The Euros are here at last! I love football, absolutely love it. I usually prefer club football, but there is something about an international tournament that builds the excitement to the extreme. The Euros may be seen as the poorer cousin of the World Cup but they are riveting none the less and with our green army on the front lines, there’s plenty of Irish interest, buzz and hope. During the World Cup two years ago, I completed my own personal challenge of cooking a dish each night from a country that was playing that day. It was quite an undertaking but it proved very valuable and worthwhile – my cooking improved dramatically, I added dishes to my repertoire (some I cannot be without now!) and my waistline expanded to the point of no return, almost! I was thinking about doing something similar for this tournament but with limited time on my hands due to work, I fear it would be too difficult. Instead, I’m going to share some quick dishes that will suit the football perfectly. Get them on when you get in from work and delve in with a beer while watching the matches…..perfect!
Pasta with Kale and Potato
Sounds interesting doesn’t it? It may not jump out as a classic but it’s seriously good and is the perfect dish for the Ireland v Italy game next Wednesday. The potato and kale recall a glorious irish colcannon, while the rest is pure Italian artistry and no, it doesn’t taste like pasta mixed with colcannon!
300g Tagliatelle Pasta
200g Curly Kale (stalks removed and chopped)
200g Rooster Potatoes (peeled and cubed)
100g Unsalted Butter
3 cloves of Garlic (finely sliced)
100g Grated Mozzarella Cheese
80g Parmesan Cheese (grated)
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt well. Add the pasta, kale and potatoes and allow to boil for 8 minutes. Drain and put into a baking dish.
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter over a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry gently for 4-5 minutes until soft but not coloured.
3. Mix the pasta, potatoes and kale well and add the mozzarella cheese. Stir well before pouring over the butter and garlic mix. Stir well and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
4. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and bake in a pre-heated 170 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Paella with Chicken and Beans
Paella is one of my favourite dishes. It has a reputation of being an elaborate, time consuming meal but it’s completely unjustified. Sure, it can be an elaborate affair with fresh fish and shell fish joined by meat and vegetables but it can just as easily be a simpler affair – great for entertaining and impressing people. It’s easy to prepare – sweat the vegetables and meat for ten mins in oil, add rice, stock and saffron and cook for 20 minutes without stirring – easy peasy! The liquid content should be double that of the rice but if it dries out a little during the cooking, it’s okay to add a little more, just don’t stir as you want a crust to form on the bottom.
Pinch of Saffron
2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Onion (finely chopped)
100g Green Beans (chopped)
1/2 Red Pepper (chopped)
75g Chorizo (chopped)
1 Chicken Leg (chopped into 3-4 cm chunks)
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
150g Paella Rice
300ml Chicken Stock (hot)
1/2 tin of Butter Beans
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Put a few tablespoons of warm water in a bowl and add the saffron. Set aside to infuse.
2. Heat the oil in a paella or frying pan and add the onion, green beans, red pepper and chorizo. Season and cook for 3 minutes before adding the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes, add the paprika and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
3. Add the paella rice and stir for a minute before adding the stock, saffron water (including the saffron strands) and butter beans. Season, stir well, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes without stirring. Serve hot.