Getting your 5-a-Day!
Today was a day of a few missed photo opportunities. This morning, I braved the chill to return to work after a 2 week break. Not fun. After scraping the ice of the car, I finally pulled off. And then stopped. I had noticed the temperature on the dashboard display. Minus 6.5 °C. I can imagine in some other countries you will scoff at this, but it’s the coldest reading I have ever seen here. I whipped out the camera, only to get the frustrating ‘change the batteries’ message. I suspect the poor little thing was objecting to the cold. The drive to work was atmospheric, with the area around work submerged in a good old-fashioned pea-souper. This cleared through the day, and blue skies emerged. Then at around 4.15, I noticed a glow in the reflection of the building opposite. It seemed that a beautiful sunset was developing behind us. Of course, I still didn’t have any batteries, so did my best to ignore it. The weather predicts 2 more weeks of the ‘deep freeze’, so I’m not too disappointed. I’m sure I’ll get another chance soon!
My own obsession is to take a Photo A Day, but no-one can have failed to notice the general obsession to eat 5 portions of fruit & veg each day. In fact, some advice now has been modified to 7 portions a day. Generally I don’t do 2 badly at this – today’s count consists of a banana, rocket salad with cherry tomatoes, 2 satsumas, 1 strawberry yoghurt, and tonight’s dinner, which was Tagliatelle al Ragu, aka Spag Bol. If I had children who didn’t eat veg, then this dish is perfect for ‘stealth vegetables’. As it is, I don’t have children, let alone fussy ones, but enjoy using vegetables to bulk out the meat sauce. My recipe has evolved over the years – it’s still based on the recipe I used as a student, but now I get more vegetables use. My version uses mushrooms, red pepper and aubergines, as well as onion, garlic and tinned tomatoes. This is basically what I do, giving around 4 good portions.
- 250g minced beef
- 100g diced pancetta
- 1 onion (white or red), diced
- 1/2 large aubergine, diced
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 150g mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (a good glug, probably around a tablespoon)
- Red or White Wine (again, a good glug! Maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons….)
- 400g tinned tomatoes (preferably chopped)
- Herbs & Seasoning
Dry fry the minced beef and pancetta in a non-stick pan until the beef is browned. Drain into a bowl through a colander to remove the fat.
Use the same pan to sauté the onion and aubergine for a couple of minutes, then add in the sliced pepper and sliced mushrooms. Add the chopped or crushed garlic. Stir well, and cook for another few minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the tomato purée to coat the vegetables, then add in the L&P sauce, and then the wine (de-glaze the pan if necessary). Bung in the meat, add the tinned tomatoes, refill the tin half-way with water to rinse, and then add to the pan. Bring to the boil, and use any seasoning or preferred herb (generally I use salt, pepper & basil).
Serve with Pasta of your choice – I prefer Tagliatelle or Penne – and top with grated Parmasan.