Saturday, 1 March 2014

variations on a theme

Since I stopped working, our dinners have become more planned and less stressful. We have a magnetic weekly planner on the door of the tumble drier, on which I note down the meals I imagine cooking during the week. There is always some deviation from the plan but overall, it helps with the shopping list and avoids food wastage, too. I don't know why we weren't as organised when I was working....

Cullen Skink, in case you wonder, is a thick soup of smoked haddock, potatoes , onions and cream. Richard makes a mean soup, better than my own versions and it was really delicious (but not very popular with the offspring).

Courgetti spaghetti is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes. It is a versatile dish and tastes different every time. The recipe is based on courgettes, onions and a little garlic. This is the only constant, the rest depends on the fridge contents, the cook and his/her mood. This week, I chopped three largish courgettes and a bunch of salad onions.

I gently cooked these in a large frying pan with a good dash of olive oil. Courgettes contain a lot of water and as they soften, the water evaporates. This provides enough liquid to stop the courgettes from sticking. I cook the courgettes on low heat.

After 10 minutes, I added half of a small jar of original basil pesto to the courgettes.

Sometimes I cook the courgettes until they are mush, but last week, I wanted some bite. It took about 20 minutes to get to the desired softness. I had some cream cheese that nobody really likes to eat and added some of this to the courgettes.

Pesto has quite a strong flavour and little seasoning is needed. I only added plenty of pepper to the sauce. At the same time I cooked a pot of spaghetti. Personally, I would probably choose a different type of pasta, maybe thick noodles, but spaghetti is the family favourite. 

We always have parmesan in the fridge and everybody likes to add a generous amount to their portion. Here is mine:

All in all a quick and satisfying meal. Poor old Sam, he just has plain leftover pesto, or no sauce at all. He just doesn't realise that he misses out!

Variations on a theme (always based on courgette, onion and garlic)
  • mint and lemon juice, nothing creamy
  • thyme and lemon juice, nothing creamy
  • pesto but no cream cheese (or cream)
  • pine nuts, chilli flakes and thyme
  • extra onion (not quite half of the courgettes)
  • basil and lemon
  • ....
I did most of the cooking this week but I had a little helper for the pizza feast:

It is good to teach them early, and making pizza is always a great opportunity to practice rolling, cutting and planning (who likes what topping).

I am looking forward to the roast chicken tomorrow, and a chicken noodle soup of sorts next week, made from scrapings of meat and the stock cooked with the carcass. All this food pictures make me hungry, I wonder what there is to nibble in the kitchen... Have a lovely weekend!

I was really overwhelmed by all the kind comments on my "about me" post. My self confidence was boosted and I am a happy bunny. Cx


  1. I'm trying to get better at planning meals too but as chef duties are shared between me & my husband, it's sometimes easier said than done. You're pizza looks delicious and I like the sound of Cullen Shrink. I'm the only courgette lover in our house so will have to pass on your pasta sauce.

  2. This recipe sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing. The Skink sounds really good, I think I'd love it. We make pizza very often around here, and I agree that it offers many great learning experiences. Both of mine love to make pizza and they take it very seriously! :)

  3. Hey Christina,
    The Skink and the courgette pasta look yummy. Olly and me are going to make pizza this week. To my shame I have never made it with the kids before, and I know it will be cheaper and much more yummy than shop bought ones. I try to meal plan, but often go off piste. I'm quite good at using everything in the fridge though. Ther is rarely any wastage in this house!
    Leanne xx

  4. I like the look of your courgette pasta

  5. I am a big fan of meal planning too, it makes life easier all round I've found. The courgette pasta you have made looks really good.
    Marianne x

  6. All your dishes sound delicious and super organisation on your part.

  7. Oh, I love to see what other families eat. I really like the look of your courgetti spaghetti. I honestly don't know what we ate before we ate pesto, it's a favourite in this house and a good standby. We have it with chicken and green beans often, or peas, or anything that's in the fridge frankly. x

  8. I was reading your blog when my boyfriend saw your pizza, he drooled haha. I on the other hand love this courgette idea with all the variations (a use up what you have sort of dish) so thanks for sharing it.

    Your little helper looks like he had lots of fun :-)

  9. I used to plan dinners much the same way. Now that my kids have all grown and gone I have become more of a last minute planner, but have been thinking I need to get back into my old routine again. It was definitely less stressful. Your pasta dish looks yummy! I'm going to try it out this week. Thanks for the idea!

  10. You're so organised! Now I know what to do in the summer if I get a glut of courgettes - your courgette pasta looks delicious.

  11. I really must try and be more organised like you. I am sure things would run more smoothly if I planned the week's menus in advance, rather than peering desperately in the fridge at half past four. My eldest is going to be a vegan for lent, so I think I shall have to try a little harder than usual. Thanks for the inspiration.


Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx