Saturday, 24 May 2014

Italian Buffet Leftovers Three Ways

A couple of weeks ago I cooked an Italian Buffet for the girls (which mostly consisted of pizza!) and I had a fair few left over ingredients. There was a couple of chicken breasts left from the Chicken Pesto Pizza, some pasta salad, mushrooms, salsa (from the crisp dipping that always occurs on girls night!) and a few bits from the olive selection. So I decided to use these ingredients to feed me for the next week (just about!) and this is how I did it...

Leftovers 1

On the first day I basically bunged everything into a pan with some chopped tomatoes and a little balsamic and made a lovely rich, slightly spicy, tomato dish.

First off, chop a red onion and throw into the pan with a splash of oil (I actually just poured in the oil from the olive platter, so we already had some of those lovely flavours cooking away!)

Crush any left garlic from the olive platter and another clove for good measure, and stir into the onions. Then dice the chicken and add to the pan. Cook until all of the chicken is sealed, then add in the mushrooms, chopped.

As the mushrooms are starting to shrink, add the leftover salsa, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a dash of balsamic vinegar if you've got it, and some dried herbs. I can't honestly remember what I used but maybe something like basil and a little oregano would work well! Give it a good twist of salt and black pepper as well.

Simmer away then add the olives - chopped so that the flavour spreads throughout the dish. I included the chillies as well, but left out the stuffed peppers (I say left out - I actually ate them as I was cooking!!)

I would then leave with a lid part on for about 10minutes or so, making sure that the chicken is cooked through and has soaked up all of those yummy Italian flavours. But don't overdo it on day 1 as you'll be reheating this dish again!!

I served this with left over pasta salad, shredded iceberg lettuce, garlic bread and some grated parmesan over the top for good measure. Now tell me - does this look like a proper plate of leftovers or what?

Save the rest of the tomato chicken stew in the fridge - you'll need this again!

Then I popped the rest of the pasta salad in a tupperware, ready to take for a working lunch the next day!

Leftovers 2

The next evening I fancied rice instead, so I cooked a portion of rice according to packet instructions and heated up a portion of the tomato chicken. Served with some rocket and a little more balsamic - this was absolutely delicious!

Leftovers 3

The third variation on this dish was in a pasta bake. I cooked a couple of portions of pasta in a pan of boiling water until just underdone. Then mix in with the remaining tomato chicken and grate with a little parmesan. Bake in the oven for about 15minutes at 180degrees, or until the sauce is bubbling away and the chicken is heated through. This pasta bake then did the next night as well!

So there you have it - leftover ingredients from one meal, cooked in three different ways and lasting four dinners and a lunch! Not bad going really!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Italian Buffet with Friends!

Hello and welcome back! 

A huge thank you to everyone who has continued to check out my recipes and things, even though I've been blog-absent for far too long! I am so excited to say I now have a laptop again, so I plan to post weekly(ish) as before... And to kick it all off I thought I'd share a few super simple recipes that I made on Saturday night for the girls as a bit of an Italian Buffet Feast!

The recipes are for three different pizzas - Carbonara Pizza, Chicken Pesto Pizza and Pepperoni Pizza - and a Pasta Salad. The pizza recipes are my own, but the tasty pasta salad was taken from the handy little book, Everyday Pasta, published by Parragon 2009. Served with a basic green salad, some mixed olives and a ton of garlic bread, this buffet worked a treat (though I had to take the photo of the table before adding everything to it because the girls were dying to tuck in!) It made a wonderfully easy meal as it can nearly all be prepped in advance, so it's perfect if you don't want to miss out on any of the catch up! Admittedly a carb heavy buffet but undeniably tasty with a glass or two of a good Pinot and some lovely company.

Carbonara Pizza

pack of pizza base mix (for an 8" pizza)
1/2 cup of double cream
1 medium egg
black pepper
olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
a couple of handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
parmesan cheese
a few pieces of parma ham
a couple of handfuls of rocket (optional)
balsamic syrup (optional)

Make the pizza base according to packet instructions, but make sure to roll is out really nice and thin to get a lovely crispy base (mine was much bigger than the suggested 8"). Leave it to rise slightly on a piece of baking paper while you prepare the topping.

Whisk together the cream and egg. Add a good twist of black pepper and leave to the side for a moment.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for a couple of minutes then add the mushrooms for a further minute (these will be cooked in the oven so don't overdue them at this stage). Add the cream mixture to the pan and grate in as much parmesan as you want! Give it a quick mix around then empty back into your jug or bowl to cool.

When you're nearly ready to serve your pizza then preheat the oven to about 220 degrees. Spread the cream mixture over your base and rip over the parma ham. Grate a little more parmesan over the top and pop in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the topping is turning golden and the edges are just starting to crisp up.

If using, then scatter rocket over your cooked pizza and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Enjoy!

Chicken Pesto Pizza

pack of pizza base mix (for an 8" pizza)
2 tablespoons of basil pesto (I used shop bought to save on time but if you can be bothered to make your own then definitely do!)
olive oil
2 chicken breasts, baked in the oven for about 30mins wrapped loosely in silver foil then sliced (or buy some ready cooked)
1 small courgette, grated
a handful of pine nuts
about 1/2 – 1 ball of mozzarella, depending on how cheesy you'd like it!
parmesan cheese

See above for making your base then preheat the oven to about 220degrees when you're ready to cook pizza. Spread the pesto evenly over the base and drizzle with a little olive oil, mixing it around on the pizza to thin the pesto slightly.

Spread over your cooked chicken pieces, grated courgette and pine nuts. Rip the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter over the top. Grate with a little parmesan then pop in the oven for about 10 minutes or until all of the cheese is melted.


Pepperoni Pizza

pack of pizza base mix (for an 8" pizza)
about two tablespoons tomato purée
about a tablespoon of water
olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon of herbs (try basil and oregano if you've got them!)
salt and black pepper
a selection of pepperoni pieces
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 ball of mozzarella

Make your pizza base as above, then preheat your oven to 220degrees when ready.

Mix together the tomato purée, water, a dash of olive oil, garlic, herbs and a good twist of salt and pepper. Spread this evenly over your base, then scatter the pepperoni, onion and pepper pieces. Finish by ripping mozzarella into small pieces and spreading around.

Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling away, then serve!

Pasta Salad

As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is not my own - it was taken from the Everyday Pasta book, published by Parragon, and adapted for this buffet. The recipe asks for parmesan but I figured that the feast was already so cheesy that I'd leave it out, and it is also meant to be served warm (called Warm Pasta Salad in the book!) but I prepared earlier in the day and served cold. I've also changed the quantities to match my haphazard way of cooking - but seriously, who measures out pasta to the gram?!

2 or 3 handfuls of dried farfalle or other pasta shades
6 pieces of sun-dried tomato in oil, drained and chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
a handful of rocket, chopped
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil
a good pinch of caster sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
a few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (or a teaspoon of dried if you forgot to pick it up like me!)

Make the dressing first by whisking the liquids together. Season with salt and pepper and add the basil.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, then drain and toss in the dressing.

If serving warm, then add the remaining ingredients and sprinkle with parmesan cheese (if using) now. If serving cold later then I'd recommend waiting to add your salad once the pasta has cooled to avoid the leaves becoming soggy.

And there you have it! A carb heavy, but satisfyingly simple Italian buffet... crack open a bottle of Pinot and enjoy with friends next weekend!