad of Purple Majesty potatoes, zucchini and radishes. Dark potatoes are fairly common, but the ones I’d had before would turn ordinary white when boiled. Not these beauties! These are perfectly unique. To start with, the skin is almost completely black and while scrubbed, they reveal to have a thin film covering the tuber - like a second skin or, as I like to think, a veil.
Halloumi and vegetable skewers, vegetarian kebabs of cheese, mushrooms, peppers and onion drizzled with tangy marinade, as fantastic cooked on a barbecue as from the oven.
Halloumi burgers with roasted pepper, aubergine and onion. I love the cheese. Gorgeously rubbery, gooey but not dissolving, tasting of nothing much at all, it must be the mother of processed cheese. I bet the founders of Kraft Foods were Cypriots.
Hasselback gratin - potato slices stacked like dominoes, baked in creamy and cheesy sauce. They will have their bottoms cooking in the cheese mix and the tops will get scorchy, crispy, crusty, lacey and all the other lovely adjectives that can be applied to cheese.
Raw beetroot salad with simple dressing; a healthy fresh salad with sliced chioggia beetroot, grated cheese and lots of fresh herbs. Easy side dish or healthy lunch.
Herby courgette pasta bake, with roasted garlic and Pecorino, simple and super-tasty. The best thing to do with courgettes? Bake them with pasta!
Leek and potato bake in creamy cheese sauce. A little like Tartiflette but onions replaced with leeks, no bacon, and I didn’t try to resource Reblochon but cleared out the post dinner party cheeses.
Leek and potato soup, homemade is the best. Soup is the easiest, cheapest and quickest thing to cook at home. Especially if you are a proponent of Soup With Bits, like me – you won’t need a blender.
Lentil and mushroom bake with red peppers and a little spinach for vibrant colour. Lentils are cooked from scratch but no soaking required for this recipe.
Mac n cheese with leeks in cheesy béchamel sauce - the ultimate comfort food. Kraft introduced the quick and ready mac in a box in the 1930s during the Great Depression. But if you want to be posh you can call it pasta Mornay.
Muhammara, roasted red pepper and walnut dip, flavoured with pomegranate molasses and Aleppo pepper flakes. This should be a firm fixture in your next meze!
Ottolenghi inspired fondue filo pie, with butternut squash swapped for mushrooms. It’s a combo of Savoyarde raclette experience and a Greek or Middle Eastern filo pastry, and it’s excellent.
Wild or exotic mushroom ragu, perfect to serve over pasta or gnocchi. It is, truly, a masterly recipe and the addition of tomato ketchup a stroke of genius.
Mushroom risotto made with dried, rehydrated porcini and masses of Parmesan and butter is a royal feast. I love it just with a green salad.
Oatmeal and banana smoothie with chia seeds, dairy and gluten free but not free of taste. Briefly – the epitome of what I usually sneer at. Vegan. Gluten free. Dairy free.
French onion soup with toasted bread slices loaded with cheese. The best thing to eat on a cold winter’s day is soup. Something so comforting about a good bowl of soup – better than a stew, much better than a salad and it even beats cheese on toast – sometimes. Not that much beats cheese on toast in my view.
Crêpes, or wheat pancakes, with spinach and blue cheese filling. The batter is a doddle to make and it annoys me so to see the dry mix sold in supermarkets. Mix eggs with flour and milk – a toddler can do it, no? The art of pancake is tricky, but the difficulty lies in tools rather than ingredients.
Pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil. I love fresh tomatoes with good quality pasta. The question whether you should buy ’fresh’ supermarket pasta is a moot point – buy dry. Good.
Parsnip gratin, baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a hint of spice. Another way to zing up a boring vegetable – parsnip gratin. What to do with all those root veg when the sexy ones have all gone out of season?
Pasta fritta, fried pasta with asparagus, garlic and mint; the best thing to do with leftover pasta. Any pasta shape can be made into pasta fritta without eggs, or frittata pasta – with eggs mixed in.
Pasta with asparagus and lemon butter, served with lots of Parmesan. Three tricks pasta and I’m pleased to announce that this is truly a pasta template, versatile as anything. I give you the pasta with lemon and any veg, plus Parmesan because pasta can’t be without it.
Pasta with red and yellow peppers cooked down to sweet and silky sauce, also known as pasta peperonata. Who needs tomatoes?
Pear and grilled halloumi salad with roasted parsnip and salty pumpkin seeds. Everything is there: the wholesome, the sweet, the salty and the crunch. A perfect salad?
Leek and mushroom penne pasta bake with mascarpone and mozzarella. It's easy, it's cheesy; it's veggie, it's crispy - it's an ultimate comfort pasta bake.
Penne pasta with chanterelles and pied-de-moutons, and plenty of parmesan. A very simple dish – good ingredients don’t need elaborate processing, and fresh wild mushrooms are as good as it gets.
Persian baked rice with courgettes and mushrooms, and crispy tahdig layer at the bottom. I didn’t half struggle to achieve tahdig in my Persian style rice.
Persian rice with broad beans, baghali polo, is fragrant, green and yellow with dill and saffron. It’s a classic Iranian side dish for lamb shanks but who cares about lamb? Baghali polo is all you will want.
Piperade is the Basque take on ratatouille with the heat of espelette pepper. This recipe is easy and simple, like a lot of best things in life.
Polenta chips baked in the oven to a golden crisp, cooked from scratch with Parmesan and chives, and so much better than potato chips.
Potato and cabbage gratin, herby with sage and dill, cheesy with gruyere or Cheddar. Rich, warming and absolutely comforting – it’s an oven-baked antidepressant!
Potato and fennel gratin, a super-comfort dish of sliced potatoes and fennel baked in garlicky cream and a generous sprinkle of Gruyere or Cheddar.
Potato babka is an unusual and tasty alternative to a boring nut roast, the vegetarian Christmas or Thanksgiving option. Lavishly seasoned grated potato mass studded with peppers and mushrooms baked till crisp in a loaf tin.
Provolone pasta bake with homemade tomato marinara sauce. The best vegetarian pasta casserole recipe, with the tastiest sauce; topped with provolone which is the best melting cheese for pasta al forno dishes.
A summer salad of cucumbers, radish and lots of fresh herbs with feta cheese and a simple dressing. Cucumber, my favourite underrated fruit is usually included in vaguely Greek salads with tomato and feta cheese.
Easy one pan ratatouille with courgettes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes, cooked on the hob. Classic side dish made simple.
Raw broccoli salad with fragrant Asian dressing. NY Times inspired salad of fresh raw broccoli marinated in garlic and sesame dressing.
Chunks of beetroot roasted with honey, thyme, tarragon and balsamic vinegar. This is really gorgeous – beetroot baked long, loooong, you might even consider biscuit beetroot: cooked twice.
Roasted red peppers, soft cheese and basil salad. The peppers actually will keep very well in oil or the type of dressing I suggested below; you can jar them and they will keep even longer.
Roasted Mediterranean vegetable mix with a topping of crumbled feta and toasted pine nuts. It’s vegetarian, it’s wholesome and it’s healthy.
Salt baked celeriac, sweet and earthy and a Michelin grade impressive centrepiece dish. Salt crust made from flavoured salt and flour, you crack it open like an enormous soft boiled egg. Or a pathologist opening the skull.
Salty porridge with mixed seed topping and red pepper slices. This is definitely for the brekkie-believers, but it’s porridge sans sugar so will alleviate some guilt. You know, it’s actually very tasty - and can be varied, with spinach, with mushrooms - or bacon of course.
Takeaway-style sesame noodles with spring onions and beans, served with chopped peanuts and cucumbers. These are plain, vegetarian, sesame flavoured, takeaway-style noodles with peanuts, cucumber and beans.
Spanakopita, Greek spinach pie wrapped in filo pastry. Pies are a whole skills set; unless you call meat covered with puff pastry a pie (don’t). Pie needs a bottom as well as the hat and they both should be crusty, not soggy.
Spelt risotto with pearled spelt grain and dried porcini mushrooms is a gorgeous vegetarian dish: wholesome, flavoursome and effortless.
Spelt and marinated courgette salad, with pine nuts and creamy blue cheese dressing. Much easier to cook than rice, more nutritious than pasta, spelt is the future of salads!
Spiced roasted cauliflower with togarashi seasoning and cinnamon. Melted butter, a grating of Parmesan and it's a vert tasty side or lunch dish.
Spicy, cheesy lentils bake, a superior vegetarian dish put together in 15 minutes. Baked cheesy lentils inspired by NY Times Cooking.
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