Tag Archives: canned tomatoes

Quick Pork Ragu (serves 6 with Pasta)

Okay, this is a crazy weekend with far too many things on my plate to wax on about how great this easy-peasy (lemon-squeezy!) pork dish tasted. As is pretty obvious I love to cook, but sometimes the pressure of time makes it an activity that is squeezed in between all the other things that are part of my life.

A great speedy ragu

A great speedy ragu

The same goes for the writing. I have only time enough to give the recipe before zooming off to do the million things that very inconveniently came crashing down on me all at one time! I don’t like when my weekend is taken up with things that are not so important to me but still need to be done.

On the bright side, if you only came to my blog for a recipe then it will be convenient as you to not have to scroll through a lots of extra stuff to get to it!

This is a great dish if you too find yourself short on time this weekend. You can also double up and feed a crowd!


You will need:

1 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 stripes bacon, roughly chopped or sliced

1 medium sweet or yellow onion, small dice

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (chili flakes)

1/2 cup white wine

28 oz can tomato puree

1 tbs tomato paste (regular or smoked)

1 tsp salt

several grinds of black pepper


1 – Put sauce pot or deep saute pan on medium heat and add oil. When it warms add the onions and cook for 2 minutes before adding the chopped bacon. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally before adding the rosemary. Cook for another minute.

saute onions, bacon & rosemary

Saute onions, bacon & rosemary

2 – Season the pork with the sea-salt and pepper and turn up heat. Add the pork and cook for 5 minutes until it takes on a light brown color. Add the wine and turn the heat up to high. Let it bubble for about 1 minute.

add pork

Add pork

3 – Add the tomato puree, paste, and chili flakes and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

et voila!

et voila!

Serve with spaghetti, ridged penne or pasta shells. A salad on the side would also be a nice addition.

Lightening Fast Pasta For One! (Spaghetti with Garlic, Tomatoes & Capers)

I walked into my house last night at 8.05pm and was sitting eating this lovely dinner with a glass of wine by 8.20pm – talk about Fast Food!

my version of Fast Food (Spaghetti with Garlic, Tomatoes & Capers)

My version of Fast Food (Spaghetti with Garlic, Tomatoes & Capers)

You know those nights when you arrive home late and all you can think about is food? This can go a few ways: you can grab a microwave-able dinner, eat something like a hunk of bread with cheese, or take one moment longer to think about what you could cook and go for that. Last night I choose the latter.

I felt really hungry yes, but I also knew that I deserved something good and something that I would actually enjoy once I had taken my coat off and sat down. We go that extra mile for so many things that are less important than moments like this and I have learned to recognize those moments.

everything I would need for dinner ready in a flash

Everything I would need for dinner ready in a flash (spinach, cheese, garlic & capers)

Within 5 seconds I had scanned the fridge and saw a jar of capers and the lovely parm cheese. The next thing I did was put a pot of water on for pasta and made a vow to have the whole thing ready by the time I was draining the spaghetti. There was even time to pour a glass of wine while I waited for the pasta water to boil!

My dinner was more lovely than you can imagine and I slurped up every last bite like it was my last supper.


*This recipe is for one but multiply the ingredients according to how many you would like to cook this for, and it will work out just as fab!*

You will need:

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped spinach

1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped

1/2 cup diced tomatoes with juices (I used a good quality canned variety – you should always used canned when tomatoes are not in season –  a Summer tomato is welcomed here however)

1 heaped tbs capers (don’t even bother rinsing)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (chili flakes)

1/4 cup (or more if you like) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

spaghetti for 1 (I just took a handful from the box that I thought would work for me)


1 – Immediately put pasta water on to boil: Add a tsp of salt and a drop of olive oil to the water and cover with lid so the water comes to a boil faster. Add the spaghetti when water boils and cook according to instructions. When ready to drain, scoop out about a 1/4 cup of pasta water and reserve for your sauce. Do not rinse pasta. You will be transferring hot pasta directly to your cooked pan sauce.

cook spaghetti..

Cook spaghetti…reserve some cooked pasta water and do not rinse noodles when cooked!

2 – Prep ingredients as instructed above. When you add the pasta to the boiling water start to make your pan sauce. Put saute pan (big enough to hold the completed dish) on medium/low heat and add the oil. When it warms, add the tomatoes and juices and let it cook for 1 minutes. Add the garlic and capers and stir.

tomatoes, then garlic & capers

Tomatoes, then garlic & capers

3 – Add the chili flakes and cook everything for a minute or two.

stir adn cook for a minute or two

Stir and cook for a minute or two

4 – Next toss in the spinach and stir everything together. Spinach will wilt and begin to cook into the sauce after a minute or so.

add spinach

Add spinach

5 – The moment the timer goes off on your pasta, scoop out a 1/4 cup of water and add to your pan sauce. Drain the pasta and immediately add to the pan. Turn off heat and mix everything with the help of two wooden spoons.

Serve with lots of grated Parmagiano reggiano

Serve with lots of grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Tip the entire dish into a waiting warmed bowl or plate and garnish with the grated cheese. Drizzle with a good quality olive oil if you have it.

Thick-Cut Pork Chops With Rich Homey Sauce (serves 4)

 I was accosted by my daughter urging me to make dinner ASAP as she was “going through a growth spurt” and as a result, was starving earlier in the evening than usual. It was hard to think of what to make under such pressure? When I get hungry, I am transformed into a crazed lunatic, and I think my daughter has inherited this wonderful quality!

Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Rich Homey Sauce - yep, last night's dinner

She suggested pork, but that would mean running to the shop, which would make dinner late, and then I would have to deal with a very cranky, hungry 10-year-old. I was just about to give in to her request and zip to the chop shop, when I remembered I had bought 4 handsome pork chops the other day. I had forgotten all about them.

Dinner was thrown into the oven, quick smart, and a piece of buttered toast was enough to satisfy until dinner was ready.

The chops were tenderly delicious, and the sauce unctuous. This dinner could be put together by a child, so all you timid cooks head to the kitchen, and give this one a go. It will not disappoint.


You will Need: 4 thick-cut pork chops (1″), 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp cumin seeds, sea-salt, freshly cracked pepper, 1 cup baby carrots, 2 celery ribs, with leaves, sliced, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 14 oz plum tomatoes, sliced (1 can), including juices, 4 thyme sprigs, 3 or 4 sage leaves, 2 tbs all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cup white wine, 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth).

Preheat oven 400*

1 – Put your chops on a plate or board and pat them dry. Season each one with salt, pepper, and cumin seeds (1/2 tsp cumin per chop). Place big saute pan on high flame and add 2 tbs of oil. When it is hot, add the chops and sear on both sides until golden (you may need to add more oil when you turn the meat). Transfer to plate.

sear chops

2 – Turn heat down to medium/low and add 1 tbs of oil if needed. Saute the diced onions for 5 minutes.

saute onions

3 –  Add the celery and carrots and continue to cook for another 8 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and flour and cook for another minute or 2.

saute veggies

4 – Turn heat up to high and add the wine. Let it bubble and thicken, stirring continually for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the rest of the liquid (broth) and cook until it starts to simmer. Add the tomatoes and their juices and stir. Add the chops in an even layer and when liquid comes to a simmer, cover with lid and place in the oven for 1 hour.

add wine, then tomatoes & broth

6 – Test chops for tenderness by piercing with a knife. They should be extremely tender. Let everything rest for 5 or so minutes before serving.

oh my...

I served this dinner with plain basmati rice and it was perfect. It would also be good on its own, or, boiled baby potatoes.

Baby-Back Ribs in Rich Red Sauce (serves 4-6)

My sister called to chat and after a bit she asked what I was cooking tonight. I said I didn’t know but that I was staring at about 5 lbs of baby-back pork ribs? At this point I told her that some days I have very definite ideas of what I feel like making and other days (like yesterday) I literally just grab ingredients and the dish sort of evolves as I cook.

Baby-Back Ribs in Rich Red Sauce - unctuous!

At the moment she asked I decided that while on the phone I would walk around my kitchen (which took about 3 seconds!) and gather the things I would use.

I assembled shallots, garlic, a big can of plum tomatoes and grabbed the only fresh herb in the fridge, a sprig of rosemary – that was it. I was also having a glass of red wine so the bottle was sitting there too.

“OK,” June said, “what are you going to do?” In that moment I decided that I would take a very hands-off, lazy approach to dinner….”simmer the ribs in tomatoes and wine!” That is what I did and I was very happy with the outcome.

The sauce turned into a rich pungent liquid and the meat was tender and falling off the bone. This will definitely be made again, (when June comes to visit!)


You will need: 5 lbs baby-back pork ribs, cut into 2 or 3 ribs sections, 4 big shallots, roughly diced, 5 cloves garlic, sliced, 28oz tin Plum tomatoes with their juices, roughly chopped (I used San Marzano tomatoes), 1 cup red wine, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup water, 1 sprig of rosemary, left whole, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbs unsalted butter, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning.

Sear meat in batches..

Preheat oven 375*

1 – Put big saute pan on high heat and add the oil. Season the meat with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and sear until brown in batches. Transfer to plate or big casserole dish (If your saute pan is big enough to hold the complete dish use it ).

Saute shallots and garlic..

2 – When meat is browned  turn heat down to low/medium and saute garlic and shallots for 4 minutes.

3 – Add wine and bring to a slight bubble. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes before adding the stock,  tomatoes and rosemary sprig.

4 – Return the meat to the pot (or pour the contents of the pan into a casserole pot or dutch oven with the meat). Give everything a stir and arrange the meat in even layers. Cover and place in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. (If serving with rice or pasta, time it so as it is cooked when the ribs are ready)

1 hour 15 minutes later..

When cooked, remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving with rice, pasta, or a good quality bread (for sopping up the great sauce!).