The winter can be beautiful and peaceful if you know how to appreciate the different stages of nature, the bare trees and the frosted fallen leaves in the morning, but for the most of it, I’m sure the majority of our community would quite happily spend our days indoors.
Days can get a little boring cooped up inside. It’s time to turn to indoor hobbies to keep you ticking during this time period. A good place to start is learning to cook or continuing to learn with new recipes, especially comforting food, that warms your heart as well as your belly.
We picked 5 of our favourites that not only give you a nutrient boost to keep any colds and flu lurking this season at bay but they healthy food options for the whole family.
The first hearty recipe we chose is Tuna & sundried tomato pasta bake from BBCGOODFOOD because it’s an easy to cook recipe but absolutely delicious.
- 500g dried rigatoni (or any other short pasta)
- 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 300ml double cream
- 280g jar sundried tomatoes, drained and quartered
- 198g can no-added-salt sweetcorn, drained
- 3 x 120g cans tuna in spring water, drained
- 100g cheddar, grated
- 50g parmesan, grated
- Heat the grill to its highest setting and put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil. Tip in the pasta and cook for 1 min less than the pack suggests.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce by simmering the tomatoes in a pan with a little seasoning and the thyme for about 5 mins. Pour in the cream, stir and simmer for another 4-5 mins.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water, and tip back into the saucepan. Pour over the creamy tomato sauce, the sundried tomatoes, sweetcorn and tuna. Layer into a baking dish (ours was 22 x 29cm), scattering over the grated cheddar between layers. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and put under the grill for 5 mins until bubbling and golden.
The second recipe we chose is Kale and Chickpea Soup because how could we possibly have winter recipes without soup? This recipe is from Women's day.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
- 1 14-oz can tomato puree
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 13 cups)
- 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven on medium. Add garlic and zest and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add red pepper and fennel and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.
- Add tomato puree, 4 cups water, and 1 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil; add kale and simmer 4 minutes.
- Add chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes more. Serve with Pecorino and lemon wedges if desired.
We picked Delish’s Chicken Pot Pie as our third well rounded healthy dish for the whole family.
FOR THE CRUST
- 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1 c. butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 c. ice water (or more, if needed)
FOR THE FILLING
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 3 cups shredded cooked chicken)
- 1/2 c. butter, plus more for baking dish
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1 c. frozen peas
- 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
- 2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme leaves
- Egg wash
- Flaky sea salt
- Make dough: Place flour and butter into freezer for 30 minutes before starting crust process. In a large food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until pea-sized and some slightly larger pieces form. With the machine running, add ice water into feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough just come together and is moist but not wet and sticky (test by squeezing some with your fingers).
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, form into 2 balls, and flatten into 2 discs (making sure there are no/minimal cracks). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Cook chicken: Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a large baking dish with butter and grease one side of a large piece of parchment with butter. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper then place in baking dish. Place buttered side of parchment paper over chicken, so that chicken is completely covered. Bake until chicken is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into cubes.
- Meanwhile, start filling: In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and carrots and cook until vegetables are beginning to soften about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, then stir in flour and cook until the flour mixture is golden and beginning to bubble. Gradually whisk in chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream, cubed chicken, peas, parsley and thyme. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
- Assemble the pie: On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough into a large roundabout ¼” thick. Place in a shallow pie dish then add the filling. Roll out the second disc of dough into a large roundabout ¼” thick and place on top of filling. Trim and crimp edges, then use a paring knife to create slits on top. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Reduce heat to 375° and bake pie until crust is golden about 45 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
We’ve not forgotten about you our wonderful vegetarian community. We picked this delicious Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
- Small bunch basil leaves
FOR THE TOPPING
- 2 x 250g tubs mascarpone
- 3 tbsp milk
- 85g parmesan, (or vegetarian alternative), grated
- 2 x 125g balls mozzarella, sliced
FOR THE FILLING
- 1kg spinach
- 100g parmesan, (or vegetarian alternative), grated
- 3 x 250g tubs ricotta
- Large pinch grated nutmeg
- 400g dried cannelloni
- First make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the garlic for 1 min. Add the sugar, vinegar, tomatoes and some seasoning and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally, until thick. Add the basil and divide the sauce between 2 or more shallow ovenproof dishes (see Tips for freezing, below). Set aside. Make a sauce by beating the mascarpone with the milk until smooth, season, then set aside.
- Put the spinach in a large colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt it (you may need to do this in batches). When cool enough to handle squeeze out the excess water. Roughly chop the spinach and mix in a large bowl with 100g Parmesan and ricotta. Season well with salt, pepper and the nutmeg.
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Using a piping bag or plastic food bag with the corner snipped off, squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes. Lay the tubes, side by side, on top of the tomato sauce and spoon over the mascarpone sauce. Top with Parmesan and mozzarella. You can now freeze the cannelloni, uncooked, or you can cook it first and then freeze. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden and bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 mins before serving.
Last but most certainly not least! Chickpea Pancakes with Kale and Fennel.
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
- 1 Tbsp. za’atar (or curry powder, chile powder, or frankly any other combination of mild dried ground spices)
- 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed, leaves torn
- 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- Whisk chickpea flour, 1 Tbsp. oil, a pinch of salt, and ½ cup water in a medium bowl. Let socca batter sit at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour to let flour hydrate.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil and 2 garlic cloves in a medium nonstick skillet over medium, tossing occasionally, until garlic is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add chickpeas and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until chickpeas are lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add za’atar and toss several times to coat chickpeas; season with salt. Add kale and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until kale wilts, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, add fennel and toss to combine. Reserve skillet.
- Finely grate remaining garlic clove into a small bowl. Whisk in tahini, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. oil, and 2 Tbsp. water until thick and smooth. Season with salt.
- Heat 1½ tsp. oil in reserved skillet over medium-high. Add half of the reserved socca batter to the center of skillet and tilt skillet so that it spreads out to a thin 6"–7" pancake. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned and crisp underneath, 2–3 minutes (crank up the heat to high if needed to get crunchy edges and nice browning). Turn and cook just until lightly browned on the second side, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1½ tsp. oil and batter.
- Top each socca with chickpea salad. Drizzle with tahini sauce.
We’d love to know if you decided to cook any of these dishes and if you added your own twist to it. Tag us on our Instagram! We’d also be grateful if you wanted to share any more recipes with us, we like to learn from our community too!