Butternut and other Squash are at their most plentiful in Autumn and, unless you have a lot of cool storage, need to be used within a month or two. (See here for tips on storage of squash.) This butternut and chicken pasta dish builds on the sweet smoothness of butternut squash to make a voluptuous and tasty dish that can be served with pasta, rice or with potatoes and other vegetables. Small portions can also be set into upturned moulds and served as a starter. If you do not have butternut, other firm types of squash can be used, or, indeed, we have also made this recipe with golden courgettes but this does not produce the same texture which is the signature of this dish.
Ingredients for 4 to 5 generous servings:
2 table spoons (30ml) cooking oil
500g (approximately 1lb) of chicken breast meat cut into 1cm (0.5 inch) cubes
2 rashers of bacon chopped into 6mm (0.25 inch) squares
225g (8 oz) of onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic (or to taste), skinned and crushed
Approximately 300g (11 oz) of butternut or other squash, see above, cut into 1cm (0.5 inch) cubes
400g (14oz) of canned chopped tomatoes. Some of these may be substituted with fresh de-skinned chopped tomatoes if available to improve the flavour of the dish.
1 glass (, 125ml 6 oz) of red wine (we used a Merlot)
1 fresh Jalapeno chilli (optional) de-seeded but left whole for a subtle heat or chopped for a more vigorous energy. Other chilli types can be used but caution is advised!
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried Mixed herbs and/or Oregano added to taste, start with 2 level teaspoons (10ml)
Serve with approximately 80 – 100g (3 to 4 ounces) uncooked weight of pasta (spaghetti or fusili) per person or with potatoes and other vegetables as a form of stew.
Prepare all the ingredients. De-skinning the fresh tomatoes is most easily accomplished by drowning them in almost boiling water and waiting a few minutes for the skins to split and/or loosen from the flesh. Heat the oil in a large frying or saute pan and when hot add the onion, garlic, bacon and chicken. Fry until the onion is soft and the chicken has lost all its raw colour. Reduce the heat and add the squash, fry gently for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the chopped tomato, chilli (if used) and wine (if also using fresh tomato, keep this to one side and add later.) Stir and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until the butternut is soft.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the herbs. At this point add the fresh tomatoes if used. Stir thoroughly, cover and cook until the chicken is tender.
If looking for a mild heat, remove the whole chilli before serving.
In East Asia soups are a staple part of any diet. This Thai style chicken soup is easy to make and requires few ingredients, none of which are difficult to obtain. The amounts shown here serve 4 generously as a main course or 6 as a starter. Serve with a rice dish as a main, a simple egg fried will suffice. Halve the amounts for 2 servings. prawns can also be used as the main ingredient.
12oz to 15oz ( 330 – 420g) of chicken breast fillet, skinned
14oz (800ml) Coconut milk
2 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1/2pt (600ml) chicken stock (see later)
Red chillis to taste, start with 2, finely chopped
2 stems of lemon grass or 4 rounded teaspoons of lemon grass paste
2″ (5cm) piece of fresh ginger or 4 rounded teaspoons ginger paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1oz/30g or slightly more bunch fresh coriander, chopped, stalks and all
Salt and pepper to taste
If using fresh ginger and/or lemon grass, crush these to release their flavour. Add the lemon grass and ginger to the coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat slightly and allow to cook just off the boil for 15 minutes or so. In the mean time, prepare the chicken by slicing into 1/2″ (1.5cm) squares about 1/8″ (3mm) thick.
Prepare the chicken stock either using stock cubes or preferably gel pots and hot water. If using home made stock, make sure that it is not too strong in flavour, warm throroughly before adding. Add the stock, peanut butter and chicken to the spiced coconut milk mixture. Bring to a gently simmer again. Cook for about 15 minutes until chicken is soft.
Add the fish sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Remove the whole ginger and lemon grass if used and add the coriander but keep a few coriander leaves as a garnish to sprinkle on the soup after serving.
Serve and enjoy.
This soup can also be made with de-veined fresh or pre-cooked prawns instead of chicken. If frozen prawns are used, ensure that they are thoroughly de-frosted before use. Un-cooked prawns should not be added until the last 5 minutes of cooking, cooked prawns 3 minutes before. Check the seasoning before serving.
Chicken lends itself to curry recipes as it is low cost, plentiful, cooks quickly, is nutritious and liked by most people. Many curries, particularly those from take-away shops, seem to have far to much oil or have a heavy sauce. This free recipe is for a curry with a lighter than usual sauce and includes vegetables so reducing the necessity for side dishes and keeping the calorie count as low as possible without sacrificing flavour. It can be made as hot or mild as you like by adjusting the chilli and cayenne. Serve with plain boiled rice (allow 320g for 4 servings) and if needed a side dish of carrot and cabbage curry or a spinach dish.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
400 – 500g (approximately 1 lb) chicken breast meat off the bone and skinless. If using thighs that are on the bone use 600g and cook slightly longer.
1 large onion, about 200g (0.5lb) medium sliced into half rounds.
1 medium size red pepper, approximately 100 – 125g cut into strips 1/4″ (6mm) wide and 1″ (2.5cm) long
1 medium size green pepper, approximately 100 – 125g cut into strips 1/4″ (6mm) wide and 1″ (2.5cm) long
3 medium size fresh tomatoes, approximately 6oz (300g) , peeled and cut into 8 segments
1 medium size (2″ or 5cm long) hot green chilli. More may be used if you prefer a hotter curry. De-seed the chilli if you want the flavour of chilli without so much heat.
3 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil for frying
2 large cloves garlic, crushed in a press
1 tablespoon (15ml) ground cumin
2 teaspoons (10ml) ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon (3ml) ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon (3ml) cayenne powder, adjust according to strength required
1 1″ (2.5cm) cube of fresh ginger, very finely chopped or grated
3 (45ml) tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred but bottled will do
Peel the tomatoes by putting them into a bowl and pouring over boiling water, leave for 5 – 10 minutes and the skin should start to separate from the flesh. Remove from the bowl and peel properly. Make a paste by mixing the water with the ground spices in a small dish. Prepare all the other ingredients.
Heat the oil over a medium high heat and add the onion when hot, stir and fry for 3 minutes or until the onion just starts to brown. Add the chopped ginger, crushed garlic and chopped green chilli. Stir and fry for a further minute. Add the chicken and continue to stir and fry until the meat has lost all its pink colour and has begun to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the ground spice paste, continue stirring and frying for 3 minutes ensuring that all the chicken is well coated in spice mix. Cover and cook on a medium low heat for 5 minutes making sure that the mixture does not stick or burn. Uncover and add the sliced peppers, continue stirring and frying until the mixture comes back to the boil. Stir in the sliced tomatoes and salt, continue heating whilst stirring occasionally until the mixture is back to a gentle boil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes on a low to medium heat until the chicken is tender, check frequently. If the mixture shows signs of sticking, add a little water and bring back to a simmer.
Add the lemon juice and stir, continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add the fresh coriander, stir once and serve.
Other vegetables can be added in place of some of the peppers, these include aubergines (add near the start of cooking), bean sprouts (add near the end). Always make sure that they are fresh. Try the basic recipe first.