Recipes: Midweek dinner inspiration from Clodagh McKenna

Recipes: Midweek dinner inspiration from Clodagh McKenna

Roast pumpkin with mozzarella and chilli from Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna (published by Kyle Books). Pictures: Dora Kazmierak/PA.

Clodagh’s Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna is published by Kyle Books. Here the Cork-trained chef shares some recipes from the new book.

Ricotta meatballs with polenta, Clodagh McKenna style.

“This is the traditional way that they make meatballs in Sicily. I mix together minced pork and ricotta with the ground beef – the pork brings flavour and juiciness and the ricotta brings a lovely lightness,” says chef and food writer, Clodagh McKenna. 

“I serve them with polenta as they do during the colder months in Italy, but you could use spaghetti.

“This is a great freezer recipe, so make double and you can store it away. It’s nice to serve a green vegetable alongside to lighten the dish; I use cavolo nero but you could choose purple sprouting broccoli, shredded cabbage or a green salad.” 

Ricotta meatballs from Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna. Pictures: 
Ricotta meatballs from Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna. Pictures: 

Ricotta meatballs from Clodagh’s Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna 

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

200g minced beef 

200g minced pork 

200g ricotta cheese 

2 onions, diced 

4 garlic cloves, crushed 

1tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary 

80g Parmesan cheese, grated 

40g fresh fine breadcrumbs 

1 medium free-range egg, beaten 

75g polenta 

1–2tbsp olive oil 

50g salted butter, plus 

1tbsp (optional) 

400g cavolo nero, roughly chopped Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the rosemary to mato sauce:

1tbsp olive oil 

1 onion, thinly sliced 

2 garlic cloves, crushed 

1tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

400g can cherry tomatoes 

1tbsp tomato purée 

Method:

1. Place the beef, pork, ricotta, onions, garlic, rosemary, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and beaten egg in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Using your hands, shape into 30 meatballs and transfer to a plate. Cover with cling-film and place in the fridge for one hour to set so that they don’t crumble during cooking. You can also leave the meatballs in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze them for up to a month, until you are ready to cook them.

2. While the meatballs are chilling, make the rosemary tomato sauce. Place a saucepan over a low heat and add the oil, then stir in the onion, garlic and rosemary and simmer for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Next, get the polenta cooking. Pour 600ml water into a saucepan over a medium heat and season with salt and pepper. Once the water has come to the boil, whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Once it has cooked, stir in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter.

4. Now back to the meatballs. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and pour in one tablespoon of olive oil, add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Then spoon the meatballs into the tomato rosemary sauce and cook for 15 minutes.

5. Place the cavolo nero in a pan over a medium heat with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes, turning the leaves with tongs so they cook evenly.

6. Divide the polenta between four warmed bowls, followed by the meatballs, an extra spoonful of the rosemary tomato sauce and the cavolo nero. Serve.

Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna (published by Kyle Books).
Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna (published by Kyle Books).

Roast pumpkin, mozzarella and chilli recipe By Ella Walker 

Roast pumpkin, mozzarella and chilli for a swift supper.

“With sweet pumpkin spiced with chilli and creamy mozzarella, the combinations of textures and flavours in this dish are so wonderful,” says food writer Clodagh McKenna.

“It couldn’t be more simple and easy to make – a great quick-fix supper. You can swap out the pumpkin for any type of squash you like.” 

 

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

 1 small pumpkin, deseeded and cut into 5cm-thick wedges 

2tbsp olive oil 

2 x 150g mozzarella balls, drained 

1 red chilli, thinly sliced 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 

1tbsp balsamic vinegar, to serve 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

2. Place the pumpkin in a baking tray or roasting dish. Brush with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until browned at the edges.

3. Divide the cooked pumpkin wedges between two plates. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter over the pumpkin, followed by the thinly sliced chilli. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar to serve.

Kimchi cauliflower rice from Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna.
Kimchi cauliflower rice from Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna.

Kimchi cauliflower fried rice 

Super speedy, super healthy.

“This is a super-fast, healthy and delicious weeknight supper,” says food writer Clodagh McKenna. “Cauliflower rice is so easy to make – you just whizz it up in a food processor until it resembles grains of couscous.

“Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine – it is cabbage fermented with ginger, garlic and chilli, and you can buy it in most supermarkets. It has a distinctive sour taste, which goes perfectly with the fresh flavours of coriander, kale, the grainy texture of the cauliflower rice and the richness of the fried egg. It will take you about 15 minutes to make this dish.” 

Ingredients: (Serves 2) 

1 small cauliflower 

2tbsp olive oil 

2tsp toasted sesame oil 

1 small bunch of kale, central ribs removed, leaves sliced into ribbons 

2 spring onions, thinly sliced 

150g kimchi 

2tbsp freshly chopped coriander, plus extra leaves to garnish (optional) 

3tbsp dark or light soy sauce 

2 fried eggs and finely chopped red chilli, to serve 

Method:

1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, then pulse in a food processor until the pieces are the size of couscous.

2. Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the kale and cauliflower rice and sauté for three to five minutes until the kale is wilted and the cauliflower rice is beginning to brown. Mix in the spring onions, kimchi, chopped coriander and soy sauce.

3. Divide between two warmed plates and serve with a fried egg each on top, a sprinkle of red chilli, and some extra coriander leaves, if you wish.

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