Wagamama shichimi spiced duck ramen

Anyone that has the Wagamama book will know that an ingredient list of seven, is actually 17. Be it a stock, a spice rub, paste or sauce, you’ll be flicking back to pages five and nine for a recipe on page 143 – it’s just how it is. For this recipe, I was required to make a vegetable stock, so made the simpler of the two, as I was pushed for time. The duck marinated the night before in the shichimi, a spice rub I’ve not sued before.

I will be honest, I was worried this was going be a bit wishy-washy, a basic veg stock with some bits and a duck drowning in it – however, this was actually a really tasty dish. In hindsight, I could have packed in some more greens to the stock when completely the dish such as tender stem or sugar snaps.

What made this dish for me, other than a warming broth on a cold night and crispy skinned, pink duck, was how the shichimi flavoured the soup for an extra kick right at the end.

This is a fabulous recipe, and because you marinate the duck and make the soup the night before, is actually doable for a busy midweek.


Steak and ratatouille (serves two plus left over stew for lunch)

This has been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s steak and ratatouille with saffron rice recipe. You can find his recipe on his website here. I’ve changed and reduced it slightly to include some more vegetables and dropped the rice. There is enough ratatouille to heat up at work the next day, lovely with a soft roll or on its own.

This recipe packs in loads of vegetables, but also has a nice indulgent hit topped with blushing steak. For such a chunky stew, it actually tastes fresh and light with the passata spiked with the unmistakable fragrance of basil.

The below is just a guide – if you’ve got extra veg, feel free to chuck it in.


  • One small courgette
  • One small aubergine
  • One red onion
  • 1 teaspoon harissa
  • Two mixed peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • 700g passata
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Half a bunch of basil
  • One handful of spinach
  • 100g frozen peas
  • One sirloin steak


  • Allow the steak to come to room temperature for half an hour, or at least while you prepare the vegetables and get the pots out!
  • Trim the courgette and aubergine; slice the courgette in half long ways and the courgette into centimetre rounds. Place them all into a frying pan on a medium heat and brown on each side. Meanwhile, peel and roughly slice the onion into wedges. Deseed and chop the peppers into chunks. Pop into a medium casserole pan (or a large saucepan) with a tablespoon oil olive oil. Next, gun in the crushed garlic and the harissa and give a stir up – add more oil if it; catching. By now, your courgette and aubergine should be cooked, hack it up into large bitesize chunks and add to the onion/pepper pan. At this point, in goes the balsamic and passata – give everything a stir up.
  • At this point, you can pause. How thick or runny do you want your stew? If runny, get the steaks on soon, alternatively, turn the heat down and let to blip away until you’re happy.
  • When you know this, season up the steak with salt, pepper and olive oil, and cook to your taste on the frying pan you used for the aubergine.
  • Let the steak rest.
  • While resting, stir in any additions like half of the basil, the frozen peas and the spinach to the stew. Once rested, pour in the resting juices to the ratatouille.
  • Spoon neatly into bowls, top with perfectly blushing steak and garnish with an extra leaf or two of basil.

Chicken and Chorizo Paella (BBC Good Food)

This is a really tasty and simple to follow recipe. I know that paella has regional variations, and that perhaps this is not a purist’s recipe, but as a starting point this was fantastic. Visit BBC Good Food for the recipe.

Tagliatelle con funghi

A delicious recipe, that feels meaty because of the array of mushrooms, Antonio Carluccio’s tagliatelle con funghi is one we will do again.

His book Simple Cooking is a really nice read with some great recipes.

Don’t ignore the dried porcini, they make the dish

James Martin moules marinière

My fiancé loves moules marinière, so I wanted a classic recipe for two, and came across James Martin’s brilliant recipe.

I’ve found that cooking with shellfish is really simple – the rules are there to follow, and when you do, you can’t go wrong.

You can access James’ recipe by clicking here.

Grandad’s mussel linguine (Linguine con cozze di Nonno)

Another Jamie Oliver recipe that is simple quick and delicious – however, the recipe on the website is slightly wrong.

The website tells you to get 1kg of mussels for two, but then only uses a handful. 1kg of mussels for two is fine if that’s all you’re having with a sauce, but 1kg on mussels with pasta is far too much, so make sure you get a smaller amount.

Glitch aside, mussels are beautiful, so easy to cook and not too expensive. We will make this again.

Spaghetti vongole

I’ve wanted to cook this dish ever since watching Gennaro Contaldo cook his version on YouTube. Jamie has his own version which is exactly the same but with an addition of tomatoes (I went without ala Gennaro).

This is one of the simplest and delicious dishes you could ever make, so no wonder ‘This delicious Venetian clam pasta started life as peasant food, and has become an Italian classic…’ 

The key here is to have everything ready: ingredients out, wine opened, stalks of parsley chopped and leaves set aside. The actual cooking time and method is extremely quick and simple, with many things happening at once in no longer than ten minutes from board to bowl.

If you are looking for a new pasta dish to try at home, pop down to your fish monger, get 400g of clams (that’s enough for two) and give this a go.