Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg

Want to up the veg but are craving carbs big time and you want more variety than just more baked potatoes?

To make this dish a quick one (~25 mins), you need to choose vegetables that cook quickly in a fry pan. My new favourite kitchen technique for cooking things quickly is ribboning your vegetables! It almost feels like you get more yield per individual vegetable as opposed to slicing them up. Easy as, all you need to do is peel your veggie of choice (usually carrot, eggplant or in this case zucchini) and peel and peel and peel to get long thin slices that will cook in about 2-3 minutes. Amazing!

Next, to pump up the veg even more i threw in some cherry tomatoes and chopped green beans! I added in chicken as well to satisfy the family taste buds but for work lunches i’d probably omit it for cost and longevity in the fridge reasons. This dish is also conveniently dairy free.

Anyway, let’s get into the recipe!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

3 cups spiral/fusilli pasta (I use Barilla)

1 small chicken breast, sliced into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with peeler

handful fresh green beans, chopped into even pieces

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways

Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup baby spinach

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 clove garlic, grated with microplane/crushed

zest of 1/2 lemon, grated with microplane

salt to season

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook based on packet instructions.
  2. In a pulse blender, add all the pesto ingredients and blitz until at the desired consistency (not a paste but not too chunky). Set aside
  3. In a lightly oiled fry pan on a medium heat, cook the chicken until 90% cooked. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and pesto. Stir well ensuring the pesto coats all ingredients.
  6. Strain cooked pasta and add to the fry pan of ingredients. Mix well to coat pasta in pesto. Serve immediately.*

Chicken Pesto Pasta

*Can be served cold. Will keep in the fridge for ~3 days (with chicken) and ~5 days (without chicken).

 

Advertisements

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Spinach Fritters

Firstly, I’d like to say I hope you all had a lovely holiday season! I had a very relaxing three weeks off work where I ventured off to New Zealand for the first time and fell in love with the exquisite landscapes and sense of adventure. Now it’s back to work, routine and most importantly, cooking!

It has been a little while since I’ve shared a recipe and this tends to happen when I get really comfortable with things I have already shared so I end up making mostly the same types of meals. Alas, new year and time for something different!

As usual, I was really keen to leverage on ingredients I had at home with only minimal additional purchases required. I go through phases where I enjoy eating certain types of food and then go off them for a while and in this instance, it’s quinoa. I had half a packet of perfectly good quinoa ready to go but wasn’t feeling a salad or adding it to my granola so went with this recipe today!

For any type of patty or fritter (if you want to keep it vego), potato works as the glue to keep it all together so I used sweet potato to give it some solid flavour!

This recipe is will take approximately 30 minutes as the sweet potato and quinoa require cooking first before making the patties.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Spinach Fritters (yields 6)

What you’re going to need

1 medium sized sweet potato (mine weight approximately 600 grams), roughly chopped into small pieces

1-1 1/2 cups quinoa, cook according to packet instructions

generous handful baby spinach

zest of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, crushed

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for baking

Method

  1. Bake the sweet potato at 200 degrees Celcius on a lined tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt. At the same time, cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Both of these should take 20 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, add all the ingredients. Pulse blend on medium until well combined but not too smooth. (You don’t want a paste, more of a chunky mixture that can be moulded in your hands)
  3. Using gloves or clean hands, grab a handful of mixture and shape into a ball then flatten with your palm until approximately 1cm thick. Repeat until all mixture has been used.
  4. In a non stick/lightly oiled fry pan that is on a medium heat, add the patties and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (Note: the mixture is already cooked, this is mainly to add the crispy outside)
  5. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or a simple yoghurt sauce*

Sweet Potato Quinoa and Spinach Fritters


*Simple yoghurt sauce

What you’re going to need

2 heaped tablespoons Natural Yoghurt

juice from ~1/2 a lemon

sea salt

pinch mixed herbs

extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients at desired quantities. Serve cold.

Sausage Pasta Bake

Even though the weather is getting warmer, I am still persistent on baking most of my meals! Especially coming towards the end of the year with my first accounting exam and last colour belt grading for martial arts, I am willing to do just about anything to make the cooking process more efficient. I would love to spend hours in the kitchen but at the moment, I just can’t. Alas, I still want to create tasty meals for my family and keep up with my Sunday family dinner routine.

If you trawl back through some of my older posts, you’ll see I have already shared a few pasta bake recipes however this is my first tomato based one. I kept it simple and whipped up the sauce and ingredients all in one pan! (separate saucepan for boiling pasta though). If you’re super hungry and want to eat it quicker, you can skip the baking step! However if you’re all about the gooey cheese factor, then would strongly recommend finishing it off in the oven. It also makes it easier to portion for leftovers (which I accidentally catered for 6 people instead of 4 so now I have enough for lunches, yay!)

Sausage Pasta Bake (serves 4-6)

What you’re going to need

300 grams large spiral pasta (I used San Remo)

6 medium sized beef sausages

1 400g bottle Passata

1/2 zucchini, finely grated

1/2 carrot, finely grated

1 clove garlic, grated with Microplane or minced

4 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

handful basil leaves

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for frying

grated cheese for topping

Method

  1. Boil a large pot of water with salt and cook pasta until just under al dente (still a bit firm as it will further cook in the oven). Set aside.
  2. In a large fry pan, heat up the olive oil on a medium heat. Brown the sausages in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside on a chopping board.
  3. Reduce the heat in the pan to low, add a bit more olive oil and then add the carrot, zucchini and garlic. Stir and leave to become fragrant. Whilst this is happening, go back to the sausages and cut them into 2 cm sliced chunks.
  4. Once pan is fragrant, add the Passata, sausages and mushrooms. Mix well and season. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Whilst simmering, turn on your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  5. Once the Passata has reduced, add the cooked pasta and basil. Stir well to ensure all pasta is adequately coated in the sauce.
  6. In a large baking dish, carefully spoon all the pasta mix into the dish and spread evenly. Top with a generous helping of grated cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot. *

Sausage Pasta Bake

*Recipe is freezer friendly if there are leftovers.

 

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad

Long time no see! I have been cheating on my kitchen with my credit card lately and it is now time to put a stop to that! I feel like my latest obsession is cheese (well it’s been a long running thing but it’s definitely concentrated at the moment). Last week, a couple of friends and i ventured out to Carriageworks for Bon Fromage a cheese festival which were giving out free samples of a diverse spread of European cheeses! It was actually heaven and unlike most places that offer freebies, this was a table absolutely filled with all you can eat cheese. It was the place of dreams.

Alas, stemming from that, i have eating a lot of haloumi lately because a) it’s delicious b) it serves as a filling sub in for meat c) it cooks in less than 2 minutes! The only downside to haloumi is that it doesn’t travel well. It is best eaten straight off the pan. So for my Sunday lunch where I am at home, it works a treat.

Grocery day today means I had minimal supplies in the fridge which is perfect for me since I find I am the most creative when I have a  limited number of ingredients. (very Masterchef mystery box type of thing).

If haloumi and sweet potato are sounding good to you so far, keep on reading and you can whip this salad up for yourself!

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad (serves 1)

What you’re going to need

1 small sweet potato (~ 100 grams), sliced small and evenly

75 grams haloumi, sliced evenly

4 perino tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways (cherry tomatoes would work here too)

handful mixed green leaves

1 tablespoon walnuts, roughly chopped

extra virgin olive oil for baking + additional for drizzle

salt and pepper, to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a lined baking tray add the sweet potato and tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil and bake for ~ 10 minutes (baking time will vary depending on how big you cut your potato!)
  3. With two minutes to go, cook the haloumi in a non stick fry pan on a medium heat. (Haloumi burns easily so don’t take your eyes off it)
  4. Once the haloumi is cooked, plate up everything and finish off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad

 

Chicken Stir Fry with Hokkien Noodles

This is my 100th post on The Economic Foodie! Just wanted to start off by saying thank you to everyone who follows my blog and has tried out some of my recipes! I really appreciate your support and thoroughly enjoy engaging with the food blogging community. 

If you have been following me for a bit, you will know from my previous posts that I cook family dinner every Sunday. This is a great chance for me to refine my cooking skills as well as learn new ones. Surprisingly, I have never really cooked stir fry until the last week! It’s not because I don’t enjoy them or think they are overly difficult, it’s just one that slipped down the to do list until now.

I have now started study again and I am incredibly time poor. I still hope to keep my passionate hobby of cooking alive during this time and Sundays will be a standing reservation for me in my kitchen. However I will now be trying out recipes and experimenting with dishes that I can make in less than an hour and with the least amount of washing up as possible (since Sundays are also my dishes night at home).

Alas, stir fry! I have based this on the way my mum prepares hers but with a few minor tweaks. There is loads of veg and very minimal prep involved. It is also an easy recipe to make extra serves which works perfectly for work lunch the next day!

Alright, enough story telling. Time for noodles!

Chicken Stir Fry with Hokkien Noodles (serves 5)

What you’re going to need 

500 g chicken thighs, sliced into strips

400 g hokkien noodles

bunch brocollini, stems trimmed

100-200 g asian mushrooms (I used Enoki but you can use shiitake or oyster if you prefer)

1 bunch bok choy

8 baby corns, chopped in half

small handful snowpeas

1/4 cup oyster sauce

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

peanut oil for frying

Method

  1. In a wok on a high heat, heat up around 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. Once hot, cook the chicken until cooked through (~5 minutes). Remove from wok and set aside.
  2. Heat up one tablespoon of peanut oil.. Once hot, add all the veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes until they have shrunk and are almost cooked through.
  3. Add back in the chicken as well as the sauces. Mix well.
  4. Lastly stir through the noodles (I used noodles that do not require pre cooking). Mix well until sauce coats the noodles and everything is evenly mixed.
  5. Serve hot!

Chicken Stir Fry

 

 

 

Chicken Pasta Bake

Meal prep madness continues once again. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that I cook a lot of pasta and have absolutely no regrets. I’m all for carbs and I do eat them in moderation even if it might not seem like I do.

What I love about pasta for meal prep is its ability to freeze. For people who want to prep but are relatively time poor or just lazy, something you can bake and cut into even portions works a treat. Alas, pasta bake is a staple meal for me.

I parked the tinned tuna for the time being and moved onto chicken. My second favourite cooking technique (after baking) is poaching! Poached chicken is a no fail technique for perfectly juicy chicken. I elevated this dish by poaching my chicken in chicken stock! If you do have the time, I would recommend making your own chicken stock (I will put a recipe below in case you’re interested***). Poaching in water will still render you with perfectly juicy chicken so don’t fret if you don’t want to use stock.

So pasta, chicken… what else? This time around I threw in some bacon, spinach and mushrooms to balance out the dish. Then comes the sauce that combines this altogether. My go to for pasta bakes is bechamel. So if this is all sounding like it will tantalise your taste buds, here is the recipe below.

Chicken Pasta Bake (serves 4)

What you’re going to need 

2 heaped cups of Fusilli pasta (I have used San Remo)

1 small chicken breast (~150-200 grams)

2 slices short cut bacon, thinly sliced

3 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

handful spinach, thinly sliced

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

Bechamel

2 tablespoons margarine

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock (or water) to a simmer. Place the chicken breast in and ensure it is fully submerged. Cook for 25 minutes
  3. Whilst the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Set aside once cooked.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the liquid and set to cool slightly on a clean chopping board. Once safe to touch, use a fork to shred the breast meat. Set aside.
  5. For the bechamel, in a small non stick saucepan, melt the margarine on a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until flour has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk until well combined. Add back to the heat and whisk until mixture has thickened.
  6. Using the large saucepan used for the chicken (rinse first), add all the ingredients except for the cheddar cheese. Mix well until all ingredients are covered in the sauce.
  7. In a large baking dish, pour the mixture and spread evenly. Top with grated cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and darkened (note that the bacon, spinach and mushrooms go into the mixture raw and require cooking whilst in the oven).
  8. Remove from the oven and either serve immediately or allow to cool completely before packaging up for the freezer.

Chicken Pasta Bake


*** Basic chicken stock recipe

What you’re going to need

1/2 kilo chicken wings/chicken drumsticks/cheap cut chicken with bones

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 carrot roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

12 black peppercorns

salt to season

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat up some olive oil on a medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned.
  2. Add all the other ingredients as well as ~2 litres of water (enough to cover the ingredients but not too much excess as this will dull down the flavour).
  3. Place on a lid then set and forget! (well not completely but for a while). This gets better with time so give yourself a couple of hours minimum to develop a strong flavour!

Chicken stock is freezer friendly so save your leftovers!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

Another weekend, another opportunity to stock my freezer with prepared meals for work lunches! Yes there is more to my life than meal prep I promise but I have always found cooking quite therapeutic so it’s always a breeze for me to prepare my own food for work and not worry about foraging every lunch time!

I find at home that we end up with bits and pieces leftover from where we have tried new recipes or have just decided to experiment with different ingredients. As a result, we at my household tend to end up with random portions of ingredients which often get neglected or unfortunately thrown out if they’re there for long enough…

Alas, leftover meal prep is my favourite. Ideally with this approach, you only need to purchase maybe one or two ingredients to make a complete dish. In this case, I only bought some basil as it is a seasonal herb and our current garden supply has died off. Our lovely next door neighbour kindly donated some of her homegrown spinach which I put to use straight away. An ingredient that goes perfectly with spinach, feta! Feta is basically a staple in my house. With these and a couple of other bits and pieces, we have a dish!

Let’s get into it!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

12 giant pasta shells

1 bunch spinach, stems removed

150 g feta

1/4 cup walnuts

6 basil leaves

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Cook pasta shells as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a pulse blender/food processer, add the spinach, feta, walnuts, basil, salt and pepper. Blitz until well combined and a chunky paste is formed.
  4. Have a medium sized baking dish ready. Carefully hold a pasta shell (as they are still very hot) and place a spoonful of mixture inside. Place inside the baking dish. Continue until all shells and mixture have been used. Once all in, place as much or as little grated cheddar on top as you like.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese on top has melted and darkened.
  6. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and then package up in the freezer.

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells