Tasty treats

Bacon and black pudding salad

This is a lovely light salad that is packed full of flavour. Don’t be tempted to overcook the black pudding — it needs no more than a minute on each side. It would also be delicious with a poached egg on top. Can be served as a starter or main course. Don’t forget, black pudding is one of the best sources of dietary iron.

Ingredients

Two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 175g black pudding, skinned and cut into 1cm slices, four maple cured bacon rashers, 175g mixed salad leaves (such as baby spinach and rocket ), one ripe avocado, two teaspoons of white wine vinegar, one teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, one teaspoon of clear honey, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and crusty bread to serve with.

Method

Heat a frying pan and then add a tablespoon of the olive oil, add the black pudding, and cook for one minute on each side until tender. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Snip the bacon into the frying pan and sauté for a few minutes until sizzling and lightly golden. Meanwhile place the salad leaves in a large bowl. Halve, stone, and chop the avocado. Add to the bowl and season to taste. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and add to the salad. Pour the vinegar into the pan, turn up the heat, and scrape the sediment in the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze until almost all the vinegar has been boiled off. Stir the mustard into the reduced down vinegar with the honey and then whisk in the rest of the olive oil until you have achieved a nice emulsion. Break the black pudding up into pieces and scatter over the salad, then drizzle over the dressing. Toss lightly to combine and then arrange on plates to serve. Hand around a basket of crusty bread separately.

Eggy bread BLT

This has to be the ultimate bacon sandwich! It’s a good idea to cook the bases of the ciabatta first so that you can start assembling the sandwiches while the tops are cooking. Just make sure that your heat is not too high, otherwise the bread may brown too quickly.

Ingredients

Four eggs, two tablespoons of milk, one large ciabatta loaf, two tablespoons of olive oil, 12 smoked streaky bacon rashers, rinds removed, one tablespoon of good quality mustard, two tablespoons of reduced fat mayonnaise, two tablespoons of tomato ketchup, 25g rocket, four small vine tomatoes, finely sliced and freshly ground black pepper.

Method

Crack the eggs into a shallow dish, add the milk, season generously, and mix well to combine. Cut the ciabatta loaf into four even-sized pieces and then cut each one open so you have eight separate pieces. Place each piece of the bread, cut side down, in the egg mixture. Leave to soak for a minute before turning over. Heat a large frying pan and add half of the oil, then add the soaked bases of ciabatta, cut side down. Cook over a medium to low heat for about one to two minutes until golden brown, then turn over and cook for another two minutes. Meanwhile preheat the grill. Arrange the bacon on a grill rack and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until really crispy. Keep warm. Remove the ciabatta bases from the frying pan and keep warm. Add the remaining oil and then add the tops of the ciabatta. Cook as described above. Mix together the mustard and the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Just before serving, spread the half the mustard mayonnaise over the bases, next add a little ketchup, the rocket, a layer of tomato slices, and season with the black pepper. Top with the bacon. Finish by spreading the remaining mustard mayonnaise on to the top half of the eggy bread. Arrange on warmed plates and serve immediately.

Glazed loin of bacon with pea and potato mash

If you’re short of time you could serve the pea and potato mash with pan fried bacon chops, which take no more than 15 minutes to cook. For a really smooth mash use a potato ricer. A sieve also works well, it just takes a lot more elbow grease!

Ingredients

750g loin of bacon, two teaspoons of good quality mustard, one tablespoon of demerara sugar, good pinch of ground cloves, 675g floury potatoes, cut into chunks, 175g frozen peas, 50g butter, 100ml milk, salt and freshly ground white pepper, baby leeks to serve.

Method

Place the loin of bacon in a pan of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes per 450g. Set the oven to gas mark 4, 180ºC (350ºF ). Drain the loin of bacon and then score the fat in a diamond pattern. Spread over the mustard. Mix together the sugar and cloves in a small bowl and sprinkle all over the mustard in an even layer. Roast for 20 minutes until the top is nicely glazed and the joint is completely cooked through. Leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

As soon as you have popped the bacon into the oven, steam the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes until just tender. Cook the frozen peas in a separate small pan for three to four minutes until just cooked through. Drain the peas and then return to the pan. Season and then add the butter and milk. Blitz with a hand blender until you have a smooth purée. Mash the potatoes until very smooth, then fold in the pea purée until well combined. Season to taste. Carve the loin of bacon into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the pea and potato mash. Serve with a dish of baby leeks.

Penne with spicy tomato sauce and sizzling bacon

This is the kind of pasta dish that is perfect for when there’s nothing much left in the fridge. It is very easy to prepare, and great served with a lightly dressed rocket salad.

Ingredients

350g penne pasta, tablespoon of olive oil, 175g piece rindless streaky bacon or streaky rashers, cut into small thin strips, one small onion, finely chopped, two garlic cloves, finely chopped, one teaspoon of sweet or smoked paprika, one red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, 400ml passata (sieved tomatoes ), pinch of sugar, small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method

Tip the penne into a pan of boiling, salted water, stir once, then cook for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in sauté pan and fry the bacon for a couple of minutes until crispy. Stir the onion into the pan and cook for another minute or two until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic with paprika and chilli and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Stir in the passata and cook for one to two minutes until heated through. Add the sugar and season to taste. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and then return to the pan. Pour in the tomato mixture and add the basil, then fold everything together until well combined. Divide among warmed plates to serve.

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