Top 5 Best Foods To Have After Your Workout

Eating after a workout is considered to be an important meal for the people looking to add mass and muscles. People today make a big mistake of not eating after a workout and hence end up unsatisfied with the results of their workout. They rather invest in buying supplements instead of adding nutritious food as an after workout meal. Staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water compensates for the loss of water during a workout.

A healthy but good tummy-filling lunch forms an important part of our daily diet. By the time noon comes, it’s too easy to head towards the nearest pizza joint that sells non-healthy, rich in fats pizza with zero nutritive value.

Likewise, taking in an after workout meal rich in carbohydrates and proteins like the ones given below helps to add fuel to the body.

  1. Baked Vegetables With Chicken

Baked and skinless chicken breast is rich in monounsaturated fats, proteins and other minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Vegetables fuel the body with a lot of fiber and carbohydrates. This meal is perhaps the best and provides the body with all the essential nutrients required post-workout.

  1. Omelet Of 2 Or 3 Eggs

Cooked eggs in the form of an omelet loaded with pepper and your favorite vegetables will provide you with all the proteins required by the body. It along with being healthy is delicious too. Acting as an icing on the cake, the time limit required to make it is as low as 10 minutes. Thus, it is perfect after workout meal for the ones in a hurry.

  1. Spinach And Salmon Salad

This super tasty after workout meal provides your body with everything it needs post-workout. Spinach works on adding minerals and vitamins to the body while salmon adds omega 3 fatty acids to the body and is a storehouse of proteins.

  1. Tuna Rice

Adding tuna is an old way to award nutrients to the body. Being less than 200 calories, it provides around 42 grams of proteins to the body. Adding rice to tuna adds the required amount of carbohydrates and fiber. It is advisable to use brown rice as they are a healthier option than normal white rice.

  1. Toast Loaded With Peanut Butter

Natural peanut butter, a rich source of proteins when added to whole wheat bread makes it a delicious after workout meal option. This bread when topped with fresh fruits provides carbohydrates to the body. This toast can be taken with a glass of milk to make it a complete meal and hence adds the lost nutrients back to the body.

These five foods are sure to restock the body with the lost nutrients. Apart from these, you can opt for any of the foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins but low in the number of saturated fats and sugar as an after workout meal. Getting on a starvation mode is not a healthy way to control your weight and to get rid of extra fat from the body.

ROASTED FENNEL & GOAT’S CHEESE PIZZA

I think we’re due a pizza and movie night…

That’s right, it’s time to crack open an ice-cold beer, fire up that oven, toss some pizza dough and make the everyday struggle of choosing what to watch on Netflix. Tonight is going to be one of those lazy, slob on the couch nights where delicious comfort food, company, and TV is going to trump going out (<— this is basically me every night, btw.)

But, before you go reaching for that take-out menu (not that I’m judging you, I’m not) how about, just for a second, you consider not having someone make the pizza for you, but make it yourself?

I know, I know, this kinda defeats the purpose of a lazy, stay at home, drown yourself with beer (or wine, whatever your poison) and stuff yourself full of pizza night that we have planned but hear me out for a second.

This is what’s going to happen: You’re going to pull the pizza dough that you made yesterday from out of the fridge and let it sit for a couple of hours to rise. Then you’re going to roll it out and slather in with garlic-herb butter (at which point you could just throw it in the oven and have yourself some delicious garlic-herb pizza bread but let’s not get sidetracked).

Then you’re going to toss over thick pieces of roasted fennel, crumble over a hefty amount of goat’s cheese, add a sprinkling of sun-dried tomatoes and throw it into your oven for about 5 minutes – yep, that’s all it takes. And then, when that puffed up dough dripping with melted cheese emerges from the furnace you’re going to toss over shredded basil leaves and drizzle it with a pomegranate-balsamic drizzle.

The result: a cheesy, herby pizza that explodes with the sweet-tanginess of pomegranates which = the perfect pizza to sit on the couch and stuff your face with whilst catching up on your Netflix binging (what are you guys watching right now?)

My opinion on what makes a great pizza seems to change on a daily basis; pretty much reflecting the mood I’m in and how hungry I am – which, really, is how my opinion on every type of food is formed – I’m foodie-fluid like that.

One day I will tell you the best type of pizza is the traditional Italian-like pizza; a thin and crispy base, lightly topped with very few ingredients – between 2 and four – baked to crispy perfection with a simple flavor profile – and I’ll shovel that pizza away like there is no tomorrow.

And then, on others, when I’m tired and can’t be bothered to cook dinner and that take out menu is looking oh so inviting right now, I’ll decide that the best type of pizza is the one from one of the many great pizza joints near home. Sure, they’re still following the thin (ish) base format, but they are fully loaded with toppings – a kitchen sink kind of approach. You know the ones I mean; the Meat lovers (*drool*), the Supreme (which is basically the Meat Lovers with some added veggies just to easy our pizza stuffing conscience which = *double drool*) and all the other pizza suspects that can be found at any pizza joint around the world – which is your favorite?

It’s times like these that I’m also open to a whole range of pizza toppings especially the “gourmet” range which move as far away from their Italian heritage as possible: Greek souvlaki and tzatziki, lamb and roasted pumpkin, Piri Piri chicken, tandoori chicken, and even a “Swedish style” pizza loaded with Bolognese and drowned in bearnaise sauce…

…. wow, I’m drooling just thinking about all these delicious pizzas.

But, as amazing these pizzas are I still feel like I’m cheating on the “real” traditional Italian pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I perfectly alright with this – it doesn’t keep me up at night and, on nights where I do order take out I consider them the best pizzas ever (told you, foodie-fluid!)

But every now and then I feel like I should pull the reins in and get back to classic, authentic pizzas – or close to it, anyway.

(By the way, despite my differing opinions of pizza never, ever, do I consider the deep-pan style  – you know, where there’s more dough than actual topping – to be a pizza option. I mean, what’s that all about?!?!?!?)

So this recipe came out of a need to create something a little simple and straightforward, whilst still dipping an eager toe into the “gourmet” waters of pizza making. Having had very little experience working with fennel before (and I call myself a foodie!?!?) this was immediately ticking that box for me. Add a pomegranate-balsamic drizzle and slightly traditional // slightly gourmet pizza goals were achieved.

So grab a beer, fire up that pizza oven (aka your normal kitchen oven because who has a pizza oven just lying around the house?) and turn your home into your very own traditional, but slightly different, pizzeria!

Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Fennel Pizza

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PIZZA BASE (makes three pizza bases):290g unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup of cold water
  • 2 tbsp polenta – for dusting
  • FOR THE TOPPING (makes 1 pizza): 50g butter, softened
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried herbs of your choice
  • 120g fennel, sliced into thin strips
  • 50g soft goat’s cheese (I used a semi-soft Chèvre), crumbled
  • 1 tbsp diced sun-dried tomato
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. The day before you want to make pizza: Sift together the flour, salt, and yeast until well combined. Add the water and olive oil and bring it together into a dough. Knead for about 10 minutes (this can be done in your mixer with a dough hook) until the dough is a soft and slightly sticky dough. If you are using a mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom. Add a little flour or water to adjust if necessary (a tablespoon at a time).
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and cut into three equal pieces. dust with flour and shape into balls. Take one of the dough balls and place them onto a plate. Spray with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. You can do the same with the other two balls (they can be on the same plate as the first) if you want to make more that one pizza but, if not, brush them with cooking oil, place them in freezer-safe bags/ containers and freeze for up to three months, transferring to the refrigerator 24 hours before you want to make pizza again.
  4. Two hours before you want to make the pizza, remove the dough from the fridge. Place the dough on a floured surface, and dust the top with flour. With floured hands, gently press the ball into a disc shape about ½ inch thick. Place back on the plate, mist with spray oil and leave in a warm dry place for two hours. Repeat with the remaining dough balls if making more than one pizza.
  5. An hour before making the pizza, preheat your oven to 200°C / 390°F. Place the fennel on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked. Remove and set aside. Now turn the heat of your oven up to its hottest temperature (mine reaches around 260°C /. If you have a pizza stone, now is the time to put it into the oven.
  6. Once the dough has stood out of the fridge for two hours, transfer it to a floured surface and knead for a minute. Now roll the dough out into a large circular shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect – you can see mine wasn’t!) Sprinkle a generous layer of polenta onto the back of a baking sheet/ pan and place the pizza base on top.
  7. Stir together the butter, garlic, and dried herbs and spread over the pizza base, leaving ½ – 1cm gap around the edge. Add the roasted fennel, goat’s cheese, and sundried tomato to the base.
  8. Once the oven is hot enough, slide the pizza from the baking sheet onto the pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, place another baking sheet into the oven moments before you are ready to cook the pizza and slide it on to this. The cooking time will depend on how hot your oven can get and, through several tests, I find the pizza can turn from undercooked to overcooked very quickly. Start at three minutes and, if still not cooked (the base should be golden and crispy around the edges) keep checking it at 1-minute intervals until done.
  9. Whilst the pizza is cooking, combine the pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar. Once cooked, remove the pizza from the oven and allow to stand for a minute before drizzling over the pomegranate-balsamic drizzle, and sprinkling over the chopped basil. Slice and serve.

JERK CHICKEN TACOS WITH MANGO SALSA

And, Bam! just like that the day became awesome!

First off it’s Tuesday (which means it’s no longer Monday!)

Secondly, the weather in Sydney has flipped from chilly winter to a warmish hint of spring (a little early and bound not to last very long but I’ll take anything I can get right now)

And thirdly I have some very exciting things happening in the very near future that I’m kid-at-Christmas excited about (a secret for now, but I will let you guys know about it when it happens!)

All this is coming together with these Tacos is like the epitome of foodie satisfaction that I can’t get rid of. Yes, this Taco Tuesday is going off with a bang!

Although, really, does any other Taco Tuesday happen any other way? Have you ever had a bang-less Taco Tuesday? Of course not, it doesn’t happen, right? Every time Tuesday rolls around and Tacos are the menus you know you’re going to have a bangin’ Tuesday evening. The tacos, the toppings, the sauce (it’s always about the sauce) the good company, the good beer/ wine, the satisfaction of curling up on a couch, Netflix loading (which with my stupid internet takes an age), and stuffing yourself silly with warm tortillas stuffed all sorts of delicious stuff.

That is what Taco Tuesday is all about. And I love it. I love it so much that I consider it appropriate to have Taco Tuesday on any day of the week; in fact my little inner-anarchist kind of revels in the fact that I have Taco Tuesday on a FRIDAY, like what? hello, rule-breaking here!

But I say: Bring. It. On!

And so to let you in on why THESE tacos are going to give you the bang for your buck this Taco Tuesday:

So, first of all, it is the chicken. Yes, we’re straying away from the Mexican/ Tex-Mex feel of Tacos for a second and we’re going to dip our toes (alright, I mean we’re going to dive headfirst) into the sacred pool of foodie fusion. This time it will be the flavors and aromas of the Caribbean; we’re going to throw together ginger, allspice, garlic, thyme and a little rum (I told you, this Taco Tuesday is going to go off with a BANG!!!) and we’re going to throw in the chicken and let it marinate for as long as possible.

Now, if you have the forethought and planning aptitude of a military general then this chicken will be best if prepared the day before you need it and marinaded overnight. If, however, you have the planning skills of a toddler – like me – then a few hours will do just fine.

Next: as the chicken is sautéing nicely in a pan (slow and steady wins the race here friends, we don’t want any dried-out chicken) we’re going to prepare the mango salsa. The sweet, juicy flavors of the mango are going to mingle with the cucumber, cilantro, onion, corn and lime juice like it’s a professional socialite and is going to play flavor-wonders with the jerk chicken.

And then, pièce de résistance, we’re going to top it all off with a chili-avocado sauce – or what I like to call Guacamole-sauce. Yes, we’re going to take very simple and chunky guacamole and we’re going to blend it down into a creamy, pour-worthy sauce. And, once the tacos are filled with jerk chicken and mango salsa, we’re going to drown it in the guacamole sauce like the professional taco eaters we are.

Jerk Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa and Guacamole sauce for the win!

I have a confession to make. Being the nude-food hero and all I do, of course, like to make everything from scratch and, it has been my plan for some time to make my own tortillas. Now, this is not exactly the wildest of make-it-yourself endeavors but it does take a little bit of tweaking and a little bit of practice which equals time and enthusiasm.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a few weeks (read: months) ago I did indeed dive whole-heartedly into tortilla making. I read and researched as many recipes and how-to’s as I could. I even went out and bought a fancy tortilla press and cast iron tortilla pan and even Masa Harina flour to make kick-ass corn tortillas with.

And when I first obtained these things I did find it therapeutic and cool (and by “cool” I mean food blogger getting excited about mundane cooking things cool) and making my own tortillas was going to be my thang.

But, as I said before, things do need a bit of tweaking and practice. And, although many of the recipes I tried produced beautiful tortilla, they just weren’t quite right. They weren’t something I would reproduce and place on this blog for you guys knowing that I could back them with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

And I need that.

And so the tortilla making was placed on the back burner because it seemed whenever I needed tortillas, it was a time when I was throwing together a recipe containing tortillas, it was a time when time and enthusiasm were low (i.e. weeknight dinners) so grabbing that pack of ready-made tortillas was convenient (which in turn plays havoc with my nude-food hero conscience like you wouldn’t believe!)

But the good job I brought that Tortilla press!

So, of course, I am telling you that, to make this recipe and remain in the three of a bangin’ Taco Tuesday, you should definitely just grab the ready-made tortillas and bring it on (unless you are a tortilla-making aficionado which, if that is the case, I would expect nothing less than homemade tortillas as well as a few tips, tricks to be written in the comments below!)

So get yourself ready for the most bangin’ Taco Tuesday you’ve had in a while and stuff your face with these Jerk Chicken Tacos, lightly tossed with mango salsa and drowned in Guacamole sauce.

Until next time Foodie Friends – Happy Taco Tuesday!

JERK CHICKEN TACOS WITH MANGO SALSA

  • PREP TIME: 30M
  • COOK TIME: 10M
  • YIELD: 6 – 10 TACOS
  • CATEGORY: CHICKEN, MEXICAN

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 flour or corn tortillas (depending on the size)

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 500 grams chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rum

FOR THE MANGO SALSA

  • 120 grams fresh mango sliced into small cubes
  • 140 grams cucumber, sliced into small pieces
  • 80 grams of corn kernels
  • 1 small red onion (around 90g) finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro (around 15g), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE CHILLI-AVO SAUCE

  • 200 grams avocado, chopped
  • 1 long green chili, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 15 grams fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 1 cup of water

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR THE CHICKEN

  1. Combine the allspice, ginger, garlic, thyme, chili pepper, salt, olive oil, and rum and add to the chicken in a large non-reactive, sealable container or bowl. Massage the marinade into the chicken and leave in the fridge, covered, to marinate for at least an hour but overnight preferred.
  2. On the day of making, place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and marinade and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the heat.

FOR THE MANGO SALSA

  1. In a bowl, stir together all the salsa ingredients

FOR THE CHILLI-AVO SAUCE

  1. Place all the ingredients (start with just 3/4 cup of water) into your food processor or blender and blitz until a thick, but the pourable sauce is made, adding a little more water in necessary.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Warm, the tortillas either in the microwave, oven or in a skillet with a little oil. Starting with one tortilla opened out flat, add a few pieces of chicken. Spoon over the salsa and drizzle/ drown with the chili-avo sauce.

BLACK SESAME & SHIRO MISO RAMEN

Today is one of those bittersweet days…

You remember earlier this week I mentioned Sydney was have a bout of warmer weather? We had suddenly emerged from the chilly depths of winter (“chilly” in Sydney btw is around 3°C at night, around 10°C during the day – that may not seem cold to some of you but, to Sydney siders, that’s arctic conditions) and we were suddenly enjoying sunny, warm weather of around 24°C.

It actually felt warm outside. You know that warmth to the air that heralds the approach of spring; the temperature where you don’t need layers of protection from the cold; the warmth that actually makes you want to go outside…

THAT warmth.

It’s still the middle of winter here in Sydney so we all know it’s not going to last – this winter “heatwave” seems to happen each and every year (directly after an icy chill) but everyone is going to enjoy it for as long as possible. I for one enjoyed getting out of bed this morning without making the mad dash to throw on as many clothes as possible to escape the chill asap.

Because who can’t enjoy warmth and vitamin D of the sun during the middle of winter?

But, today, it sort of came to an end. It’s still warm; I’m currently writing this post sitting in a T-shirt next to my open back door and I’m warm but, since around 10 o’clock last night, it has been consistently raining. I woke up this morning and made the early morning trek to the store to buy food, trapped under thick, bleak and grey clouds that are sending down a steady and continuous shower of rain. It’s not heavy rain, you’re not going to get drenched stepping outside your door; just the slow and steady rainfall that promises to stay around all day; making the couch, Netflix and a bowl of comfort food the ideal solution.

The ONLY solution.

So, yes, it may be a slightly miserable day outside but when its warm and you have a recipe like today’s recipe, things seem pretty ok.

So enough with the detailed explanation of my weather and let me get on with telling you about what I have for you today.

Today we have a steaming bowl of black sesame and shirt miso Ramen: Japanese style noodle soup tweaked in my own little way. Delve into the world of the web for the very traditional, awesomely authentic ramen recipes of the world and you will probably find they are a time-consuming affair – some of them take days to prepare! – but I’m making sure this is a simplified, everyday-person recipe that you can whip up in considerably less time.

Let me break it down for you…

THE BROTH

The heart of this dish is the broth. It all starts with a simple stock which you can make yourself – of which I have included a simple recipe for – or you can buy ready-made from the store. Of course, being the nude-food hero and love making everything from scratch – I would suggest you make your own stock because a) it’s easy b) it tastes better and c) the entire meal will feel just that extra little bit special because you made it all (or most of it) from scratch. But I will leave that up to you (no pressure!)

Whilst the stock is cooking we’re going to make a paste out of black sesame seeds, miso paste, garlic, onions, and ginger. Now, here is where the nude-food hero is going to step away from making things from scratch – the miso paste.

Miso paste is basically fermented soybeans, generally using a koji ( the aspergillus oryzae fungus) starter with the addition of rice, barley, hemp, buckwheat or other such ingredients. Although the making of my own miso paste (and similarly soy sauce) is definitely on my foodie bucket list, the time to make miso paste is considerably long – around 6 to 12 months for a standard paste.

Now, even for the most organized and patient of people, that is a lot of forethought for a single, comforting bowl of ramen so, for now, I would indeed encourage you to buy your miso from the store – I used white (or “Shiro”) miso paste for this recipe – hence the title!

Anyway, once the paste is in with the stock we’re also going to add soy sauce (again store-bought because making soy sauce from scratch also takes a while) and mirin (a Japanese rice wine) and let it simmer for a bit to take on all that delicious flavor.

THE TOPPINGS

The toppings found in Ramen are pretty much limited to your imagination but there is generally sliced the meat of some kind – commonly pork – boiled eggs, with a soft and gooey yolk, and a little greenery such as scallions, cilantro, dried seaweed, etc.

For the meat, this recipe uses pork belly, cut into thin strips and roasted with a very simple spice rub of cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and nutmeg (my take on a Chinese five-spice kind of deal). And this is is going to be joined with the boiled egg, sautéed enoki mushrooms, a few sliced of red chili (if you like it a little zing!) and a sprinkling of cilantro just to add even more flavor.

And that’s all there is to it. Once the ramen noodles, pork belly, egg, and cilantro are laid out in the bowl, we’re going to pour over the black sesame and miso broth, grab a pair of chopsticks and go to town on this steaming bowl of foodie awesomeness!

And ramen is the perfect food for wet, grey and miserable days; a stomach hugging warmth that will make even the miserable of days seem a little brighter.

So, until next time foodies, enjoy!

BLACK SESAME & SHIRO MISO RAMEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 440 grams Ramen noodles

FOR THE STOCK

  • 600 800g chicken bones
  • two large carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped into quarters (skinny left on)
  • 4 sticks of celery, chopped into large chunks
  • 6 whole cloves of garlic
  • 4 liters water
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (I used a simple herb blend)

FOR THE BROTH

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil (can be replaced with any other oil)
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons of white (Shiro) miso paste
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin

FOR THE PORK BELLY

  • 1-kilogram Pork belly, sliced into thin, bite-sized strips
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

OTHER TOPPINGS

  • 4 soft boiled eggs, cut in half
  • 400 grams enoki mushrooms, sautéed with a little oil until soft
  • 15 grams cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4 large red chili peppers, thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR THE STOCK

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Rescue the heat and simmer for 2 – 3 hours.

FOR THE BROTH

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the black sesame seeds for 3 to 5 minutes or until they start to crackle (be careful not to burn them). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Combine the black sesame seeds, sesame oil, miso paste, shallots, ginger, garlic and 1/4 cup of the cooked stock in your food processor or blender and blitz until a thick paste is formed. Pour the pasta into a large pan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or so until it begins to lose moisture and become fragrant. Add the cooked stock, mirin and soy sauce and bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer until required for serving.

FOR THE PORK

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 390°F. In a small bowl combine the sesame oil, ground ginger, fennel seeds, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over and massage into the strips of pork belly. Place the pork on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Place the ramen noodles in a bowl of boiling water for two minutes or until soft. Drain and share the noodles amongst four bowls. Arrange the pork belly between the four bowls along with the sautéed enoki mushrooms, cilantro, and boiled eggs. Ladle or pour in the black sesame broth until the noodles are completely submerged but the other toppings are still visible. Serve.

ROASTED RED PEPPER & MINI-MEATBALL ORECCHIETTE

Excuse me, excuse me – a huge bowl of comfort food awesomeness coming through!

Can we take a minute to sit and appreciate the greatness of a big bowl of pasta – especially after it’s piled high with cheese and thrown into the oven so said cheese becomes a big gooey pool of tasty cheesy-ness. Um, *drool*!

How good is that? The pasta, the sauce, the fillings, and the cheese, all coming together into a meal that will satisfy even the most tempestuous of comfort food cravings because

BIG BOWL OF (MELTED CHEESE LADENED) PASTA = COMFORT FOOD GREATNESS

And this is what I have for you today; a really simple, really quick and delicious pasta bake-style recipe that can be thrown together from ingredients to steaming bowl of foodie awesomeness in very little time (with very little effort required either which, of course, is the ultimate goal of comfort food creation – bravo!)

So, get your mega comfort food appetite at the ready, my foodie friend, because I’m going to break this recipe down and tell you all about it…

THE PASTA

As you may have noted by the recipe title, we are indeed going to use Orecchiette or “ear-shaped” pasta for this recipe. Why? Because it sounds cool. If you think I’m joking about this justification for using Orecchiette pasta then you, my foodie friend, would be wrong. I used Orecchiette pasta in this recipe – and no other type of pasta whatsoever – because it sounds cool. Simples.

Because I’m that kinda guy. I need to stand out a little.  I have that desperate need to make my a) very simple b) very humble pasta bake sound fancy and cool…

Because we can always have penne // rigatoni // tagliatelle // spaghetti // and other such regular pasta shapes such as the little bows and the shells but how often do you see Orecchiette pasta – either in the supermarket, in a recipe or, perhaps on a restaurant menu?

Not often I’m guessing. Honestly neither had I and, up until I stumbled across the packet of Orecchiette pasta in the “fancy” pasta section of my local store – I didn’t know Orecchiette was a thing either.

Of course, it goes without saying that ear-shaped // shell-shaped // bow-shipped // penne // rigatoni  // macaroni or any other type of pasta is still pasta no matter its shape – a rose by any other name kinda deal – so although I have deliberately used Orecchiette pasta for this recipe because of the “cool” factor, this recipe will certainly not taste any less “cooler” or be any more hassle to prepare if you decide to use a more regular shape of pasta.

THE SAUCE

The Nude-Food Hero’s 5 minutes roasted red pepper sauce is probably one of my favourite recipes so far created on this blog, and I’ve probably used it in more recipes than I’d like to admit. If you’ve been following this little blog for any period of time, you’ll know I like to create a new roasted red pepper sauce recipe every week or so and usually accompany said recipe with an essay-length spiel about the sauce.

And here it is again, in yet another recipe (I can’t get enough). But I won’t hold you up too long by explaining it to you so I’ll give you the 5 Minute Roasted Red Pepper sauce 411 in three simple bullet points:

  1. It’s quick to make; only five minutes (hence its title) simply throw roasted peppers ((either store-bought or roasted in your own oven) into a blender with garlic, herbs, oil, water and – Bam! – you’re good to go
  2. It’s delicious: need I say more?
  3. It is an ideal replacement for the tomato-based sauce: give classic recipes a bit of a flavour twist by using this sauce instead of the usual crushed tomatoes // tomato sauce and see.

THE MEATBALLS

The red pepper sauce is going to provide most of the flavour in this dish so I’ve kept the meatballs pretty plain and simple – just to keep comfort food making at it’s easiest just in case your enthusiasm for making food is at an ultimate low (and your food cravings at an ultimate high)

Whilst the pasta is cooking away, you are going to throw ground beef together with a diced onion, garlic, dijon mustard, dried herbs and a pinch of salt a dash of pepper. Everything will get churned together before rolled out into mini-meatballs and pan friend until slightly golden.

Simples.

And then it is a simple case of pouring the 5 minute roasted red pepper sauce over the meatballs, followed by the pasta, stirring everything together into a saucy, meaty, comfort food mix before throwing into a baking dish, smothering with cheese, and baking until gooey!

Simple, quick and delicious. What else could you ask for in comfort food awesomeness?

Until next time foodies!

ROASTED RED PEPPER & MINI-MEATBALL ORECCHIETTE

CUISINE: Italian | RECIPE TYPE: Main | SERVES: 4 to 6

PREP TIME: 20 mins | COOK TIME: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS:

400g Orecchiette Pasta (see note)
2 cups [url:1]Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
60g of your favourite cheese
A few leaves of fresh basil, coarsely chopped

The Meatballs:

400g ground beef (mince)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

METHOD:

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Scoop out 1/2 tablespoon measures of the mixture and roll into balls. Place the meatballs in a large pan or skillet and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette pasta in boiling water until cooked. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 390°F

Add the roasted red pepper sauce and pasta to the meatballs and stir until well combined. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle/ crumble over the cheese. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle over the chopped basil and serve