Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta Recipe

Calamari Tomato & Basil

I’ve been enjoying the summer weather lately, and been loving the entertainment opportunities that presents too. When I have guests though, I like having pre-prepared, or quick to prepare meals as I don’t like spending ages in the kitchen! That’s just one of the reasons I really enjoy this Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta: it’s easy to prepare before hand, leaving just 10 minutes cooking time required.Calamari Tomato & Basil

I prefer to use fresh pasta when pasta is the main part of the meal, so I’ve used fresh pasta in this recipe. Dry pasta works, but needs to be cooked for longer. It can also be served in a salad, or with quinoa or other starch of your choice.

Use a good quality squid for this recipe too – nothing worse than leathery calamari!

Now, if you want to prepare this meal for later cooking, chop the garlic cloves, wash and dry the cherry tomatoes – halve them if they are the larger variety – wash the squid, clean it and cut it into rings, and chop the basil leaves roughly. Store all the items in the fridge till about 20 minutes before you’re going to cook them, leaving it to warm to room temperature a little.

If your calamari loses a lot of liquid in the cooking, you can pour it out about before adding the cherry tomatoes.

Serve immediately – and if you’re having wine, Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta pairs really well with a dry white wine, like a Pinot Grigio – a wine I don’t normally like, but it works fantastically with this. Another alternative is Riesling.

Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta
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There's a lot of flexibility in this recipe, with room for adaptations to make it your favourite. You may not like anchovies, but don't miss them out as they really add to the flavour of this dish.
Serves: 4
  • Pasta for four people
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 450g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  • bunch cut basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  1. Prepare the pasta as per brand instructions. Set aside. (I bring 1000g water to boil in the Thermomix® - Varoma/8 mins/ speed 4 - then add the pasta in the internal steamer for 3 - 4 minutes / Varoma/speed 4)
  2. To a heated pan, add the oil, garlic and anchovy to a frying pan and heat till the anchovy sort of 'melts'.
  3. Add the squid and fry for 1 - 2 minutes, tossing them as you do.
  4. Next, add the cherry tomatoes and fry them for 3 - 4 minutes, till they begin to soften and leak juice - I prefer the cherry tomatoes to still have some bite to them, but it's personal choice, really!
  5. Test the squid to make sure it's nice and tender, then add the basil, salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with the pasta, or as a salad with green leaves.


Soybean or Broad Bean Salad

Edamame Soybean Broad Beans Salad

I have a grave and lifelong dislike for beans, especially the tinned variety, but I have developed a love for soybeans, sometimes called soyabeans. Aside from planting some Edamame beans, I’ve discovered that Waitrose sell them in the pods, or anonymous ‘Soybeans’ for £1.50 a bag of 400g! This, in my apparently boring life, has been a very exciting discovery.

Now, soybeans need a longer boil than regular beans to kill off toxins. The packaging on the beans say Microwave for 3 minutes, which I find confusing, but okay, I don’t have a microwave. For this recipe then, I’ve done an 8 minute boil at Varoma temp (120C/248F) to hopefully balance that out, but more importantly, to cook the beans – if I was cooking from frozen, I’d probably go for 10 minutes.

While this recipe is made with dill, and is simply “I want the same again tomorrow” good, the beans are nice with a dash of mint too. Just go lightly, you don’t need much as you don’t want it to overpower the unique Edamame flavour. Edamame Soybean Broad Beans Salad

Another thing with this salad is that you can do the Feta thing two ways: mix everything, then add the beans, or mix everything then add the Feta. I prefer the first way as the Feta spreads and becomes a dressing of sorts for the beans. The second way, however, is a little ‘neater’ as the Feta doesn’t ‘melt’ as much as quickly.  It’s your call.

Soybean or Broad Bean Salad
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Serves: 3-4
  • 400g shelled Fava/Broad/Soy or Edamame beans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dry dill
  • 100g Feta cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Thermomix® Recipe
  1. Fill the Thermomix® to the max line with boiling water.
  2. Place the internal steamer basket
  3. Add the beans
  4. Cook 8 minutes/Varoma/ Speed 4 No MC
  5. While that's cooking, add the olive oil, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper and Feta to a serving dish and mix well.
  6. Drain the beans and allow to cool a little before stirring in to the dressing in the serving bowl. Use a fork to combine it all.
  7. Serve warm or cold as a snack or a side. Either way it's wonderful!

soybean salad

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup

This soup came about because I really don’t like a chunky soup. Contrary to popular belief this isn’t because of the texture, but rather is because I get bored half way through a bowl of same tasting bite after bite. And by the time you’ve boiled your vegetables long enough to extract the flavour into the broth, every bite tastes the same.

I prefer a deconstructed soup. It’s still hearty, filling, healthy, but it looks much prettier since everything retains it’s colour and shape, and every bite is a mini-adventure.
Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup

Take this soup for example. Butternut soup with lardons, sage and Grana Padano cheese.

The first bite has a little bit of lardon and a small sliver of sage. It’s tasty. The next bite,  has a hint of garlic, and a bit of onion along with the butternut, and tastes homey. The following spoon picks up a large piece of melted cheese, and the rich full flavour of Grana Padano accompanies the butternut down my throat. The next spoon hits a pocket of sage butter, and provides a whole other taste to any of the previous bites – and next it’s just a plain spoon of butternut, that almost cleanses your palet. And so it goes, on and on.

Grana Padano Butternut Squash Soup

Well, it works for me, and I hope you like it too!

For this soup I like to roast the butternut squash. While you can just go ahead and make it from an uncooked butternut squash, which gives it a fresh flavour, I find a roasted butternut squash has so much more depth to it. It’s definitely worth the extra 40 or so minutes.

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup
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It may seem a little fiddly, but for this soup you need to roast the butternut squash. Once it's cooked, boil the soup for 15 minutes, while at the same time cooking the lardons and sage leaves for 10 minutes each. Slice up the cheese and everything should be ready at the same time.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 3 -4
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Onion
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 30g butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 75g pasta
  • 140g bacon lardons
  • 50g Grana Padano shards
  • pepper to taste
  • olive oil to drizzle
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Peel four garlic cloves and put them inside the hollowed out butternut squash.
  3. Drizzle a good quality olive oil over the butternut squash, place on an oven tray and bake at 200C for about 40 mins till it's soft all the way through. Set aside to cool slighly, then chop into rough chunks. If it's a young butternut squash you can keep the skin, but if it's older, discard.
In the Thermomix®
  1. Add the onion and baked garlic cloves to the Thermomix® and chop 3 seconds/speed 4.
  2. Cook for 3 minutes/100C/Speed 1
  3. Add the chicken stock and butternut squash, and cook 15 mins/speed 4
  4. Meanwhile in a pan, fry the bacon lardons until they are crispy, about 10 minutes.
  5. In another, smaller pan, melt 30g butter, and add the sage leaves. Gently fry for about 10 minutes on low heat until the butter is browned and the leaves are crispy.
  6. Thinly slice 'shards' of the Grana Padano cheese.
  7. To serve, dish up the soup, making sure to get some pasta in each bowl and sprinkle cheese over. On the side, serve lardons, additional cheese chards and the sage leaves.
  8. Drizzle the sage butter over the butternut squash soup, and serve.
Regular Instructions
  1. Chop and slice the onions and garlic, and saute for about 10 mins in suitable suit pot, till translucent.
  2. Add the chicken stock and butternut squash, and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile in a pan, fry the bacon lardons until they are crispy, about 10 minutes.
  4. In another, smaller pan, melt 30g butter, and add the sage leaves. Gently fry for about 10 minutes on low heat until the butter is browned and the leaves are crispy.
  5. Thinly slice 'shards' of the Grana Padano cheese.
  6. To serve, dish up the soup, making sure to get some pasta in each bowl and sprinkle cheese over. On the side, serve lardons, additional cheese chards and the sage leaves.
  7. Drizzle the sage butter over the butternut squash soup, and serve.


Aubergine And Anchovy Tapenade

To like this recipe, you are going to have to like aubergines and anchovies, although the flavour combines really nicely in such a way that you don’t really taste much of either – it’s more a third, new flavour. I think so anyway, and I really love it.

This goes well with the obvious things like crackers, but it’s also a good filling for baked potatoes or sandwiches. I had initially wanted to make a bagna cauda soup, but didn’t have enough aubergine, so converted mid-recipe to a tapenade instead.

Also, aubergine, egg plant, whatever you call it, is ridiculously hard to photograph in any half decent way!


Aubergine And Anchovy Tapenade
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Remember the anchovies are pretty salty, so be careful when adding more salt!
Recipe type: Tapenade, Dip, Filling
Serves: 350g
  • 300g aubergines
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 20g olive oil
  • 6–10 anchovy fillets
  • 30g single cream
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 190C
  2. Halve the aubergine/egg plant and drizzle olive oil over the top. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes till it's soft.
  3. Cool slightly then scoop out the aubergine, discarding the skin.
In the Thermomix®
  1. Add garlic, sugar, olive oil and anchovy fillets into the bowl. Add the aubergine.
  2. Mix speed 4 for 10 seconds. It shouldn't be puréed, just mixed together. It's better if you can keep some of the texture.
  3. Add the cream, salt and pepper and mix for 5 seconds on speed 3, making sure it's all mixed together.
  4. Scoop into a serving dish and serve with crackers or vegetable croutons.
In a blender
  1. Add garlic, sugar, olive oil and anchovy fillets into the bowl.
  2. Depending on your blender start slowly till you have a roughly chopped texture. Add the aubergine and cream, salt and pepper and blend till it's all combined.
  3. Scoop into a serving dish and serve with crackers or vegetable croutons.

Hope you enjoy this delicious, naturally salty dip!

Garlic & Herb Pull Apart Bread Recipe (Thermomix®)

I’ve tried to make pull apart breads on, well, more than one occasion, but I’ve never found them to be perfect. They’ve just never been ‘right’ – till today. Today I made a most beautiful garlic & herb pull apart bread. It was light, fluffy, airy and delicious. My kids loved it.  I loved it. Now I’m writing it all down step by step so hopefully next time I make it, it’ll be as good! I have a hankering to try this with bacon too. Just saying.

Garlic & Herb Pull Apart Bread

You can make this with or without the cheese, and you can vary the herbs to your preference. The main thing is to make sure you add some of the garlic butter to the bottom of the baking dish so that it seeps through to make these beautiful, fluffy and delicious breadrolls for a tear & share bread.

Garlic & Herb Pull Apart Bread Recipe
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You can make this bread with any recipe you prefer, really, but this one is adapted from the Bestest Breadrolls recipe on the Thermomix® community.
Recipe type: Side Dish, Bread
Cuisine: BBQ, Bread
Serves: 8 - 10
For the bread
  • 10g dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 510 g bakers flour
  • 30 g garlic flavoured olive oil
  • 310 g warm water
For the garlic butter
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 15g flat leaf parsley
  • 60g parmesan or other cheese
  • 60g butter
  1. Add all the ingredients to a clean Thermomix® bowl.
  2. Mix at speed 5 for 10 seconds, then knead for 90 seconds using the dough setting.
  3. Oil a glass bowl and place the dough inside. Cover the dough and set aside to rise to double it's size.
For the butter
  1. Add the garlic, parsley and cheese to the bowl and mix on speed 5 for 8 - 10 seconds.
  2. Add the butter and melt at 50C/Speed ½ mins.
  3. Pour a third of the melted butter mix into an oven safe dish..
  4. Take the dough and split it into 8 - 10 balls. Put them on top of the butter mix in the dish, making sure they touch lightly. Drizzle over the remaining butter mix.
  5. Turn the oven on to 180C and put the breadrolls into the oven (while it's still cold).
  6. Bake bread for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven. It should be golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven dish so the base doesn't get soggy.

Balsamic Onion Pastries Recipe

Oh, I love puff pastry. I know I could make it, but I really love having a few boxes of it in the fridge because it makes the whole ‘quick dinner’ thing really easy.

Balsamic Onion Pastries

To make these pastries, cut the raw product into squares, then once the filling is in take the corners and fold them to the centre. Don’t press them down just leave them loose and pop some filling on top. That way the filling is inside and outside. Lovely.

Balsamic Onion Pastries Recipe
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A pretty forgiving recipe, and while beginning to end it'll take about an hour, your hands on time is very little, especially if you're using a bought or premade puff pastry.
Recipe type: Snack, Pastry
Serves: 8
  • 1 Portion of puff pastry
  • 600 grams onions
  • 20 grams olive oil
  • 40 grams balsamic vinegar
  • 75 grams brown sugar
  1. Roll out your pastry into a large square
  2. Cut into 8 squares
  3. Peel the onions and chop 3 seconds speed 5
  4. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar
  5. Cook for 30 minutes, Varoma Speed 1 with measuring cup off.
  6. Spoon onto the pastry squares and fold the corners in towards each other. Add a tablespoon of the caramelised onion to the centre of the folded pastry.
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180C