Donal Skehan

Green Bean, Potato & Pesto Lasagne

Pesto LasagneLasagne is one of those classic Italian dishes which has made a name for itself across the world with a rich meat sauce, layers of creamy white sauce, pasta and cheese, itโ€™s hard to resist. I was excited to come across this lighter version made with green beans, potatoes and flavoured with basil pesto.

Serve 4-6
75g of butter, plus extra for the top
75g of plain flour
750ml of milk
pinch of nutmeg
250g fresh lasagne sheets
150g of fresh pesto
250g of green beans
500g of baby potatoes
75g of Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Boil the potatoes for about 10-12 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. Before the end of the cooking time add the green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Place a medium sized saucepan over a medium high heat and add in the butter. When itโ€™s completely melted and foaming add in the flour and whisk until you are left with a roux. Cook for 2 minutes before whisking in the milk. Continue to whisk and cook until the sauce holds a figure of eight when swirled with the whisk. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and stir in the nutmeg. Remove from the heat and stir through the pesto.

Preheat the oven to 200หšC.
Spread a little of the pesto sauce across the base of medium sized roasting tin. Lay sheets of the pasta across the base top with the sauce, green beans, slices of potatoes and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan. Repeat the process layering up the lasagne with the remaining ingredients until you are left with a final layer of pasta sheets.

Pour over the remaining sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and dot with a little butter.
Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Serve straight away with a fresh salad.

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Vodka Penne

Vodka Penne_2This recipe is inspired by the fantastic Lorraine Fanneran who runs the equally fantastic and award-winning La Cucina in Limerick with her Italian husband Bruno. She is an expert at delicious little pasta dishes and this one definitely proves that. Parents, donโ€™t worry: the alcohol burns off in the cooking, and anyway, the kids will be mightily impressed that youโ€™re giving them vodka. Lorraine suggests 4 tablespoons of vodka (plus a few in a glass for yourself depending on how bad your day has been!).

Serves 4
350g dried penne
25g ย butter
125gย pancetta or bacon bitsย or 2 slices cooked ham, chopped
4 tablespoon vodka
200ml ย double cream
3 tablespoon tomato purรฉe
A small handful of fresh flatย leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly groundย black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan accordingย to the instructions on the packet.ย Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry for 3โ€“5 minutes until golden. Add the vodka and allow to simmer for a minute before adding the cream, tomato purรฉe and parsley. Simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the sauce and mix through. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

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Cookbook Review and Competition: Two Greedy Italians

In terms of a television format, couples cooking on TV together works beautifully. First came The Two Fat Ladies, then The Hairy Bikers and now we have The Two Greedy Italians.ย  Although the format is the same, two different cooks, on the road, cooking similar food with different takes on it, for me there is so much more going on in Two Greedy Italians.ย  It’s packed full of Italian history, touching personal stories, beautiful scenery and most importantly fantastic food.ย  I had read about the pairing of these two, old, Italian chefs a couple of months ago and couldn’t wait to see what the outcome would be.ย  Antonio Carluccio, the godfather of Italian cookery for many years and Gennaro Contaldo, the man made famous as the mentor to Jamie Oliver, combine forces to create one of the warmest and most fascinating on screen duo’s TV cookery has seen.ย  Sure there might be set up shots, but at the heart of their TV show, there is a genuine friendship and a real warmth.

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