Sunday, 11 January 2015


We went to our best friend's 40th birthday party last night and the food was some of the best I have ever tasted. They hired the lovely Sabrina Ghayour to do the cooking and she produced an absolute feast from her bestselling cookbook Persiana - it was beyond impressive. Unfortunately I was in a pretty tight dress otherwise I could have spent the entire night just eating and eating and eating….

I wish I could have taken Sabrina home with us today to cook for us forever….however instead it was up to me to provide lunch and Pascal and Arabella had requested pasta (no surprise there)!

Ingredients for 4 people:

300g of giant pasta shells (conchiglie)
Olive oil
8 herby sausages
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 tbsp puy lentils
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml chicken stock (I just used beef as that is all I had)
1/2 tub of ricotta cheese
80g Parmesan cheese, grated 

The recipe tells you to fry the sausages however I decided to be a little healthier and grilled them for 10 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking time.

Whilst the sausages are grilling, cook the shells according to their package instructions until they are al dente and then rinse them under cold water to stop them cooking.

Back to the sausages, after 10 minutes (they were almost cooked but not quite), cut them/break them into small chunks and add them to a large frying pan with some olive oil. Try not to spray yourself with oil like I clumsily did!

Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

Next add the fennel seeds and fry for another minute.

Pour in the lentils.

Then the tomatoes and tomato puree.

Finally add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Give it a stir every so often so it doesn't stick and I also broke the sausages a little more so the meat became more mince like. At this point, start preheating the oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4.

In a shallow oiled baking dish, pour in the shells.

Cover and fill with the sauce.

Dollop over small blobs of ricotta.

Scatter over the Parmesan (obviously I also added extra grated cheddar cheese but this is optional).

Cook for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden.

Then tuck in!

Pascal and I absolutely adored this - it is like a twist on bolognese. Arabella wasn't so keen - I don't know why, maybe the sausages were too herby or she was just p*ssed off it wasn't her favourite carbonara!! I am becoming a huge fan of lentils and they tasted great, the only thing I would change if I did this again would be to add mushrooms (much to Arabella's disgust) and it would go brilliantly with a green salad. It was really good and very easy and took just over an hour in total to make. You could also prepare it all before if you were having a dinner party or such. 

It wasn't Sabrina Ghayour's high standard but I was still proud of the delicious dish!

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