Ricotta, Spinach & Aubergine Lasagne

The sauce you have to make for this vegetarian lasagne is more than you’ll need. You can use the leftovers to make a simple pasta dish (see below). The vegetarian lasagne is perfect for hitting your 5-a-day and it makes a fantastic family meal for four. Since it’s just two of us, I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the day after…

I have adapted the recipe below from Waitrose magazine, issue September 2019.

More with aubergines: Potato and aubergine curry | Charred Aubergine, pepper and bulgur salad | Melanzane Parmigiana with Green Salad

Ricotta, Spinach & Aubergine Lasagne

Serves 4 | Prep 20 mins | Cook 1hr
Easy | Vegetarian



You’ll need:

  • 3 aubergines, cut into 2cm chunks;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced;
  • ½-1 tsp chilli flakes;
  • 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes;
  • 2 tsp capers, roughly chopped;
  • 20g basil, leaves torn;
  • 250g ricotta;
  • pinch of nutmeg;
  • 250g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained in a sieve;
  • pack of fresh lasagne sheets;
  • 10g Parmesan, or vegetarian alternative
  • green salad, to serve.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/ 200˚C fan/ gas mark 7. On a baking tray, toss the aubergines with 1 tbsp oil then season. Roast for 15-20 minutes until turning golden.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook gently for 5 minutes to soften. Tip in the tomatoes and capers, bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer gently for 20 minutes. As soon as the aubergine is ready, add to the tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the aubergine is soft (5-10 minutes).  Stir in the basil and season. Turn down the oven to 200˚C/ 180˚C fan/ gas mark 6. You only need 2/3rds of the sauce, so put 1/3 aside in Tupperware – you can freeze or make the Spaghetti meal for 2 suggested below.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, mix the ricotta, spinach and a pinch of nutmeg in a bowl. Season.

In the base of a small oven dish (about 18cm x 28cm) spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce, top it with a single layer of fresh lasagne sheets, then spread the spinach and ricotta mixture on top, followed by another layer of pasta. Top with another 1/3rd of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle over freshly grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative) and bake for 30-35 mins. Serve with a green salad.

What to do with the leftovers:

Cook 180g spaghetti until al dente, as per pack instructions. Warm up the tomato sauce and mix  through the drained spaghetti. Top with a few torn basil leaves and grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative). Serves 2.

Adapted from Waitrose and Food Partners magazine recipes, September 2019 issue. Full recipe available in magazine, and part of it is available online here.

1 post has been published to the site Food Notes on Oct 16th in a previous year:

== 2018 ==
* Lamb tagine with dates & sweet potatoes

Rachel Roddy’s Penne all’arrabbiata

Last week we came home, after a 7-hour drive from Bristol to Glasgow and 5 days spent in Glastonbury. Needless to say, we were tired though very very happy. I had picked up that weekend’s issue of The Guardian’s Feast which provided me with the inspiration I needed for a quick dinner on our way home. We also saw some really nice looking heritage tomatoes in a farm shop on our way, so when I saw Rachel Roddy’s Penne all’arrabbiata in her regular Feast column, I knew it would be our perfect meal when we get back after the long drive. Sometimes, a simple pasta recipe is all you need when the sun is shining! I had run out of penne so I’ve used fusilli instead, however, I would still say – go penne all the way!

Rachel’s recipe in the guardian is for four, but perhaps more indulgently I mixed my tomato sauce with pasta for two people and it worked perfectly.

More in pasta: Prawn and ‘Nduja Linguine | Spaghetti Carbonara | Tagliatelle with roast tomato and ‘nduja sauce

Rachel Roddy’s Penne all’arrabbiata

Serves 2 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 15 mins
Easy | Vegan | Dairy-Free


You’ll need

  • 6 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed;
  • 700g peeled and chopped tomatoes (see tip below);
  • 3 dried red chillies, crumbled;
  • 200-300g penne;
  • 1-2 tbsps chopped parsley, to serve;
  • (optional: grated parmesan/or vegetarian alternative, to serve – for a vegetarian/non-dairy-free option)

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and the garlic cloves. Fry for a couple of seconds and then add the tomatoes, a good pinch of salt and the red chillies. Cook covered for 10 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, make the pasta following the pack instructions. Drain the pasta and mix through the sauce when it’s ready, along with a final swirl of extra virgin olive oil and the chopped parsley. I grated some parmesan over mine too.

Tip: To peel the tomatoes with ease, soak them in just-boiled water for a minute or so. Then carefully start peeling the skin away, it should be a lot easier! If it isn’t, leave the tomatoes for another minute in the hot water and try again.

Original recipe from Feast magazine, available online here.


Super easy tomato pasta bake

If you have been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a strong believer in making easy food that tastes good every day of the week. And you will know that midweek meals don’t have to be a hassle. This recipe, which is based on a Co-operative Food Magazine recipe that I ever so slightly tweaked, is perfect when you fancy some tasty comfort food but don’t want to/have time to spare. It’s ready in 30 minutes and it requires minimum effort. If you are feeding a family, you can just double the ingredients.

While the Co-op recipe only uses four ingredients, I took the liberty to add and change a couple of things to make this even tastier! I swapped the cheddar for creamy mozzarella, and added olives and fresh basil to add more flavour to the dish.

Super easy tomato pasta bake

Pasta Bake 2

Serves 2 | Prep 5 minutes | Cook 30 minutes
Easy | Vegetarian

Tip: If you like it spicy, add a few pinches dried crushed chilli to the tomato soup before adding it to the pasta.

You’ll need:

  • 150g fusilli pasta (or alternative pasta shapes such as penne);
  • 100g green beans, trimmed and roughly chopped;
  • 600g tomato and basil soup;
  • small handful pitted black olives;
  • 1 mozzarella ball, drained;
  • small handful fresh basil leaves, to serve;
  • grated parmesan, to serve.

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/Gas 6. Cook the pasta according to pack instructions. A few minutes before the end of cooking time, add the green beans to the pan. Drain the pasta and beans and put into an ovenproof dish.

Add the soup and black olives to the dish and mix. Shred the mozzarella over the pasta and bake for about 15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan and a few shredded basil leaves.

Original recipe from Co-operative Food Magazine, available online here.

Now a short Food Notes story. Completely unrelated to the recipe, something fantastic happened today. For the first time since I’ve opened Food Notes, I met someone who reads the blog that I didn’t know! Thank you, David, for making my day – hearing that someone enjoys the recipes I put on really meant a lot and makes running Food Notes all the more special!


Previously posted on this date (Jan 14th):

== 2018 ==
* Pan-roasted ling with clams, perry & curly kale

Prawn and ‘Nduja Linguine

I’ve been cooking a lot with ‘Nduja recently and have really enjoyed mixing it with various ingredients. Today’s recipe is for a very tasty seafood pasta, spiced up with a bit of ‘Nduja paste. I got the recipe from an old Olive magazine and you can get the link to the recipe from the link below.

Prawn and ‘Nduja Linguine

Serves 2 | Prep time 5 minutes | Cooking time 15 minutes | Easy | Under 500 Kcal


You’ll need
  • 150g linguine;
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced;
  • olive oil;
  • 150g large raw peeled prawns;
  • a splash white wine ;
  • 1 good tbsp ’nduja;
  • 12 cherry tomatoes;
  • a handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped.

Cook the linguine according to pack instructions. In a separate pan sizzle the garlic in a little olive oil then tip in the prawns and fry until pink. Scoop out the pan then add the wine and ’nduja and stir together. Add the tomatoes and cook until they just start to burst. Tip back the prawns with the drained pasta and toss everything together. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Original recipe from Olive Magazine, issue June 2015, available here.

If you are wondering what to do with your leftover ‘Nduja, try some of my other recipes featuring this spicy Calabrian salami paste.


Spaghetti Carbonara

One of the most popular pasta recipes out there and certainly a favourite at home, Spaghetti Carbonara is a staple in the Italian diet and probably almost every Italian restaurant everywhere in the world. Consisting of only a couple of ingredients, it takes about 15 minutes to cook. Though simple to make, I would say that if you want a great tasting dish you should definitely have great quality ingredients – and believe me when I say that great quality pancetta, eggs, pecorino and parmesan make this dish. Also, NEVER order or eat Carbonara that’s made with anything but those few ingredients, garlic and some seasoning. You sometimes will see people claiming to be serving authentic Carbonara that contains, for example, cream – well… it’s anything but authentic. Feel free to check this with anyone from Italy…

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4 | Prep 5 minutes | Cook 15 minutes | Easy


You’ll need:
  • 25g unsalted butter;
  • 100g pancetta, diced;
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed;
  • 300g spaghetti;
  • 40g parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated;
  • 40g pecorino, freshly grated;
  • 2 eggs, beaten.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted, boiling water, until al dente (as per pack instructions).

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large pan. Add the pancetta and whole garlic clove and cook for 5 minutes, or until the garlic turns brown. Remove the garlic. Cook the pancetta for 5 minutes more. While the pasta and pancetta are cooking, add ½ the grated cheeses to the beaten eggs, season with black pepper.

When the pasta is ready, drain and reserve a couple of tablespoons from the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and mix well, turn the heat off.. Mix a couple the pasta water with the eggs, adding one spoon at a time. This method ensures that the eggs will not scramble when you add them to the pasta. Pour the eggs, mixing well immediately so that it coats the pasta. You’ll have to be quick as you don’t want the egg to start to scramble. Mix a couple of tablespoons cooking water to make a sleek sauce. You can add the garlic back in, if you wish. Add the remaining cheese, mix again, and serve at once.

Though I cook this pretty much by heart, this is the base recipe I usually use and it’s from myWaitrose magazine. You’ll notice that I’ve changed the method a little bit, mainly to suit my style of cooking. Original recipe available here.