Roasted vegetable pasta sauce

IMG_4959With only 3 weeks until our baby is due I am busy batch cooking for the freezer. Most meals that we have had lately have been doubled or tripled to allow extra to be frozen for those first few weeks with a newborn. At last count we have around 25 meals for two in there, so all one of us will have to do is defrost and reheat one and cook some carbs such as pasta or rice to serve alongside it. We have sausage and fennel seed ragu, lamb meatballs, Bolognese, chilli con carne and beef casserole amongst other meals.

I was contacted by Thomson’s Al Fresco to see if I would be interested in coming up with an Italian, Spanish or French recipe using ingredients from a hamper they would supply filled with foods from one of these countries. No surprises that I chose the Italian hamper. The hamper contained 5 different types of pasta, a jar of tomato pasta sauce, a jar of wild boar ragu, a tube of tomato puree and a bottles of balsamic vinegar. Initially I was not that inspired by the contents of the hamper although clearly I knew I would have to make a pasta dish. With all the red meat based meals in the freezer, I decided to make a big batch of pasta sauce that was red meat free. This recipe is very straight forward and made enough for 8 people. The type and quantities of vegetables can also easily be adapted to your choice as well. For instance I’m not a big fan of courgette so I kept the amount of that low but you could add more if you wanted.

Roasted vegetable pasta sauce

3 peppers, deseeded and roughly diced
2 large aubergines, roughly diced
1 medium courgette, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely diced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp dried oregano
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tomato puree
500g passata
Dried pasta

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180 fan). Put the peppers, aubergine, courgette, garlic and oregano in a roasting tin and drizzle over some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine, adding more olive oil if necessary to ensure all the vegetables are covered.
  • Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.
  • Meanwhile slowly cook the red onion slices in olive oil over a low heat until softened (approximately 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook it out for a couple of minutes before adding the onions/tomato puree and passata to the roasted vegetables. Return the tray to the oven for 15- 20 minutes, stirring once. Mean while cook the pasta until al dente. Serve the pasta and sauce with a grating of parmesan over the top.

Happy new year

IMG_4853This year I’m going to by-pass the review of the previous year’s blog content because I’m sure you’ll have noticed there was not a lot of content on the blog apart from fresh from the oven posts. I’m also not going to make any promises or resolutions to blog more in 2013 because I’ve been keeping a secret. 2013 will be a year of big changes, as myself and my husband are expecting our first baby in April.

My husband has taken over a lot of the cooking since September. Today though I started the year off well by cooking us a delicious chorizo and bean stuffed chicken (from Gordon Ramsey’s ultimate cookery course) alongside some homemade flat breads. The food was delicious and I enjoyed the time in the kitchen. If I was making new years resolutions it would definitely be to get back to cooking and baking bread more but I’m going to take the year as it comes. Happy new year everyone!

Idealo holiday reads challenge 2012

This summer foodie 100 are running a holiday reads club to see what food bloggers are reading in their spare time. As part of the club Idealo UK are purchasing £25 worth of books for each food blogger who was chosen to take part in the club. I do love to read (fiction as well as cookbooks) so I was thrilled to be asked to take part. Although we have already been on our main holiday this year (which explains how quiet it has been on here recently) we are hoping to have several long weekend camping trips over the summer. So here are the books I will be reading this summer.

Gok cooks Chinese (I couldn’t resist chosing one cookbook). I’ve been loving watching this series the past few weeks and as someone who hasn’t cooked that much Chinese food I’ve learnt a lot. I wasn’t sure what to expect before I watched the first episode but the recipes are simple, healthy and look delicious and Gok and his dad make great tv. I can’t wait to get this book and start cooking from it. Continue reading

Fresh from the oven – February challenge – Bagels

Fresh from the oven has been baking bread as a group since June 2009. In that time we have baked a lot of bread and the members have changed a lot too. For our first challenge in this new format I wanted a recipe that even our longest standing members wouldn’t have baked as part of the group but also something that was straight forward enough to inspire new bakers to join in. I also wanted a recipe that allowed bakers to get creative if they wished. So with this in mind I have settled on bagels and hope that you all enjoy it.All the details about how to take part are here. I look forward to seeing all your bagels and a round up will be published on purely food at the end of February. Details of March’s challenge will be included in the round up.

Continue reading

Hotel chocolat Christmas gifts review and a giveaway

This giveaway is now closed, thank you to everyone who took part.

When I was asked to take part in Hotel chocolat’s christmas blogger campaign I was thrilled. They very kindly sent me their Christmas collection gift bag to review which is part of their fabulous selection of christmas gifts. Not only that but they are giving me the opportunity to give one lucky reader the same gift bag too.

The Christmas collection gift bag includes the Classic Christmas Sleekster Selection, Christmas Gift Slab with milk chocolate and dark cookie pieces, Gingerbread Truffles and Orange Nice Spice Puddles. Over the last couple of weeks myself and my husband have tested these chocolates and here’s what we thought of them. Continue reading

Hotel chocolat – Review and giveaway

Update: this competition is now closed.

I’m very excited to tell you all about my very first giveaway here on purely food. Hotel chocolat, a British cocoa grower and chocolatiers, very kindly sent me an item from their new easter range to review here on the blog. They have also agreed to send one of my lucky readers the same product. This year their easter range is all about British style and wit and the product I was sent fits perfectly with the theme. I was sent their dark chocolate eggs and soldiers to try.

Don’t they look cute? Not only do they come stylishly packaged but they live up to Hotel chocolat’s reputation of good quality chocolate. The soldiers are dark chocolate which we really enjoyed as it had a smooth, rich dark chocolate flavour. We loved the eggs too which are smooth dark chocolate, praline-filled half shells, topped with a white chocolate fried egg. Thank you to Hotel chocolat for sending me this delicious easter treat to review.

The giveaway

If you like the sound of this product and would like to win one for yourself, you have two ways to enter.

1. Simply leave a comment on this post telling me which product from their easter range you’d like as a gift this easter (Note – the prize is for dark chocolate eggs and soldiers, not the gift you mention in your comments).

2. Simply tweet the following and then come back and leave me a comment to say you have.

I want to win a Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate eggs and soldiers. Visit, for your chance to win.

The rules

A winner from all the comments on this post will be selected using the random website.

The deadline for entries is 10pm (GMT)  monday 21st March 2011.

This giveaway is open to all UK residents aged 18 and over.

You need to leave your e-mail address in order to comment, I am the only person that can see it.

Good luck

Spaghetti bolognese

I’ve tried my fair share of recipes for Bolognese and this is by far my favorite. The recipe is so simple to prepare but the resulting Bolognese is so rich in flavour. The secret to a good Bolognese is the long, slow cooking of 2-3 hours and for this reason I like to make a big batch and freeze several portions. There’s nothing better when you come home from work late than a delicious bowl of spaghetti Bolognese in under 10 minutes. This recipe is from River Cottage’s Gill and was featured in the tv series Every day.
Spaghetti bollognese
From River Cottage Every Day
Serves 6
1 tbsp olive oil
250g pancetta or streaky bacon, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 stems celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1kg beef skirt, coarsely minced
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 glasses red wine
1 bay leaf
About 200g dark-gilled mushrooms, sliced
Grated Parmesan, Cheddar or another hard, flavoursome cheese, to serve
A little extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, so the fat starts to run.
  • Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, reduce the heat a little and sweat the vegetables gently for about 10 minutes. Add the beef mince, increase the heat again, and cook, stirring, until the mince is broken down into little chunks and has completely lost any raw look.
  • Add the tomatoes, wine and bay leaf, then the sliced mushrooms. Stir well, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, at a very gentle simmer, stirring every now and again, for at least 2 hours.
  • Season, then spoon over hot, freshly-cooked pasta. Scatter with grated cheese, trickle with a little oil and grind on plenty of black pepper before serving.