Tag Archives: Italian

Here you’ll find a selection of Italian inspired tasty recipes. 

Chicken & Basil Pasta

Quick, easy and tasty. This Chicken & Basil Pasta is the perfect midweek meal that is deliciously creamy but healthier than you might think. 

My take on a recipe 

One of my favourite things about cooking is being able to adapt recipes. When I was at school, I would make a chicken and basil pasta that used double cream and dried basil. I think it was a Nigel Slater recipe but I could be wrong. It is a delicious recipe, but double cream isn’t an everyday ingredient in my opinion. I love cream, but I prefer to look for healthier alternatives.  

Go-to creamy pasta sauce 

Low fat cream cheese is my go-to base for creamy pasta sauces. It provides a deliciously creamy sauce but with a fraction of the calories that you might find in other sauces. It is also a great ingredient to keep in your fridge. It has quite a long expiry date on it so I tend to always have at least one low fat and one full fat cream cheese in the fridge. The low fat is so I can whip up a tasty pasta sauce and the full fat is for cream cheese frosting. 

So quick and easy

When I say this Chicken & Basil Pasta is quick and easy I really mean it. You can make this meal in twenty minutes which is perfect for a midweek dinner. If you have any leftovers it is great for lunch the next day too. 

Although I love fresh basil, if you don’t have any you can use dried or frozen pasta. This would make this recipe even easier to make! 

Do I have to use linguine? 

Not at all. I used linguine because I like it, you can use whatever pasta you like or happen to have in the cupboard. This Chicken & Basil Pasta can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free pasta and flour. 

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Chicken & Basil Pasta

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, British
Keyword Chicken, Pasta, Basil
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 595 kcal
Author Curly

Ingredients

  • 150 g pasta
  • 200 g chicken breast (1 breast)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 100 g low fat cream cheese
  • 40 ml semi skimmed milk
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 30 g Parmesan finely grated
  • 10-15 basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta in salted boiling water as per the packet's instructions 

  2. Cut the chicken into fine slices 

  3. Add the olive oil to a pan on a medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir until it is golden brown 

  4. Turn the heat to low and add the salt, pepper and garlic 

  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the low fat cream cheese, milk and flour 

  6. Once the pasta is cooked but still al dente (with a slight bite), add it to the chicken. Make sure you reserve the water the pasta has cooked in 

  7. Add the cream cheese mixture and stir through. Add a splash of pasta water to loosen the sauce to your preference 

  8. Add the Parmesan and tear in the basil. Stir through and serve immediately 

Nutrition Facts
Chicken & Basil Pasta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 595 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 102mg34%
Sodium 1186mg52%
Potassium 688mg20%
Carbohydrates 64g21%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 41g82%
Vitamin A 530IU11%
Vitamin C 1.2mg1%
Calcium 291mg29%
Iron 1.6mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta

My Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta is deliciously creamy and packed with tasty flavours with a subtle chile kick. A quick and yummy dish which is healthier than you may think. 

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my first cookbooks as a child was ‘Real Food’ by Nigel Slater. This Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta recipe is inspired by one of his recipes in the book. I used to make his recipe all the time and it is very tasty. However it does have one slight negative; double cream. Oh and wine. The cream and wine make the recipe indulgent and delicious, but aren’t the best if you are trying to reduce the calories. 

In a bid to make this recipe healthier, but not lose flavour; I have adapted it to use a cheeky healthier sauce. You will have seen this trick in my Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta and Skinny Fajita Chicken Pasta recipes. The cream cheese mixture adds creaminess to the sauce without having all of the calories double cream has. You also don’t miss the wine because the stock helps remove all of the delicious sticky sausage off the bottom of the pan.

I was very happy with the end result and didn’t miss the cream and wine at all. That says a lot coming from me because double cream is one of my weaknesses. My Mum says I take after my Grandma with my love of cream because we could both drink it if that was socially acceptable (and obviously wasn’t quite so unhealthy!).

Mr Curly also gave this the thumbs up saying it had just the right level of spice for him, not too spicy but he could definitely taste the chile. Obviously chile flakes vary in heat so I would always recommend adding less and tasting the sauce before adding anymore. Also if you are making this Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta for children, depending on their heat tolerance I would maybe just add a pinch or leave it out altogether.

Nigel Slater did suggest using spicy Italian sausages in his original recipe, but I decided to use good quality pork sausages in mine. This is because it is harder to judge how spicy the sausages would actually be and you can’t reduce their heat. By using plain pork sausages, this gives you the flexibility to build up as much heat as you would like. 

You can use whatever pasta you like for this recipe. I must admit I did get lured in by the pretty Gigli pasta when I went to the supermarket. I really liked it’s frilly pattern which I thought made the dish look a little bit more special. Obviously this recipe will be just as delicious with any pasta shape. Wholemeal pasta is also a good recommendation, but this leads to another confession of mine. I don’t tend to buy wholemeal pasta often because I don’t think supermarkets offer a good enough range of pasta shapes! Yes I realise this sounds like a silly reason, but I like to use a variety of pasta shapes because penne every time you eat pasta would be a little boring in my opinion. 

Serves 4

450g pork sausages, de-skinned (6 sausages)
300g pasta
½ tsp sunflower oil 
3 tbsp low fat cream cheese
80ml milk
1 tbsp plain flour
250ml chicken stock
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp chile flakes
Pinch of black pepper
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Bunch of basil, sliced
20g parmesan, grated 

  1. De-skin the sausages and break them into pieces using your hands. There is no need to roll them into balls
  2. Add the oil to a frying pan over a medium high heat. When hot add the sausage pieces. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until browned and cooked through
  3. Whilst your sausages are cooking, boil the pasta as per the packet instructions in salted boiling water. Once cooked, drain and set aside
  4. Once the sausages are cooked, remove them from the pan and set to once side

  1. In a mini blender/chopper mix together the low fat cream cheese, milk and flour
  2. Turn the frying pan back onto a low heat. Add the cream cheese mixture along with the chicken stock
  3. Whisk the sauce until all of the lumps have disappeared and the sauce is smooth. Keep whisking for a minute or so until it thickens 
  4. Add the mustard, chile flakes, salt and pepper and whisk through before adding the sausage back to the pan along with the sliced basil 

  1. Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with the grated parmesan. Stir through and serve

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Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta

Creamy and delicious pasta but without the guilt. My Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta is full of flavour and lower in calories than you would expect!

Pasta is a food many people love for its versatility and speed. It can be used to make so many tasty dishes. Some of the most delicious pasta dishes can be quite calorific which isn’t ideal if you are trying to eat more healthily. 

Growing up I didn’t really enjoy eating pasta. A lot of the time my Mum made it for us as a quick meal when we were children. A lot of the time this was pasta with a tomato based sauce which wasn’t my idea of a tasty meal. Then when I went to uni, unlike most of the people I knew, I still didn’t eat much pasta at all. 

Since then I have realised that there are so many really tasty dishes you make with pasta and these definitely don’t come out of a jar. I know jars of pasta sauce are really popular, but they tend to have quite a lot of sugar in them as well as not being the healthiest option. 

My Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta is a great way of getting your pasta fix and even enjoying a delicious and creamy sauce, but with fewer calories. Would you believe me if I told you this recipe comes in at less than 450 calories per portion? For a pasta dish with a creamy sauce and meat, I think that is pretty good! And the really good thing about it is that it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’. It tastes like it is an indulgent, rich and creamy pasta dish. 

I have used HECK Chicken Italia Sausages for this recipe. I am a bit obsessed with HECK sausages and eat them frequently due to them being low in calories and great taste. This isn’t a HECK sponsored post, I just really like them. If you don’t want to use them, you can use another type of chicken sausage or leave them out completely. 

I used frozen basil in this recipe because my and fresh basil don’t seem to be friends. I like it, but it goes limp on me and dies. Because of this I don’t tend to buy it fresh very often because it doesn’t always last as long as I want it to. This is why frozen basil is a great freezer staple for me. It doesn’t pack as much flavour as fresh basil, but I think it is great to have. 

The secret of this being lower in calorie is really down to the sauce. You wouldn’t think cream a few tablespoons of cream cheese, some milk and flour could make a sauce this creamy, but they can! Parmesan is also a great calorie saver as it has far less calories than other cheeses such as cheddar. It also has a strong flavour so you need less to achieve a cheesy flavour. 

You can use any shape of dried or fresh pasta for this recipe, it really is up to you. Personally I like to use a pasta shape that will help catch the tasty creamy sauce, like conchiglie. Plus they look pretty too! 

For other healthy pasta dishes, check out my Ravoli LasagneSkinny Chicken Pasta Bake and  Skinny Chicken Fajita Pasta.

Serves 4

300g pasta
350g HECK Chicken Italia sausages, de-skinned
½ tsp sunflower oil 

3 tbsp low fat cream cheese
1 tbsp plain flour
80ml semi skimmed milk
250ml chicken stock
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp frozen or dried basil 
pinch of black pepper

20g parmesan, grated 

  1. Cook the pasta as per the packet’s instructions 
  2. Remove the casing from the sausages and split each sausage into roughly four pieces. Roll each piece between your palms to make little balls 
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat and add the sausage. Cook until crisp and brown on the outside and cooked through 
  4. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside

  1. Mix the cream cheese, milk and flour together in a mini food processor 
  2. Turn the pan onto a low heat and add the cream cheese mix to the pan along with the stock and whisk to combine. It will look a little lumpy, but keep whisking and it will come together. Keep whisking until it thickens slightly 
  3. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil and stir through 

  1. Add the sausage back to the pan and add the drained pasta

  1. Stir through and allow everything to heat through for a couple of minutes
  2. Add the grated parmesan, stir through and serve 

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Skinny Chicken & Prosciutto Pasta Bake

Deliciously creamy pasta bake which is skinny but you really wouldn’t guess it! My Skinny Chicken & Prosciutto Pasta Bake is a tasty meal that all the family will love and a great way to use up leftover chicken. 

Do you try to eat more healthily in January?

Well it’s January again (where did 2015 go?!) which means the vast majority of us will be trying to make healthier choices. I’m going to try and not use the word ‘diet’ because personally I am hoping to make a change to my lifestyle which is something more permanent than a diet.

This Skinny Chicken & Prosciutto Pasta Bake is a perfect healthier option which means you don’t have to miss out on pasta. I have adapted a recipe from Gimmie Some Oven which has an amazing, healthier, but still deliciously creamy sauce. I do love a good tuna pasta bake with a creamy white sauce, but when you actually work out how many calories are in the sauce it is quite alarming. This recipe lets you still enjoy a delicious pasta bake, but with fraction of the calories.

Does ‘skinny’ mean not as tasty?

Sometimes when recipes are made ‘skinny’ the taste is compromised to make them lower in calories. This recipe doesn’t taste like it is a healthy alternative at all. Don’t get me wrong, pasta is always going to have more calories in it than something like a salad, but this recipe is far healthier than the traditional pasta bakes that most people will have had before. 

Instead of butter, this recipe uses olive oil which is a healthier fat to make the base of the sauce rather than the usual butter. It also uses Parmesan and low fat mozzarella which are far healthier choices than the more commonly used cheddar cheese. The sauce makes a fantastic base for adding other flavours to make it even tastier. The mustard doesn’t have a distinct flavour, but it really adds a depth to the sauce which is really delicious. 

This Skinny Chicken & Prosciutto Pasta Bake is perfect for using up leftovers

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken from your Sunday roast that is a bit more imaginative than a cold chicken sandwich. If you don’t have leftover chicken, do not panic you can still make this recipe! Just season two small chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook them in the oven at 190ºC for 15-20 minutes until the juices run clear. Let the chicken cool slightly and then shred it using two forks, or your hands. If you have leftover chicken but fancy something different try my Chicken Chow Mein

I have made this recipe before by adding around 50g of diced chorizo. It is really tasty, but does add a few calories onto the dish. So I have since changed the recipe to adding slices of prosciutto (or any other cured ham) to the top. This is far lower in calories and crisps up in the oven which is so delicious. 

If you didn’t want to use prosciutto, you could always cook some bacon or bacon lardons and add these to the dish. These won’t be as healthy as prosciutto but not everyone is watching what they eat and even if you are, treats are always allowed every now and then! 

You can use whatever pasta shape you prefer (or happen to have in your cupboard). This recipe is easily made gluten free, just swap to gluten free pasta and flour. Obviously check any meat you add is gluten free too, but a lot of continental meats do tend to be gluten free. 

Got leftovers? 

This dish is also great for leftovers – perfect for lunch the next day. I sometimes find when you are trying to be healthy that lunch gets forgotten about and you end up having the same boring, low calorie lunch each day. I then end up feeling hungry for the rest of the day – maybe this is just me?! Something like this for lunch is great as it helps keep you full without being high in calories.

Updated October 2018

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Skinny Chicken & Proscuitto Pasta Bake

Deliciously creamy pasta bake which is skinny but you really wouldn’t guess it! My Skinny Chicken & Prosciutto Pasta Bake is a tasty meal that all the family will love and a great way to use up leftover chicken. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Keyword Chicken, Proscuitto, Pasta Bake, Skinny
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 713 kcal
Author Curly

Ingredients

  • 340 g pasta any shape you like
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 4 gloves of garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 250 ml semi-skimmed milk you can also use 1% milk
  • 40 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 200 g chicken cooked and shredded
  • 1 x 340g tin sweetcorn drained
  • 1 ball of low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 3-4 slices of prosciutto

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the pack' directions making sure it is al dente

  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute or so, stirring occasionally
  3. Add the flour and stir to combine. Saute for another minute or so to cook the flour, again stirring occasionally
  4. Gradually add the chicken stock whisking as you to go combine and create a smooth sauce. Once all the stock is added, whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. 

  5. Allow the sauce to thicken for a minute or so and then stir in the Parmesan cheese before adding in the oregano, mustard powder, salt and pepper 

  6. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked
  7. Preheat the oven to 190°C (fan assisted or 210°C non fan)

  8. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce along with the cooked, shredded chicken and sweetcorn. Stir to make sure the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce
  9. Pour half of the pasta into a large baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and then add the rest of the pasta. 

  10. Finish by adding the rest of the mozzarella and the prosciutto

  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to turn slightly golden
Nutrition Facts
Skinny Chicken & Proscuitto Pasta Bake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 713 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 53mg18%
Sodium 602mg26%
Potassium 449mg13%
Carbohydrates 73g24%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 220IU4%
Vitamin C 0.8mg1%
Calcium 209mg21%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Ravioli Lasagne

Rich bolognese packed with layers of tasty ravioli and melted cheese. Such a deliciously comforting dish with approximately 500 calories per portion makes it a healthier option without compromising on the taste.2015-09-27 19.04.51

This recipe was heavily influenced by a recipe my Mum made a few times when I was growing up. All I could remember was the recipe used ravioli instead of lasagne and had a bolognese style sauce. I’m pretty sure it had some form of white sauce as you would usually expect from a lasagne too but I can’t be sure. Instead of asking my Mum to hunt around for the recipe, I thought I would take elements of it and make my version of it. This also meant I could try and keep an eye on the calories in it too!

We have become a little bit too relaxed with healthy eating in my house recently so we decided enough was enough and are back on track trying to watch what we eat a bit more. This doesn’t mean I won’t have treats, but where I can I’ll try and make things a bit healthier.

This recipe is an example of this as I have used lean beef mince – although it won’t make a massive difference, every little helps! I’ve also used parmesan cheese and half – fat mozzarella. With parmesan, a small amount goes quite a long way and although the mozarella like all low-fat cheese options may not melt as seductively as normal cheese, it still tastes great and doesn’t make you feel as guilty! Obviously you do not need to use the low fat options, but in my opinion there really is no reason not to.

As well as making a very tasty dinner, we had plenty of leftovers for lunches which was equally as tasty. What this recipe lacks in prettiness, it definitely makes up for in flavour!

500g lean mince beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp rosemary, chopped
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tin of plum tomatoes
2 Oxo beef cubes
Spray oil
400g ravioli – I used beef and wine ravioli
225g half fat mozzarella
40g parmesan

  1. Put a pan on a medium heat and spray with oil. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften and go translucent, but not brown

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  1. Add the mince and using a wooden spoon, break the mince up into small pieces so you don’t get big lumps. Stir until all the meat is browned
  2. Once browned, add the celery and carrot. Add the tomato puree and stir before adding the herbs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, salt and pepper

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  1. Add the tinned tomatoes and then fill the empty tin with water from a recently boiled kettle – be careful as the tin will be hot, add it to the pan and stir
  2. Crumble in the Oxo cubes and let is simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can leave it on a low heat to blip away for a few hours, just make sure you add some more water if it starts looking dry

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  1. The liquid should have reduced so that it coats the meat but isn’t too wet – you don’t want too much liquid as it will be too wet when you bake it

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC while you assemble the lasagne
  2. Using a large oven proof dish, layer the base with half of the ravioli and then cover with half of the meat mixture

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  1. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and parmesan over the meat and pasta and then repeat using up the rest of the ingredients

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  1. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted

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  1. Serve with a side salad or whatever else you fancy

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Leek, Goat’s Cheese & Bacon Risotto

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Creamy risotto with crispy bacon and cheese is the perfect comfort food. This risotto has some of my favourite ingredients and is so incredibly creamy and delicious.

When I was at uni, my friend Zoe and I would walk to the supermarket with huge shopping lists and buy so much we had to take a taxi home. As we were on a budget, we only got the taxi to the edge of campus and struggled our way to our halls with our bags. I think the people carrying their one bag filled with super noodles and pasta must have thought we were crazy!

We liked to buy Delicious magazine and find recipes to cook together. Finding something we both liked was sometimes a little tricky with how fussy I am and with Zoe being a celiac. She made this recipe for me because she couldn’t believe I hadn’t had risotto before and it was delicious. As well as this being the first risotto I ever had, it is also the only one I have made since believe it or not. I haven’t found a recipe that sounds more appealing to me than this one.

This isn’t a dinner where you can start it and leave it to do its own thing for a while. You do need to keep stirring it and adding the stock but I find stirring weirdly therapeutic. Don’t use the amount of stock stated below as the set amount, use as much stock as you need to until the rice is cooked. You don’t want it soft and mushy, but you don’t want it to be hard either; a slight bite to it is what you’re looking for.

spray oil
1 leek, finely sliced
1 celery stick, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
small handful of thyme leaves
200g alborio rice
100ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
20g parmesan, grated
50g goat’s cheese

  1. Heat chicken stock in a pan and keep it gently bubbling over. I used a chicken stock pot because they’re quick and easy
  2. Put another pan on a medium heat and add some oil. Fry the leek until slightly soft and then remove and set aside

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  1. Add the celery, garlic and bacon and fry for 5 minutes. Add the leek back to the pan. Add the thyme and rice and stir for a couple of minutes making sure the rice is coated

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  1. Turn up the heat and add the wine, letting it bubble for a few minutes so the alcohol is cooked off. Add the stock a ladleful at a time making sure each one is completely absorbed before adding the next. Keep going until all of the stock is gone and the rice is cooked, this can take around 20-25 minutes

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  1. Take the risotto off the heat and add the goat’s cheese and parmesan, stir through until melted

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