Sausage, kale and tomato casserole

Before university, I used to cook or bake at home on average once a week. This gave me plenty of time all week to decide what I was going to cook and wait for inspiration to strike. It might be a recipe I read, an advert that made me crave something, watching an episode of Everyday Mary Berry. Now that I cook for myself every day, its pretty easy to run out of inspiration. My ideas tend to come from trawling through BBC Good Food or Delicious magazine until I spot something to work from. Or, in the case of this casserole, my friend kept mentioning she was having sausages for her tea. This made me crave sausages, which made me look in my fridge and see what needed using up that I could cook with them. And so a sausage, kale and tomato casserole (with a few peas thrown in for good measure) was born.

Sausage and tomato casserole

Sausage, kale and tomato casserole

Serves 3

I prefer to roast my sausages and add them to the casserole at the end, rather than fry them in the casserole dish at the beginning. Frying them probably adds extra depth of flavour, but I can’t be faffed with turning a spitting sausage for 15 minutes and hoping it cooks all the way through and doesn’t just char on the outside. If you are a more patient soul than me, try frying them first, removing whilst you cook the onion and then returning to the pan before the tomatoes and chicken stock.

  • 6 sausages
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 100g peas
  • 200g baby kale
  • sprinkling of thyme

Preheat the oven to 220’C. Line a baking tray with foil, add the sausages and roast for 20-25minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile, finely dice the onion. Cook in a large saucepan in a glug of oil over a gentle heat until soft and beginning to caramelise. Crush the garlic clove, add to the pan and cook out for 1-2 minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme and plenty of seasoning. Simmer for 10-15minutes until thickened and reduced slightly.

Add the peas, baby kale and cooked sausages. Stir to heat everything through. Serve and enjoy!

Parma ham wrapped chicken, spinach lentils, roasted tomatoes

My cooking at university tends to be largely one pot meals – casseroles, salads, pasta bakes. The sort of food you fill a bowl with and you are done. But as much as I enjoy the simplicity and minimal washing up of this style of cooking, every now and then a gal craves something fancier. Sometimes, the week just demands splurging on Parma ham in Waitrose and the posh vine tomatoes in Sainsbury’s and treating yourself (and no one else) to a proper dinner. The sort of food that looks like it came from one of those restaurant menus where all the dishes are just a list of ingredients. It’s still simple, but it is the sort of multi-element food that requires a proper plate and sitting at a table (or desk) instead of sofa (or bed). Who says cooking for one has to be boring?

Parma ham wrapped chicken, spinach lentils, roasted tomatoes

Parma ham wrapped chicken, spinach lentils, roasted tomatoes

This makes enough for two, but the second chicken breast and half of the lentils work just as well reheated a few days later for when you next need a proper meal. Recipe adapted from here.

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 slices of parma ham
  • 1 packet of vine tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 250g sachet of ready-cooked lentils
  • handful of baby spinach

Preheat the oven to 190’C. Wrap each chicken breast in a slice of Parma ham, placing the join of ham on the base of the chicken. Place on a lined baking tray, alongside two branches of tomatoes. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, finely dice the onion and cook in a saucepan on a gentle heat in a large glug of oil until soft and just beginning to caramelise. Crush the garlic, add to the saucepan and cook out for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and a further glug of olive oil to loosen the mixture. Stir for a few minutes to heat the lentils through. Tip in the handful of baby spinach and stir until just wilted.

To serve, spoon the spinach lentils on to a plate. Top with slices of the chicken breast, and add a vine of roasted tomatoes. Eat, enjoy, and bask in your classiness.

Ultimate Sausage Rolls

What is it about train stations and sausage rolls? I’ve been travelling between London and Cambridge a fair bit this week and every station I’ve passed through has been filled with the scent of freshly baked (or at least reheated) sausage rolls and pasties. Each time I was tempted, but I held out knowing that homemade would be far better.

Ultimate sausage rolls

When I pulled a tray of these out of my college oven, that familiar pastry aroma was back. This was swiftly followed by a girl who shares my kitchen commenting, ‘that’s a lot for one person’… clearly not understanding the joy of batch baking! One of these reheated in the oven, with a spoonful of baked beans and pile of steamed broccoli is going to my dinner for the next few days and I am more than okay with that.

Sausage rolls are so simple to make that a few easy touches can elevate them to the position of ‘ultimate’. Nigella seeds sprinkled on top add a touch of extra interest, using all-butter pastry ensures the best flakiness, interesting sausages will add more flavour than plain sausage meat with no extra effort from you. Trust me, these take 15 minutes to bake and will be far better than any station imitation.

Ultimate sausage rolls

Makes 4

  • 6 sausages (I used caramelised red onion ones)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 onion
  • 300g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sprinkling of nigella seeds

Preheat the oven to 200’C.

Use scissors to unpeel the sausages from their skins. Tip all the sausage meat into a bowl. Core and finely chop the apple – there is no need to peel it. Finely dice the onion. Add these to the sausage meat and mix everything together.

Unroll the puff pastry. Lay the sausage mixture down the centre of the pastry length ways. Lift the pastry around the meat and pinch together the join. Flip the long sausage roll over so this seam is on the base. Cut the roll into four and place on a lined baking sheet.

Brush each sausage roll with the beaten egg and top with a sprinkling of nigella seeds. Use a sharp knife to score three lines across the top of each one. Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is risen, golden and crisp.

Lamb and feta meatballs

I’m just no good at health kicks. At the end of this term here in Cambridge, we have May Week – a week in June (confusingly) of grand balls that go on all night – involving food stalls, live music and fairground rides it is like a week of mini festivals, providing the motivation to get through the exams that precede them. They are the fanciest events I’ll have ever been to – requiring long dresses and an entire afternoon to get ready. As a result, I am currently surrounded by a lot of people on health kicks. Eating salads, cutting out carbs, going high protein: the methods vary but the aim is the same. Whilst I completely admire and understand this, it leaves me and my supplies of rocky road for the gang a bit lost. I’ve never been good at a health kick: I can last two days of Greek salad before getting bored. And the way I make a Greek salad, with generous amounts of feta and good olive oil, probably aren’t that great for you. Nevertheless, I kept finding myself with a half-packet of feta languishing lonely at the back of my fridge. This was the recipe to solve that problem!

Lamb feta meatballs

I understand that most people out there, even students, don’t have a hob like me that turns off every seven minutes and so this recipe is for you! For me, this recipe means half an hour of standing in my tiny kitchen setting an alarm to remind myself to turn the hob back on the five times that it shut off whilst my meatballs cooked. For everyone else, this recipe can bubble away for half an hour on the cooker whilst you leave it to do some work (or watch an episode and a half of New Girl, whichever is more likely). Hob faff aside, the results are definitely worth it! I’ve had the basic premise of this recipe saved from the Smitten Kitchen blog for over a year now and I’m so pleased I finally got round to it. I simplified it a fair bit for my student budget, storage capabilities and timescale but I’m sure the extra herbs and red pepper involved in the original recipe would be equally delicious.

Lamb and feta meatballs in tomato sauce

For the meatballs:

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 55g feta, crumbled
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsps dried oregano
  • 2tbsps olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp dried oregano

Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl with plenty of salt and pepper. Shape into balls slightly smaller than a ping pong ball – I got about 16. Heat a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat, add a tbsp of oil and evenly space the meatballs in the pan: I tend to arrange them like a clock face so you know which ones to turn first. I did mine in 2 batches. Brown the meatballs all over, then remove to a bowl while you make the tomato sauce.

Wipe out all but a 1tbsp of oil from the frying pan and add the onion. Fry on a medium-low heat until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and let cook out for 30 seconds before adding the tin of tomatoes, salt and pepper. Return the meatballs to the sauce and simmer gently for 10-15minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Serve with rice and some extra crumbled feta. Serves 2 generously, or one plus lots of leftovers!