Penne with Roast Vegetables and Fresh Pesto

When you roast vegetables they taste divine. It gives them such a distinct flavour and yet it's something I don't often do.

It was watching an old episode of Delia Smith on TV that tempted me. She was making a lasagne with roast vegetables and it looked so good. My mouth was watering as I watched her cook and I realised that I'd not roasted vegetables for such a long time. I decided I'd leave the Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne for another time and instead I'd serve my vegetables with penne  pasta and some freshly made pesto.

I have such a lot of basil growing in pots, just waiting to be used and there is nothing nicer than freshly made pesto. Add a sprinkling of feta cheese and you have a match made in heaven.

Penne with Roast Vegetable and Fresh Pesto

Roast Vegetables

1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 courgette, sliced
12 cherry tomatoes
6 closed cup mushrooms, halved
2 cloves garlic
a few leaves of basil
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper


a large handful basil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
5 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
5-6 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper




feta cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 240c/475f/gas mark 9.

In a large bowl, coat the pepper courgette and onion with most of the oil and season. Pour into a roasting tin and cook for 15 minutes. Next coat and season the mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes and add them to the roasting tin. These won't need as long to cook. Leave in for another 15 minutes until the vegetables are browning at the edges.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente. I was using an unfamiliar brand and probably left mine in a minute or two too long.

Next make the pesto. Dry roast the pine nuts in a pan until they are beginning to take on some colour. This will give them a lovely flavour. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and whizz up until you have a slightly coarse pesto. Taste for seasoning.

Drain the pasta and coat in 4 tbsp pesto before tossing in the vegetables. Crumble over some feta cheese and grind some black pepper over the dish before serving.

I made enough pasta for two and used the remaining vegetables on wraps, but their is enough pesto and vegetables to serve up to 6 people.

This pasta dish would also be delicious as a cold pasta salad. If this is the way you want to go, then rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process and allow the vegetables to cool before adding them to the pesto coated pasta.

Apple, Avocado & Mint Smoothie

I have avocados sitting in my fruit bowl, alongside apples and lemons, begging to be used. Most of my fruit is in the fridge, but these guys are just sitting there expectantly.

I am planning to use one of the avocados in a salad with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, but the other one, I had no plans for. That is until this morning when I decided a smoothie was the order of the day.

Apple, Avocado & Mint Smoothie

3 green apples
3 kiwi fruit, peeled
1 avocado, peeled and stone removed
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
3 mint leaves

I juiced the apples first. I didn't bother to skin them, just washed them. I am not going to tell you about the incident with the first 3 apples, where I forgot to put the jug under the spout! Needless to say, Graham wasn't impressed.

Next I blended the apple juice, kiwi fruit, avocado and mint with a splash of lemon juice. Not too much as it will overpower the other flavours.

Pour and enjoy.

Serves 2

We really adored this smoothie. It was so rich and creamy thanks to the addition of the avocado. The sharp green smell and flavour of the apple comes first as you take a sip, then you can taste a hint of mint, and next you get a kick from the kiwi. Mmmmmmm! A lovely fresh flavour and such a healthy drink.

I would love to have another glass, alas the apples are finished, thanks to my senior moment.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

I had a hankering to have a stir fry with sweet and sour sauce. I also had a hankering to have some quorn in my stir fry, something I haven't had for years. So I gave into it and had a browse around the internet for the sauce.

There was a lot of variety out there, but usually the main ingredients were sugar and vinegar. Tomato ketchup also featured heavily, but I just couldn't bring myself to use that. I copied 4 recipes down, then did a pick and mix with the ingredients until I had what I thought would be a good combination, then I just tasted the sauce as I went. It worked out rather well and I really enjoyed it.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornflour
½ cup water
1 small tin pineapple

In a pan, gently heat the vinegar, sugar, tomato puree & soy sauce, until the sugar has melted. dissolve the cornflour in the water, before adding to the ingredients in the pan. Stir well. Chopped up the pineapple into chunks and add to the pan, along with the pineapple juice. Pour over you stir fry and mix in well. Cook for a couple of minutes before serving.

Serves 2-3

I discovered that I had run out of soy sauce in the middle of making my sauce, so I used vegetarian worcestershire sauce instead. It has a lovely tangy taste which worked very well.

My stir fry consisted of onion, garlic, chilli, red pepper, broccoli, mangetout, baby sweetcorn, mushrooms and quorn. I served it on a bed of rice and it was just what the doctor ordered. Very tasty and satisfying!

Summer Delight Smoothie

I haven't enjoyed a smoothie for a while and as my energy levels have been so low, it seemed like the perfect time to start making them again.

This is my favourite time of year for fruit. I am a berry girl and I am guzzling punnet after punnet of fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. For this smoothie I decided to use some plump raspberries and a really sweet, juicy nectarine.

Summer Delight Smoothie

1 generous cup plump raspberries
1 juicy, sweet nectarine
1 ripe pear
¾ cup milk
½ cup greek yoghurt
2 tsp Manuka honey

Rinse the fruit before removing the stone from the nectarine and coring the pear. I didn't bother to remove the skin from the pear or the nectarine. You really don't notice it in the smoothie. Cut the nectarine and pear into chunks and place them and all the other ingredients in a blender. Whizz until smooth. Enjoy!

Serves 2

You may notice the glass I have poured the smoothie into. I have always spelled my name JacquƩ. The French abbreviate it this way and I always hated the (Jackie) spelling. So when my friend Trudi saw these glasses, she just had to get them for me. I think it is actually a brand name for a flavoured cider.

There was another gift among the ingredients for this smoothie. My best buddy Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen, sent me a jar of Manuka Honey to try and I have to say it is fabulous. It is much thicker than normal honey. It is almost like a caramel and very luxurious. It is supposed to have active properties that are anti-bacterial, but that is just an extra bonus. It is hard not to just eat it straight out of the jar. Of course once you spoon the honey onto something, the spoon must be licked!

(technorati - pc6kr2j8tw)

Scones with Clottted Cream & Jam

I can't believe it is a week since I was here last! My tiredness just seems to envelop me during the week and I am not fit for much more than collapsing on my bed with a book when I get home, so my time online and cooking is suffering.

We are eating a lot of salads, pasta and baked potatoes, but nothing much that is blogworthy. I seem to be reverting to old favourites that are quick and easy to make. We are enjoying fresh pesto from the large pot of basil I have growing in the conservatory, but that is as about as complicated as it gets!

However, yesterday, after a lie in, I had a notion to make some scones. And who do you go to for a good scone recipe? Why Delia of course! The original recipe is here, but I have changed it into cups for ease, so that next time I won't have to drag my scales out.

Delia's Scones

2 cups self-raising flour
40g butter (slightly less than a third of a stick)
1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
¾ cup greek yoghurt and milk (half and half)
pinch of salt

In a large bowl, cube the butter, then sieve in the flour. Using your fingers, quickly rub the butter into the flour.

Next stir in the sugar and salt.

Using a knife, mix in the yogurt and milk, a little at a time, until the mix begins to bind together. If it is a little dry, add a small amount of milk. I have already included a little extra in my recipe to make it up to the ¾ cup, which worked out perfectly. If you just add it a little at a time, you will know when it is ready.

Bring the dough together into a ball and roll out on a floured surface until it is about 2 cm deep. Use a cutter to cut the scones. Delia suggests not to twist the cutter, but to tap it sharply so it goes through the dough in one go . I have heard this before, apparently the dough rises better if it is not twisted, although is is easier said that done. Habit, I suppose! You should be able to make 8 scones out of the mixture.

Place the scones onto a greased baking sheet, brush the tops with milk and bake for 12 - 15 minutes until risen and golden.

Serve with homemade jam and clotted cream

Makes 8 scones

Boy, what a treat these were, especially with that lovely homemade strawberry jam I bought at the farmer's market last week and the luxury of clotted cream.

Needless to say they have been polished off today! They were lovely and light and I would use this recipe again. I liked the fact that it used greek yoghurt, which I always have in my fridge, instead of buttermilk, which I don't! Although I sometimes mix milk with lemon juice or vinegar as a substitute for buttermilk.

Here are a few of my homemade jams you may like to try with these scones:

Rhubarb & Orange Jam

Strawberry & Peach Jam

Summer Fruit Jam


Garlicky Mushroom Melt

I was at the farmer's market in Perth today. I got some gorgeously ripe strawberries and couldn't resist buying some of their jam too. I know I could easily make my own, but it was too difficult to walk away without it. I bought some juicy nectarines and plump apricots. What a difference in the fruit when you buy it straight from the farmer. Pump and luscious instead of the hard tasteless fruit the supermarkets peddle.

I also bought a seven seed wholemeal organic loaf, which was pricey, but worth it. I plan to make sandwiches with it tomorrow for our walk. I will fill them with slow matured caramelised onion cheddar, also purchased today, salad leaves and caramelised onion marmalade. Mmmmm, should be good. I tried a piece of the cheese before I made up my mind and it is extremely lovely. I will take some of my fruit with me tomorrow too.

Anyway back to this evening. I just wanted something easy tonight. So I got the panini machine out, cut some thick slices of the seven seed bread and lightly toasted them , while I sauteed two large field mushrooms. Once the bread was toasted I rubbed one slice with a garlic clove, covered it with fresh mozzarella, then topped it with the seasoned mushroom. I spread the other slice of toasted bread with pesto and squidged them together before putting them back into the panini machine and gave them a few minutes to melt.

More a serving suggestion than a recipe, I know, but just delicious and worth passing on I think. Try it and you will see just what I mean. The perfect way to round off a lovely day. I am going to curl up on the sofa now, with a glass of elderflower cordial and watch New In Town. I hope you are having as nice a weekend.
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