“Tomato and Basil Salad” from “Happy Salads”


Do I really need a recipe for Tomato and Basil Salad (also known as Carprese salad)? No. I do not.

What I always *do* need, though, is the recipe for salad dressing. No matter how many times I’ve made it, I seem to have some sort of mental block when it comes to the ratio of oil to vinegar. I can never remember it. (Note to self: it’s a 3-to-1 ratio).

I’m cautiously optimistic, however, that after a month of eating salad (and making its dressing) out of “Happy Salads”, that I will remember the ratio in the future. We’ll see.

Needless to say, when I brought this out to the table, Tim asked, “Do you really need a recipe for this salad?” To be fair, it’s one of three recipes on a page called, “3 Ways With Mozzarella,” an effort I can definitely get behind.

For the record, the dressing for this Caprese Salad was 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 small shallot finely diced, and a 1/2 clove of garlic, crushed to a paste. It was good and would work on a number of salads, not just this one.

So you could argue that a recipe for tomato-mozzeralla-basil salad with dressing is a bit superfluous. But if this book is going to cover all the bases for Happy Salads, surely this would be one of them. It’s always a hit.

Would eat again.

“Tomato and Basil Salad” from “Happy Salads”

“Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

Nicholas (9): What’s this called?

Maureen: Well, I call it lemon spaghetti, but it’s got an Italian name. (Finds cookbook to see what the official name is.) It is Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano. Just like I said. Lemon spaghetti.

Andrew (13): It’s pretty good.

Maureen: I agree. I like this. Though I”m not really sure it merits its own recipe in a cookbook. I could do it in four sentences: Cook spaghetti. Make sauce by grating lemon and adding a massive amount of cheese, some olive oil and a splash of pasta water. Mix spaghetti into sauce and put basil leaves on top. Enjoy.

Nicholas: I would eat this again.

Maureen: I’m not surprised you would. But like I said it’s not like the wheel has been reinvented or anything. Saying that, it’s not nearly as boring as I thought it would be. It’s very nice.


Cook’s Note’s: Gwyneth advises that 350 grams of spaghetti would feed four. I’m here to tell you that 350 grams of spaghetti would not feed the four people in our house, particularly when one of them is a teenage boy and the other is his younger brother who loves spaghetti. Just make the whole packet of spaghetti (500 grams) and augment the sauce of cheese, olive oil and lemon accordingly.

“Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

“Meatzza” from “Nigellissima”

Want to try the Meatzza yourself? The recipe can be found on the Nigella Lawson website by clicking through on this link.

Maureen: So I think this is like a meatloaf, but in the shape of a pizza. What do you think?

Nicholas (9): Is this from the new cookbook?

Maureen: Yes. Nigella’s latest tome, which is all Italian cooking. I think we will enjoy this month.

Andrew (Now 13! Happy Birthday!): It’s OK. These are two things that don’t need to go together. They work fine together, but I don’t see the point. Either have pizza or have meatloaf. Why make it one thing?

Nicholas: I think it’s AMAZING. It’s like a meatloaf, but with the added tomato sauce and cheese on top. Delicious.

Maureen: I’m with Nicholas on this one. I think it’s good, and I suspect that I will make it again.

Andrew: Don’t get me wrong. It’s good, but it’s not my favourite.

Maureen: I don’t know, with time it might become your favourite.

Andrew: Nah.

Tim: I’m with Andrew on this one. I don’t see the point of this.

Maureen: What do you mean? It’s not meatloaf, it’s not pizza: It’s meatzza!

Tim: Nope. Not buying it.

Maureen: A house divided on the Meatzza. Controversial.

“Meatzza” from “Nigellissima”

“Pasta Puttanesca” from “Easy”

Anna: This is very Bill. Very Australian. A deconstructed Puttanesca sauce.

Peter: I prefer this to our regular Puttanesca.

Anna: Why?

Peter: It tasted much fresher. Would it be the tomatoes?

Anna: Probably. He uses cherry tomatoes instead of tinned. And green olives instead of black. And, controversially he adds parmesan shavings at the end. I don’t think the Italians would approve.

Peter: I don’t mind. I liked it. Nevermind the Italians.

Anna: It’s a very Bill thing to do fresh, chunky pasta sauces like this with penne. I think it makes it a little difficult to eat. You end up chasing bits of olives around the bowl. I enjoyed this but, unlike you, not as much as the original.

“Pasta Puttanesca” from “Easy”

“Lentil and Feta Salad” from “Food”

If you’d like to try this salad yourself, Google Books has reproduced it here.

Maureen: Something for you, Tim. A lentil salad! You love lentils.

Tim: I do.

Maureen: There’s something for me in this too. Feta cheese! Hooray. This wouldn’t be good for vegans, though. What do you think?

Tim: I thought this was good, but I’d like this dish more hot than cold.

Maureen: I know what you mean. The recipe says that this is best served at room temperature, but I disagree. I think it would be much better with lentils hot and straight out of the pan.

Tim: I don’t think this really works at room temperature, I have to say.

Maureen: Agreed. This is good, but would be even better warm. Room temperature doesn’t really work, unfortunately.

“Lentil and Feta Salad” from “Food”

“Rustic Summer Crumb Pasta” from “Fresh, Fast, Simple”

Maureen: First of all, there’s a problem. The name of this is “Rustic Summer Crumb Pasta.” Can anyone tell me what the problem is?

Andrew (12): It’s not summer.

Maureen: Bingo! But I’m not sure what makes it a summer dish. It’s not as if there’s anything really fresh in there other than the basil, but you can get that year round. What did you think?

Andrew: I think it’s really nice.

Nicholas (8, therefore not prone to liking much of anything that’s new): It’s good!

Maureen: Praise be! Nicholas likes it!

Continue reading ““Rustic Summer Crumb Pasta” from “Fresh, Fast, Simple””

“Rustic Summer Crumb Pasta” from “Fresh, Fast, Simple”

“Fresh Tomato Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

Andrew (12): Is this a Jamie Oliver recipe?

Maureen: Yes. We’re still eating from the delights of Great Britain’s kitchens. Why do you ask?

Andrew: Because it looks… interesting.

Maureen: Good interesting or bad interesting?

Andrew: In the middle interesting.

Maureen: Hmm. So what do you think?

Andrew: It’s a bit too tomatoey. All I can taste is tomato and nothing else. So that decreases its grade slightly.

Maureen: Jamie says that it “pays respect to that iconic Heinz tinned soup that we’ve all grown up loving.” But if I wanted Heinz tomato soup, I would just buy some. It would save me a lot of trouble.

Continue reading ““Fresh Tomato Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain””

“Fresh Tomato Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

“Classic Stir-Fried Chicken with Basil” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Kirstin: So, what did you all think of this stir-fry?

Ella: Yum!

Tom: This was great. Especially with that lovely sweet chilli sauce again.

Miles: Mummy, do you eat everything, even when you don’t like something?

Kirstin: Yes, I do. But I don’t like oysters. And I’m not very keen on snails.

Miles: What about olives? Or lettuce?

Kirstin: I like olives. And lettuce.

Continue reading ““Classic Stir-Fried Chicken with Basil” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian””

“Classic Stir-Fried Chicken with Basil” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Grilled Salmon with Courgette and Tomato Salad” from “Taste of Home”

Kirstin: This was fab. She says the salmon has to be in season, but ours was defrosted.

Tom: Well, I had thirds of the salad. Yum!

Continue reading ““Grilled Salmon with Courgette and Tomato Salad” from “Taste of Home””

“Grilled Salmon with Courgette and Tomato Salad” from “Taste of Home”

“Rigatoni with Aubergine” from ” A Taste of Home”

Anna: You’ve just said she’s ruined aubergines.

Kirstin: She has. I like my aubergines crunchy. These are soggy and taste of vinegar. I mean what was the point of frying them if we then had to stick them in the sauce like that?

Anna: I don’t mind a soggy aubergine and I don’t mind the taste of vinegar, but I can hear what you’re saying. We think perhaps this would work better if you added the vinegar to the tomatoes first and then added the aubergine.

Continue reading ““Rigatoni with Aubergine” from ” A Taste of Home””

“Rigatoni with Aubergine” from ” A Taste of Home”