Week Night Dinners: Orecchiette with Sausage Meatballs & Cherry Tomatoes

Here’s another of our favourite working-week-night meals.  A simplified spaghetti and meatballs, if you like.   It’s lighter than that, though, and more summery.   And if you choose the spring onion version of the dish, it can be on the table in a super speedy 20 mins.   When we’re not short on time, I prefer to make the version with the sautéed onions.  The sweetness adds a bit more depth to the sauce, I find.

Orecchiette with Sausage Meatballs and Cherry Tomatoes

(serves 2)

1 onion, sliced (option 1)

Olive oil

4 herby sausages, e.g. Italian or Toulouse

500g cherry tomatoes, halved (or a tin of cherry tomatoes would work in winter)

Splash of white wine

Palmful of basil leaves, torn

150g orecchiette or some other concave pasta

Parsley or rocket

Spring onion (option 2)

Salt & pepper

  • If you using the onion, heat a couple of tablespoons in a frying pan (not a wee one – the sauce will be made in this) over a medium heat and gently fry the onions for 20 mins or so until golden.  Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
  • Remove the sausage meat from the skins and roll into small balls – bigger than a marble, smaller than a golf ball.  Using the same oil the onions were cooked in, fry the meatballs over a high heat for 3/4 minutes until browned on all sides.
  • At the point, I like to pour the excess oil out of the pan.  Add the onion back to the pan and a good splash of wine.  Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol reduce the heat to medium then add the cherry tomatoes and basil to the pan.  Stir frequently and reduce the heat further once the tomatoes start to break down.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta to the salted water and cook according to instructions.
  • Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and (if using) spring onion.  Serve topped with chopped parsley or a handful of rocket.

Week Night Dinners: Baked Potato with Coronation Chicken & Lime Pickle

After six long, lovely weeks of holiday, school started again today.  It’s been a great summer.  Not in terms of weather, it has to be said but in every other respect it’s been really, really great.  The two things I’m going to miss most about having oodles of free time are 1) being able to read lots and lots and 2) spending silly amounts of time preparing our evening meals.

Like most folks, our working-week-night meals have to be quick and easy to prepare.  The following meal (idea stolen from The Storehouse) is what we often have on a Monday or Tuesday night using the leftovers from Sunday’s chicken.   The Coronation Chicken is not the traditional recipe but a speedy alternative.  The lime pickle is optional but I think it really lifts the whole meal.

Baked Potato with Coronation Chicken & Lime Pickle

(serves 2)

2 baking potatoes

Leftover chicken (about a leg and a half is enough)

2 tblspn mayonnaise

2 tblspn yoghurt

1 tspn curry powder

1 tblspn mango chutney

Salt and pepper

Coriander (optional)

Lime pickle (Patak’s do a nice jar)


  • Preheat the oven to 200 oC.
  • Mix together the mayo, yogurt, curry powder and mango chutney.  Season carefully and stir in the chicken.  Leave to marinate while you cook the potatoes.
  • Prick the potatoes, wet and rub with salt.  Bake in a 200 oC for an hour until the skin is crisp and the insides are soft.
  • Serve the coronation with the baked potatoes, lime pickle and a salad of your choice.

London and Lentil Soup

David and I are just back from a weekend in London.  The days were jam-packed full of the Olympics (David had basketball tickets), walking for miles, chatting with friends, wine-tasting, shopping and eating.  A LOT of eating.  It was fabulous.

We arrived home, tired and happy, at 2pm on Monday afternoon.  By 4pm I’d made a massive pot of my favourite soup to see us through the week.  It’s soothing and nourishing and might just help me atone for the vast amounts of calories consumed over the weekend.  🙂

Lentil Soup

(makes lots)

Splash of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tblspn ground cumin

1 tspn ground coriander

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 cups of red lentils

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly

2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)

Salt & pepper

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Lemon juice and coriander to serve

  • Gently fry the onion in olive oil until softened.  Add the garlic and  spices and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Add the tomatoes, lentils and carrots.  Stir well to combine and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently for 30 mins until lentils have collapsed and carrots are tender.
  • Use a hand blender to puree the soup.  Season with salt and pepper and add Cayenne  to taste if using.
  • I like to stir through a squeeze of lemon juice and add a sprinkling of coriander to each bowl before serving.

Tomato Relish

In a parallel universe there is a Wendy who regularly sits in her garden enjoying the last of the evening sun whilst having barbeque after barbeque after barbeque.  In this reality, however, summer has been monumentally disappointing in terms of temperature and sun-appearance and this Wendy has managed to have one barbeque in two months.  And I had to wear two jumpers.

Not to worry.  In every other respect the summer has been fantastic and burgers can, after all, be cooked inside.  Recently we’ve been eating them topped with this rather lovely, chunky tomato relish.

Tomato Relish – Two Jars

(Adapted from Made at Home Preserves by Dick and James Strawbridge – lovely wee book)

125g brown sugar

200ml white wine vinegar

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium onion, chopped finely

1 tspn dried chilli flakes

1 tblspn onion seeds

1 tspn paprika

1/2 tspn ground ginger

3 tblspn capers

Approx. 4 medium gherkins, chopped finely

  • Warm the vinegar and sugar in a pan over a medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Add the tomatoes, chopped onion and spices to the pan and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat immediately and simmer gently for 45 minutes.  Add the capers and gherkins and stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour into sterilised jars.
  • Will keep in the fridge for at least six months.