What better way to cheer ourselves up than to get a few friends around but can we be bothered? Getting motivated is never easy this time of the year. Well, take a look at this menu of simple recipes and see what you think. There is very little cooking involved and it is light and bright and comforting too! The salad starter is enhanced by the addition of rich sweet seasonal fruit and served on a bed of charcuterie. The main course is a tangy comforting pasta dish that you can make using up left over cheeses or buying new of course. To finish serve a simple colourful mandarin and pomegranate jewel salad. What could be simpler?
Visit your local deli and try some of our wonderful local charcuterie made by Native Breeds or Trealy Farm, oh yes – and pick up some interesting pasta while you are there and the cheese too.
Bresaola with Pear, Baby Leaf Salad and Walnuts - Serves 4
8 slices of bresaola or prosciutto di Parma
Baby leaf salad - 4 small handfuls
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 firm pears, persimmons or figs
Juice 1 lemon if using pears
A handful of broken walnuts
Put two slices of bresaola on each plate. Put the salad leaved in a bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and toss lightly. Make a pile of salad in the middle of each serving of bresaola. Cut the pears into wedges and toss in lemon juice and put on the salad. Divide the broken walnut halves between the plates. Serve immediately.
Rigatoni with Taleggio or Gorgonzola Cheese and Toasted Hazelnuts
- Serves 4 as main or 8 as starter
Delicious, simple and quick to make
Coarse sea salt
500 g rigatoni or similar ridged pasta
250 g taleggio, gorgonzola, stilton or any other left-over soft cheese
80 g butter
50 ml milk
75 g crushed toasted hazelnuts
100 g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Fill a large pan with water, add a handful of coarse salt and bring to a rolling boil, add the pasta, stir and cook on high heat uncovered. Taste a couple of minutes before the suggested cooking time on the packet is up.
While the pasta is cooking, trim off the rind from the cheeses and discard. Cut the cheese onto cubes and put into a small pan with the butter and milk on low heat and stir until the mixtures melts into a smooth sauce.
Drain the pasta when it is cooked al dente and transfer to a large serving bowl, add the cheese sauce, half the nuts, half a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper, half the Parmigiano Reggiano and mix well.
Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top and serve with extra cheese.
Mandarin and Pomegranate Jewel Salad – serves 8
Peel the mandarins and remove any loose pith from the peeled fruit. Cut into thin slices and arrange in a shallow serving dish.
Cut the pomegranate into quarters and turn out the jewels by pushing the pomegranate quarters inside-out; pull away and discard any pith.
Sprinkle the pomegranate jewels over the mandarin slices and add 4 tablespoons of pomegranate cordial and 4 tablespoons of water, stir and refrigerate.
Optional: add a tablespoon of your favourite citrus liqueur or brandy.